The end of a decade: The 11 most major moments of the past 10 years

By Punktastic

Among all the incredible album releases and new bands hitting the scene, there have been a number of moments that have helped define the past decade for fans and creators of alternative music alive (and all of its lovely little sub-genres).

We’ve seen reunions of bands we thought were long gone, experienced anniversary tours of our favourite albums, even lost some of our most beloved band members… You name it, we’ve been through it, and while it’s been a rollercoaster of emotion – life is life, after all, and it’s not always as perfect as we’d like – it’s each of these moments that have set up the industry for the decade to come.

The Punktastic team has chosen the 11 moments we think have changed the industry this past 10 years – for both better and worse. Check them out below!

Don’t forget to check out our Bands Of The Decade, Albums Of The Decade, and Bands of the Next Decade articles.

Contributors: Liam Knowles [LK], Romy Gregory [RG], Dave Stewart [DS], Tom Walsh [TW], Gem Rogers [GR], Yasmin Brown [YB], Fiachra Johnston [FJ]

Refused – Comeback (January 2012)

Refused released ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ in 1998, but split up the same year before it really had time to gather much traction. In the wake of the band’s demise, the album became a cult classic and is rightfully lauded by many as a masterpiece, the album title ringing true as it became one of the most influential hardcore / punk albums of all time. This meant that a lot of frustrated punks would never get the chance to hear these incandescent tracks live, leaving Refused as little more than a legend; an intangible concept on an immovable pedestal. Fast forward to 2012, and after a couple of years of rumours, Refused finally reformed and the live shows around this time carried all the politically charged fury, limitless energy and the glorious feeling of fresh relevance that the album had captured 14 years earlier, a feeling most bands wouldn’t be able to carry forward so long after creating the work. Granted, the albums they’ve released since, 2015’s ‘Freedom’ and 2019’s ‘War Music’, have had mixed reviews, but that initial comeback was an inferno that most people never thought they’d get a chance to witness, and nothing can undo that. [LK]

The Ghost Inside – Post-crash comeback show (July 2019)

In November 2015, hardcore heroes The Ghost Inside were involved in a tragic and fatal bus accident, seriously injuring the entire band and taking the lives of crew members and passengers of the other vehicle involved. Vocalist Jonathan Vigil had to undergo intense physical therapy in order to walk again, bassist Jim Riley lost part of his foot, drummer Andrew Tkaczyk even lost one of his legs. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer band, and it devastated fans and peers everywhere. Donations for the band started to flood in from around the globe, including a song Stray From The Path where every penny was given to the band to aid their recovery. Their record label, Epitaph, even stopped taking their cut from record sales so that the band could get every penny they needed. The love was just growing and growing, everyone yearning for some better news. So, in 2017 when they started hinting that they were still striving to get back on stage, that support jgrew even more. Each member of the band was physically improving, their mental battles being won every day, and everyone stuck right by them through their arduous journey to recovery. And then it happened – they announced their first show in 4 years, taking place in their hometown in July 2019. No support acts announced, no set list hints, nothing – just a date, a place and a time to arrive. Those lucky enough to attend were part of an outdoor show, a sort of TGI headlined mini festival, and when the band took the stage it was an emotional and powerful moment. There wasn’t a single person without goosebumps, regardless of whether you were there physically or watching a live stream. They performed like the injuries had never happened, and though it will have taken an incredible physical toll on them they sure as hell made it clear that they wanted to keep the flame alive. It was one of the most emotional and intense moments of the decade. The bus incident had the potential to destroy their careers, but their passion for music kept it alive. Undeniably inspirational. [DS]

Architects – Tom Searle’s death & the unifying of the metal community (August 2016)

