This Music Scene is (Mostly) Untouched by Influencer Culture and Continues to Thrive

If you scrolled through TikTok this year during Coachella, you’d find that some of the usual faces were missing from this year’s attendance list, but not only that – it was revealed by some users that many influencers were getting dressed for the big event, driving to the grounds, taking photos, and then leaving without actually attending. It’s no secret that influencer culture festers around the famous music festival as it brings in the biggest names in music, and by extension, it brings in brands and many opportunities to go viral.

Is the drive for virality overpowering the fun that Coachella used to bring? It’ll probably only bother you if you let it. That being said, there’s another music festival that has had its ups and downs but continues to be one of the largest and most affordable ones in the country. It focuses on a specific genre, and it’s one that continues to thrive without influencers bringing the spotlight with them.

Blue Ridge Rock Festival is a rock and metal music festival that has been taking place in a rural area of Virginia since 2017, and it lays claim to curating the ultimate fan-decided lineup. While the festival has not gone without its problems in the past – mostly due to issues with the campgrounds and the surrounding traffic – one look at the 2023 lineup would get anyone across different generations excited. Iconic players like Flyleaf, Papa Roach, and Evanescence have been announced as well as some of the younger names in the game like Spiritbox and Until I Wake.

It’s interesting to see the attendance of Blue Ridge Rock Festival and then compare it to the amount of content about it on TikTok, which is not a lot. The top videos about the event haven’t crossed virality, and many of the top influencers don’t attend – no matter how viral certain metalcore songs get. This scene is just not one that brings in overly-thought-out fashion choices and paparazzi. Instead, it calls on the “misfits” and those who aren’t afraid to get a little bit of beer spilled on them during a set. Despite low exposure on social media, Blue Ridge Rock Festival has been recognized as America’s largest rock and camping music festival. With over 100 fan-selected bands in attendance, fans across the country prepare for a bustling week of rock and metal at the Virginia International Raceway.

The metal and rock genres have definitely spurned other subgenres like metalcore and nu-metal which have brought in a younger crowd over the years, but the core audience remains. That being said, with that capacity, you’d think we would have heard more about Blue Ridge Rock Festival year-to-year, but the metal and rock audiences remain largely off popular social media platforms. Instead, the scene thrives in independent spaces whether it be through magazines dedicated to the metal scene or localized groups on Facebook.

It’s safe to say that the emergence of influencer culture and the chase for virality have changed a lot of artistic gatherings. Over the years, Gen Z and the like have joined different music spaces, nudging genres to grow and evolve to match the audience that is willing to travel and spend. Coachella is now an influencer gathering, and underground electronic music now has dedicated sites that will explicitly say they won’t be reporting on any “EDM” related content and artists. The rock and metal spaces that continue to thrive (with the exception of Warped Tour – RIP) still hold large turnouts and take place all across America regardless of what the views, likes, and engagement rates might say.

The rock and metal genres keep true to their sound with a few exceptions. With the emergence of the many subgenres, different crowds and generations can blend without the music quality changing. Despite the critics throwing hate at the new and odd genres like Babymetal‘s rightly-named “kawaii-metal,” there are many big names in the fold, ready to defend the expansion of the culture without compromising it.


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