By Joe Bailey, Staff Writer
Rock The 90’s performed on Songbirds’ south stage on Friday, February 8th, bringing an energetic showcase of 90’s rock hits to the greater Chattanooga community.
South Stage General Manager Damien Rogers emphasized that Songbirds is a venue that wants to celebrate the various eras of rock music as well as showcase high quality musicianship above all else. Rock The 90’s, formed in 2015, is a 90’s tribute band that has set out to celebrate what they see as an underrepresented and underappreciated time in the history of rock.
Lead Vocalist and Keyboard Player Hugh Hession shed some light on some of the reasons they decided to create a band which focused on that decade.
He says: “Back when we got together, we felt that the 1990’s weren’t being represented properly. There weren’t a whole lot of bands around at that time that were bringing that music back out. Like any decade, it’s eclectic. There are so many types of music from that decade. You have the Grunge period and you have bands like Matchbox Twenty who were kind of pop rock. In that period they called all that stuff ‘alt-rock,’ but it was really just pop rock.”
Hession went on to explain that at the start of the 90’s, many of the so-called “hairbands” from the 80’s fell out of style and people wanted something a little bit more rebellious. As a result, the over-the-top bands of decades past eventually started to lose their place in popular culture.
Hession and his fellow band members wanted to be as faithful as possible when recreating the sound of each artist whose music they perform. According to Drummer Bronnie Turner, many audience members get excited when reminded of a song that they had forgotten about. Being able to accurately perform each song is important for them when trying to generate that kind of response to their performances.
Hession then continued to explain that the appeal of a 90’s rock tribute band might be wider than one might initially expect, noting that “We get all sorts of people to come see our shows… Our fanbase ranges from 17 or 18 years old, all the way up to 50. And that’s what’s cool about it. The songs are timeless to me.”
When asked if he thinks people listen to 90’s music for a different reason now than they did in the 90’s, Hession said that people who weren’t exposed to the music in its prime are perhaps experiencing it differently than those who listened back then.
Adding to this point, Guitarist and Vocalist Lance Rodriguez said that he thinks 90’s music wasn’t really thought of as 90’s music in the 90’s. He notes that “Back then, you would have never heard Nirvana played right next to Madonna on the radio, for example. But nowadays you will hear all this stuff played together on 90’s retro radio.”
Like those 90’s radio stations today, Rock The 90’s stands as a wholistic celebration of what made music from the decade so memorable to so many people. That night, as Hession and the band brought out hit song after hit song, audience members young and old, sang along to each of them.