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The term ‘Indie’ and ‘alternative’ music first emerged around the late 1970s and was used to describe the post-punk and new wave music that was being released by independent UK labels at the same time as commercial music was stagnating.
Indie music’s aesthetic was hard to define at first as there was a stark contrast in the styles of music coming from the bands under its umbrella. Joy Division’s 1979 album, Unknown Pleasures was moody, intense and rhythmic, whilst Depeche Mode’s Speak & Spell was a high tempo, synth heavy, electro pop album. However, by the mid-1980s the genre’s musical and cultural characteristics were becoming more clearly defined with the rise of Manchester band, The Smiths.
The Smiths exemplified indie with their poetic and socio-political lyrics, combined with jangle pop riffs on the guitar acting as an authentic antidote to the mainstream manufactured pop of the time. Since then, Indie music has come to be recognised as a non commercial sound that centred around arty, socio-political and emotive lyrics sung over the top of a rustic guitar melody.
Nirvana was another success of the alternative indie era, although the band represented a heavier American style of the genre that became known as grunge. Nirvana released their ‘Nevermind” album in 1991, and the album was credited as bringing alternative music into the mainstream.
UK Indie music eventually peaked in the mid-1990s, the genre became known as Britpop and bands such as Blur, Pulp and most notably Oasis, took the world by storm. Oasis sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and paved the way for the global success of bands such as Radioheasd and Coldplay in the 2000s.
Indie music today has adopted elements of other genres, leading to a multiple of sub genres, such as Bon Iver’s folk-indie, The XX’s indie-pop and the Arctic Monkeys’ indie-rock. Indie bands today also feature prominently at music festivals and many bands play to smaller and more intimate venues, as opposed to stadium arenas.
Check out Zenseats’ platform to find the best tickets for all your favourite indie bands performing at festivals, arenas and quirky club venues.
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