The metal world is often heralded for the love and support within the community, and a blindingly bright light was shone on that community after the death of Architects guitarist Tom Searle became public knowledge. In August 2016 when drummer Dan Searle announced the tragic death of his brother, bandmate and founding member, it shook the entire genre. What was seemingly an out of the blue announcement for the world had actually been years in the making, with Dan explaining that his brother had been suffering from cancer for the last few years, choosing to keep it private and make the best of the time he had left. It also became apparent that ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ was largely centred around Tom’s illness, turning the already stunning album into an emotional and poignant swan song. The outpouring of love and support that flooded Architects was truly beautiful, coming from both bands and fans alike. So many stories started to come to the surface, all of them highlighting how Tom was, and how unique a sense of humour he had. Not only that, but the way Architects handled it all was beyond admirable, seeing out the rest of their scheduled tour dates and dedicating everything they did to his memory – something they’re still doing to this day. Tom is still sorely missed by his former band members and by the metal community but his legend still lives on, his untimely passing demonstrating just how beautiful heavy music and those involved with it can be. [DS]

Arcade Fire – Winning Album of the Year (February 2011)

Ah, 2011: Where Rebecca Black was soon to rise to infamy and we still trusted Facebook. The grunge of the 90s and the heavy rock and nu-metal of early 00s were very much echoes of their former selves, the holy quartet of The Strokes, Vines, Hives, and White Stripes had left their eternal marks on the industry, and emo and pop punk had hit their peak and were entering the silver age. Yet a new beast loomed on the horizon. As Billboard pointed out in their own end-of-decade retrospective, the rise of modern indie in the 2010s had a marked effect on the rest of the genre, on how rock music was produced by artists and how it was viewed by fans. While there are many events to draw examples of this from, Arcade Fire becoming the first indie rock band to win Album of the Year at the 2010 Grammys was perhaps the tinder that started the fire burning. With a swell of support from magazines like Pitchfork (at the time having an astute focus on indie), Arcade Fire’s third album, ‘The Suburbs’, became a sleeper hit near the end of 2010, leading to the Canadian group picking up the the award in February of 2011 and their most acclaimed album yet, jumping forty places on the Billboard 200 to number 12. Suddenly, bands like The National, Alt-J, Two Door Cinema Club weren’t just the outsider new kids or eternal B-players in the business, they were the norm, reaching the top of the charts and headlining festivals globally. Indie bled into other genres, into alternative, into pop-punk… In a hilariously cyclical twist it bled into genres that the original understanding of indie rock ended up inspiring. It was in our homes, corrupting our children, making them all vaguely melancholic and longing to stare off into the distance from the balcony of an apartment, cigarette twirling in their mouth, all in black and white. Whether it was to your taste or not, the coming of indie was huge turning point in the rock industry, and this moment was the linchpin of it all. [FJ]

Gallows – Frank Carter’s departure (July 2011)

Gallows broke the mould in UK hardcore. The chaotic live shows coupled with a bold, innovative approach to songwriting made them one of the most exciting punk bands in the country, even drawing comparisons to the Sex Pistols. Led by the enigmatic front man Frank Carter, the Watford five-piece produced the visceral ‘Orchestra of Wolves’, a tour de force of bile boiling hardcore, before creating the masterpiece concept sophomore album ‘Grey Britain’. However, with heightened exposure and an exhausting touring schedule, Gallows were always flying close to the sun. After being dropped from Warner Brothers, post-‘Grey Britain’, there was radio silence and the sporadic live shows didn’t feature even the hint of new material. Then in the summer 2011, Carter announced he would be leaving Gallows. Subsequent interviews described a band pulling in different directions with guitarist Steph Carter telling Alternative Press that his brother wanted to be a “big, successful, straight-up rock band, like Queens of the Stone Age”. Frank would go on to form the ill-fated Pure Love before returning to heavier roots and gaining heightened success with Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. Gallows would remain and enlist Alexisonfire’s Wade MacNeil on vocals, recording a further two albums, and while the change was passable, it would never quite reach the excitement and quintessential British sound of the band’s early work. Just as explosive as they entered the punk world, it was only fitting that this is the way it would end. [TW]

Green Day – Reading + Leeds anniversary performances of ‘Dookie’ (August 2013)

