At a glance it’s clear to see the lack of variety shown by the organisers of the two biggest post-millennial UK metal festivals, Download and Sonisphere. What I deemed the ‘Festival Big 4’ (Metallica, Iron Maiden, Linkin Park and Slipknot) in last week’s blog, were almost ever-presents as headliners in the lineups, as organisers had worked themselves into a corner, unable to introduce newer acts in fear of losing attendees and profits, especially in recent years where the two festivals were in direct competition.
However today I want to answer the question more directly: who are the next generation of headline acts? How many bands are there that have the ability to step up into the headline roles when the old greats such as Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Kiss etc. retire, that haven’t yet been given the chance? I discuss three potential options below.
Alter Bridge are yet to produce a classic album; the closest thing so far has been their second effort, Blackbird, which flung them from a peripheral Creed 2 into one of the leading hard rock bands of today. The follow ups, AB3 and Fortress, have been successful too, although they did relatively little to further Alter Bridge’s path to global fame. However all is not lost, as Miles Kennedy has surely grabbed the rock world’s attention with his high-profile collaborations with Slash, providing an ideal springboard to promote his day job. Guitarist Mark Tremonti is also doing his bit with his solo material, which makes me believe Alter Bridge are just one killer album away from a future of headline slots. Just lose the cliche Cry A River songs and add a sprinkle of mainstream rock appeal and they’re there.
Deftones have been a constant throughout the metal world over the last two decades; a hit with the fans and adored by the press, the dreamlike qualities of Deftones’ music has assured them main stage appearances everywhere they go. They are one of the few bands that seem to appeal to every metal head, as their music encapsulates all parts of the metal spectrum. They have straight forward heavy riffage, but can also be delicate and intricate, weaving elements of shoegaze and ambient into an often catchy format that defies classification. They may have little to no following outside of the metal community, but their popularity within it and their latest rebirth that produced Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan, surely means they deserve a go at headlining Download. After all, nobody can argue against the success of the band’s third album, White Pony.
It’s hard to extrapolate a band’s career after just one album, but the success of Royal Blood’s self-titled debut was extraordinary and almost unheard of in today’s harsh music environment. The only problem the duo from Brighton face is how to keep evolving as a band; one record of just bass and drums is alright, but is it enough to form a distinguished career from? I’m not so sure. For Royal Blood to become the global megastars that they are tipped to be, they will have to embrace variety into their music. They can’t adopt guitars or they’ll lose their USP and keys wouldn’t really fit in, which leaves electronics – the instrument of today. My prediction is that Royal Blood will naturally incorporate the electronic elements, as a lot of bands are, which, as long as they keep writing tracks like Little Monster and Figure It Out, will be enough to elevate them to headline material. No pressure then boys.
If festival organisers prep these ‘second tier’ bands with support and second stage headline slots, then I think we will be safe when, in ten years’ time, the rock and metal giants retire. And who knows, maybe the next Metallica are just around the corner? Regardless of what happens in the future, I’m remaining optimistic for now.
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