The Un'Gathering of the Tribes: performing, writing, and remaking masculine identity at 1990s alternative rock festivals
Metadata[+] Show full item record
In the early 1990s, a number of up-and-coming American rock bands working in the so-called "alternative rock" genre coupled boyish sensitivity with aggressive sounds that fused punk rock, hard rock, and underground styles to create a genre that provided a thoughtful twist on the angry young man archetype. During this same period, a new wave of traveling all-day, multi-band rock festivals offered bands and audiences a venue for performing their new thoughtful alternative identities. Although Lollapalooza--the first major American alternative festival of the '90s--”was initially successful in bringing together diverse groups from America's alternative-aligned countercultures, musicians, fans, and journalists ultimately abandoned the festival when it traded passionate, high volume sensitivity for aggressive hyper-masculinity. As Lollapalooza's popularity waned, new niche festivals such as the neo-hippie H.O.R.D.E. Tour, the all-female Lilith Fair, and the heavy metal Ozzfest emerged, splitting the alternative rock audience and fostering environments where fans and bands could construct subgenre-specific identities. By challenging, rejecting, and remaking Lollapalooza-style alternative identity--using both the power of the press and the development and championing of new musical styles--bands, fans, and journalists helped create an array of (sometimes incompatible) alternative styles with their own notions of genre-appropriate masculinity. When these various alternative "tribes" reunited at the Woodstock '99 festival in Rome, NY, at the end of the decade, the event devolved into rape, riot, and arson. My investigation found that as journalists attempted to make sense of these tragic events, many blamed out of control masculinity and hyper-masculine nu-metal bands for fostering a dangerous culture at the festival. Although rock journalists have largely treated the events of Woodstock '99 and the nu-metal bands associated with them as the result of an unfortunate, fleeting fad for hyper-masculinity in alternative rock, bands, fans, and critics continue to use gender to negotiate differences in both rock style and substance, suggesting that alternative rock's gender issues are far from settled.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- 'Do you have to time to listen to me whine': playing with masculinity at Lollapalooza -- Building a mystery: how gender issues and identity politics fractured the 1990s alternative rock fanbase -- 'Just give me something to break': violence, masculinity, and youth culture in the media reception of Woodstock '99 -- Epilogue: identity, gender, and alt/indie culture in the twenty-first century