Arena rock

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Queen during a live concert in Norway in 1982
A Queen concert in Drammen, Norway in 1982, showing the scale and lighting of an arena rock concert

Arena rock (sometimes stadium rock,[1] anthem rock,[2] or corporate rock[3]) is rock music that utilises large arena venues, particularly sports venues, for concerts or series of concerts linked in tours. Historically, arena rock bands have often come from the hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock genres, utilising a more commercially oriented and radio-friendly sound, with highly-produced music that includes both hard rock numbers and power ballads, both often employing anthemic choruses.[4]


The origins of arena rock were in the 1960s, sometimes dated to when The Beatles played Shea Stadium in New York in 1965. Also important was the success of the large pop and rock festivals like Monterey (1967) and Woodstock (1969)[5] and the use of large stadiums for American tours by bands including The Rolling Stones, Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin. The tendency developed in the mid-1970s as the increased power of amplification and sound systems allowed the use of larger and larger venues.[1] Smoke, fireworks and sophisticated lighting shows became staples of arena rock performances.[6] It has been argued that the rise of arena rock marked the end of the idealism of 1960s, particularly in the disillusionment that followed the Altamont Free Concert of 1969, for a more commercial form of rock.[1] Key acts included Journey, REO Speedwagon, Boston, Foreigner, Styx,[4] Kiss, Peter Frampton[7] and Queen.[8][9]

The use of commercial sponsorship for the large-scale tours and concerts of this era began to lead to the music being branded, usually pejoratively, as corporate rock.[10] The commercialism, and "overblown" spectacle of stadium rock has been seen as promoting a number of reactions, including the pub rock[11] and punk rock movements in the 1970s.[12] In the 1980s arena rock became dominated by glam metal bands, following the lead of Aerosmith[13] and including Mötley Crüe, Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P. and Ratt. Their popularity was challenged by the alternative rock bands who began to breakthrough to the mainstream, particularly after the success of Nirvana, from the early 1990s.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c S. Waksman, This Ain't the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk (University of California Press, 2009), ISBN 0-520-25310-8, pp. 21-31.
  2. ^ G. Donaldson, The Making of Modern America: the Nation from 1945 to the Present (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), ISBN 0-7425-4820-1, p. 248.
  3. ^ L. M. Scrivani-Tidd, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: From Arenas to the Underground, 1974-1980 (Greenwood Press, 2006), ISBN 0-313-32937-0, p. 74.
  4. ^ a b “Arena rock”, Allmusic, retrieved 20 January 2011.
  5. ^ E. Weisbard, This is Pop: in Search of the Elusive at Experience Music Project (Harvard University Press, 2004), ISBN 0-674-01321-2, p. 62.
  6. ^ R. Shuker, Popular Music: the Key Concepts (London: Routledge, 2nd., edn., 2002), 0415284252, p. 158.
  7. ^ J. Shepherd, ed., Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 1 (Continuum, 2003), ISBN 0-8264-6321-5, p. 423.
  8. ^ P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (London: Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), ISBN 1-84353-105-4, p. 835.
  9. ^ Thrills, Adrian (11 March 2011) We STILL rock you: Re-releases chart Queen's rise to power Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 June 2011
  10. ^ W. M. Reynolds and J. A. Webber, Expanding Curriculum Theory: Dis/positions and Lines of Flight (London: Routledge, 2004), ISBN 0-8058-4664-6, p. 24.
  11. ^ A. Bennett, “Even better than the real thing? Understanding the tribute band phenomenon”, S. Homan, ed., Access All Eras: Tribute Bands and Global Pop Culture, (Hill International, 2006), ISBN 0-335-21690-0, p. 26.
  12. ^ P. Browne and R. B. Browne, The Guide to United States popular culture, (Popular Press, 2001), ISBN 0-87972-821-3, p. 31.
  13. ^ D. L. Joyner, American Popular Music (McGraw-Hill, 3rd edn., 2008), ISBN 0-07-352657-6, p. 261.
  14. ^ "Hair metal", Allmusic. Retrieved 6 July 2010.