The ace of spades is turning green.
Since its formative years, rock ‘n’ roll has been renowned for disregarding anything other than instant gratification. The essence of a great band was to promote a consistently laissez faire attitude. However, as global ecological consciousness takes hold and awareness of our lackadaisical stance toward Mother Earth evolves, a new revolution is pervading.
Rock is going green. Over the past half-century, rock has left a mark on the world yet the impact hasn’t been solely societal. There’s an environmental component to artists such as The Rolling Stones, U2 and Willie Nelson traipsing the globe, promoting their new album and entertaining the masses nightly month after month, year after year.
That abrasion runs far deeper than the cliched tales of promiscuity and narcotics abused by people with loud guitars and louder voices. From carbon-spewing flights and tour busses, massive power drain for lights, decibel-crunching amplification and the generation of trash, even the smallest bands leave an indelible stamp on the planet. Musical preferences aside, that’s not good.
Nonetheless, many artists are making great strides to revert their global toxic shock, striving to become carbon neutral. Those stars who once gained notoriety for trashing hotels and ignoring ethics are now revered for their radical approach to rockin’ out while saving the planet — or at least minimizing the impact.
Despite many precedents, no established working formula has been set. Many artists are left struggling to find a way to contribute yet all are revered for their efforts big or small. Witness Willie Nelson’s biodiesel-powered buses and Jack Johnson’s “EnviroRider” which includes things like backstage recycling containers, locally sourced catering and a voluntary $1.50 ticket fee to “offset carbon emissions associated with travelling from the show.” Neil Young’s baby-step: His forthcoming album Fork In The Road is about his electrically converted 1959 Lincoln Continental.
On his website, eco-king David Suzuki heralds The Rolling Stones and Coldplay for offsetting emissions associated with their concerts and albums by reducing and/or planting trees to suck up the noxious gasses and turn them into clean, healthy oxygen. The Dave Matthews Band has traced their carbonic steps back to 1991 and turned to organization Native Energy (nativeenergy.com) who document a person/business/act’s footprint and counter it by constructing new Native American and Native Alaskan renewable energy generators that create clean electricity, displacing coal-fired plants.
Keep in mind that as with all things innovative, the first steps made towards correcting environmental oversights aren’t picture-perfect. Most of Colplay’s carbon-mashing mango trees died in their first year and as Rolling Stone Magazine reported in June of 2008 and Radiohead were chagrined to learn of a six-hour traffic jam en route to one performance. That’s six hours of fume-spewing vehicles going nowhere.
Still, those are circumstances beyond a band’s control and the green rock revolution is quite young so while a fully green tour is many moons away, as the movement garners attention and support the kinks are slowly worked out.
It’s a start: Acts aspiring to generate action from knowledge; hoping that such environmental responsibility will become as infectiously appealing as the desire to become a world-travelling guitar hero.