Buc Tuong boyband 

Amid the bustling Vietnamese music market with the strong rise of pop-ballad, rap and R&B, rock music has been quiet for nearly 10 years. The number of people playing and listening to rock has been decreasing for many reasons. Is rock dead?

The quiet is attributed to players themselves. Rockers play music just for passion to satisfy themselves, and they are not good at communication. They don’t pay attention to building images and spreading their performance on social media. On TikTok and Facebook, for example, the number of searches with ‘rock’ is small compared with the number of singers/songs of multiple types of music.

There is no longer much room for rock on the stage. In HCM City, the domain of rock, famous venues for rock music have closed. The space for rock can only be found somewhere in a nightclub, pub, or bar in small street corners.

Organizers and sponsors have become more reluctant to spend money to organize rock concerts because they can see low capital recovery.

However, many people and music players still are passionate for rock and continue to play, though they are just ‘flickering lights’.

After Buc Tuong and Microwave, which were the ‘monuments’ for rock fans, the appearance of new bands, such as Ngot, Ca Hoi Hoang and Chillies has helped create a new public view of rock.

Ngot plays with interesting changes. The band brings a fresh rock spirit, with natural song melodies, which don’t follow any patterns. The music of Ca Hoi Hoang, the boys from the sunny and windy south, carries the youth’s taste. Chillies’ music is a mixture of several different music genres such as Pop, Alternative Rock, and Hiphop/RnB, containing stories and profound messages about life.

These bands have different colors and ways of approaching the audience, but they all have the same target - bring rock closer to the audience through rejuvenation and massification. Creativity and ‘rock softening’ are necessary to suit the taste of today’s audiences.

All rock bands raise controversy when accessing the market. However, trials are always necessary before success can be gained.

Tran Tuan Hung, the leader of Buc Tuong, said people should not interpret the word ‘marketization’ with negative meaning. Artists in all fields need to market their products to optimize their values.

“The ‘content of rock’ is just a concept and there is no formula to measure the content. Of course, the ears of rockers will never be satisfied with anything senseless,” Hung said.

“I believe that if life still needs something that is beautiful, kind and strong, rock will still be here,” he said.

Rock's energetic stance

Artists affirmed that the ‘rock stream’ is strong and never stops. Rock keeps resounding thanks to rockers of different generations and loyal and choosy audiences, in rock playing venues, small and big, and on social networks’ forums, where high interest is shown.

In addition to veteran bands which continue to compose musical pieces and perform, there are young bands with talented members who bring a fresh energy to Vietnam’s rock.

In 2020, a new playing field was set up for Vietnamese rockers – Rock Viet TV show. It had 1.5-2 million viewers for every broadcasting session. Thanks to the playing field, many new rock bands, such as Tho Trauma, Meow Lac and Metanoia, have been introduced to audiences.

Rockers and rock lovers are expecting an important event –VNLE Concert Just Rock – to be held on March 8. This will be a large stage specifically reserved for rockers in HCMC.

Which way for Vietnam’s rock?

Do Hoang Hiep, the leader of Ngu Cung band, said rock is declining, but he believes it has cyclical movements. And he is awaiting the day for rock, stronger and more modern, to come back.

To make an impressive comeback, Vietnam’s rock bands need to create high-quality, new products, and they need support from mass media to become more popular.

Tinh Le