When asked to name the greatest years in rock ‘n’ roll history, certain seasons of life do come to mind: 1967 was the Summer of Love, 1969 birthed Woodstock Nation, 1971 and 1973 were landmark years for iconic albums such as “Led Zeppelin IV” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” 1984 was the pinnacle of synth pop and Michael Jackson — and then there were the 1990s.
May 26 | 2 p.m.
Village at Squaw | Olympic Valley
Most music critics agree that 1991 was the year everything changed. The underground, anti-capitalist ethic of the Pacific Northwest delivered to the mainstream Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” Pearl Jam’s “Ten” and Soundgarden’s “Badmotorfinger,” thereby redefining rock ‘n’ roll for a generation called X.
Long, unwashed hair, ripped jeans and flannel shirts were suddenly considered a cool proto-hipster, druggie lumberjack fashion and a dark, emotional, uninhibited style of music hit the airwaves en masse. As young folks came of age in high school and college, this wild, irreverent, raging noise became a powerful background to their ever-changing lives — the superficial 80s were officially over.
“I think that sound came through the experience of those times,” says Burning Nylon lead guitarist Nicole Gaich. “I remember being in middle school, feeling so awkward. When I first heard grunge music, it was something I could relate to more than the [Beverly Hills] 90210 poppy genre. That music gave us kids that didn’t fit the bill something to grab onto.
“I wasn’t a pissed off teenager,” says Gaich, “I think I wanted to get out, but I couldn’t because I was so shy in a weird way. It livens me up when I listen to this music. It reminds me of who I wanted to be when I was 15. When I think of it right now, being 40 years old, it gives me an energy and power and confidence I’ve grown into. I owe that 10 years of music so much for who I am today. It’s like a warm, fuzzy, cozy blanket.”
This was a time when young music lovers would linger beside hand-me-down home stereos long after bedtime listening to the local alternative-rock radio station for the right moment to press record on the cassette player and dub their favorite songs for free.
“It created a bond with the music,” says lead singer and rhythm guitarist Veronica Lichter. “You had to work for it.”
Once they’d listened to those mix tapes until the spool wore out, ragtag bands of teenagers gathered in basements and garages to chase their own misfit rock dreams. The simple, straightforward riffs and unadulterated lyrics of the dissident rock and punk groups were manageable for four kids with a crappy drum set, bargain market guitars and somebody’s uncle’s beat-up bass.
The adolescent angst and defiant sense of injustice bleaching this musical period is once again resonating for a new generation of musicians and countercultural artists born in the third millennium. Contemporary underground music has become more visceral, authentic and unrestrained, capturing a lost spirit forged in early 90s alt-rock.
“There was a little bit of an edge to it,” says Lichter. “With all that’s going on in the world today, it’s a release to play it. Maybe we’re playing nice too much now. There was a rawness back then, no social media, less pressure to mind your p’s and q’s and all of that stuff. We’d look at the TV in front of us and there was always some big change that was going to blow people’s mind. I think people are hesitant now to take chances. We feel like we could be around forever.”
The four female powerhouses of Burning Nylon will put nice to rest when they take the stage for an in-your-face, high-energy, alternative-rock show featuring the greatest songs by bands ranging through Bush, Blink-182, The Cranberries, The Donnas, Hole, Joan Jett, L7, No Doubt, The Offspring, The Smashing Pumpkins, Social Distortion, Veruca Salt and Weezer, to name a few.
“The cherry on top is being an all-female band,” says Gaich. “Girl power is pretty strong these days. The support and love we feel in Tahoe has been nothing short of amazing. How many people did you see out there singing every word of the song with you? We come for that energy, what those songs mean to us and what those memories bring.” | squawalpine.com