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Friend of the show Nadir Shahzad’s latest is a metaphor-laden, visually-rich presentation about caring for loved ones with mental illness. It stitches together elusive memories of past and future centered around a decimating event – in both an individual and collective sense.
Rock, more than other genres, lends itself to be used with a grand concept. Today, this has perhaps less to do with the musical mechanics of the genre rather than the history of how it developed and the kind of people it attracted. Concept rock albums seem to have influenced a significant fraction of the indie generation that emerged in the 2010s.
The 2000s generation of rock, which came before them, dabbled in conceptual art but mostly made their way by being first-movers with bravado in a newly liberalized media regime. In contrast, the 2010s generation made things that were harder to explain given the expanse of their concept work and instead met with frequent social media restrictions and local media landscape monopolized by Coke Studio. As a result of which, art that needed more explanation to bring people in got none of it. And so the size of the audience of this brand of rock does not reflect its underlying quality.
While restrictions on social media have been lifted, concept rock today requires a media infrastructure around it socializing the hooks to new audiences. These hooks exist musically, visually and in the artists’ personas themselves. Unfortunately, this burden largely falls on the musicians themselves.