As the annual Reading and Leeds Festivals prepared to host their 2013 edition, it was a tumultuous time for Green Day. Almost a year had passed since Billie Joe Armstrong’s infamous intoxicated rant at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas and reception of what would be an ill-advised trio of albums had been considerably lukewarm. After such an illustrious career, this start was now on the brink of collapsing. However, 2013 presented the 20th anniversary of ‘Dookie’, a masterpiece of snotty punk alienation that turned three working class kids from the Bay Area into global stars. It was a record that was a catalyst in the immersion of a thousand punk bands. In the almost monsoon conditions in Leeds, a newly-sober Armstrong led the celebration of this iconic album. Played in its entirety, the performance seemed to completely reinvigorate the fading aura of Green Day, the timeless classics of ‘Welcome to Paradise’ and ‘When I Come Around’ cutting through the pouring rain and the rare airings of gems such as ‘Sassafras Roots’ and ‘Coming Clean’ taking us back to those endless 90s summers. The run of shows over 2013 and 2014 took Green Day back to basics and gave them time to consider the real ethos of the band. The overthinking had gone by the time ‘Revolution Radio’ was released in 2016, a throwback to the Insomniac-era anger that had lacked in anything post-American Idiot. These ‘Dookie’ shows reminded everyone just how special this band is to so many people and while in Leeds, at least, we were all head to toe in liquid mud, those 45 minutes felt like being bathed in warm sunshine. [TW]

My Chemical Romance – Return (October 2019)

It seems strange to think that we’re both starting and ending this decade with My Chemical Romance alive and kicking. For a while, it felt like we’d never witness our favourite emo band on stage ever again; a bittersweet resignation that comes with understanding that while it hurts, it is for the best for everyone. MCR fans spent the past 6 years since the initial break up feeling grateful for the time we had with the band, and despite rumours flying around, we never really believed we might get them back. But just a few months before the decade draws to a close, following the slow yet clear dropping of hints across social media, MCR came back to us. The announcement saw polarised responses – this is, after all, a band that saw accusations of becoming sell-outs thrown at them from all directions following the release of ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ – but ultimately, the people that matter most – the fans – couldn’t be more ecstatic to see the reunion fo their favourite band. This is a band that you can genuinely say saved lives, even during their six-year hiatus, and their reformation not only comes with the potential for new, exciting music, live shows, and interactions, but also the potential to reach new kids and revive the MCRmy of 2005. It’s a late entry, but this reunion is undoubtedly one of the most important moments of this decade. [YB]

Linkin Park – Chester Bennington’s death (July 2017)

Linkin Park was the gateway into music for a lot of the PT team, myself included. They compounded a love for heavy music, hip hop and art, and while we may have drifted away from them after the third album, ‘Hybrid Theory’ and ‘Meteora’ can easily be said to be the reason behind our love of this art. When we were angsty, uncertain teenagers, they provided the words that made the most sense to us. They guided us when we felt unsure or felt unappreciated, so when Chester Bennington died in 2017, it didn’t just break the hearts of Team Punktastic, it broke the heart of music lovers worldwide. Chester was a kind, compassionate singer who struggled with depression for most of his life. He didn’t shy away from that, accepting it and speaking openly, becoming a pseudo-advocate for openness and mental health awareness. In a time where it was unusual for men to talk about how they really felt, Chester did so with frank honesty. It’s becoming less unusual for bands and musicans to talk about their struggles but Chester was ahead of his time. I personally believe that, without Chester being open about depression, we wouldn’t have a generation who talk honestly about it now. So Chester, thank you for opening the door. Thank you for the music. Thank you for letting us know it’s okay to not be okay. [AJ]

Taking Back Sunday – Reformation of the original lineup (March 2010)

Over the past year, Taking Back Sunday have been celebrating 20 years as a band, although the lineup hasn’t always been as it stands right now as we move into the next decade. From 2003 to 2010, founding member and co-writer of the band’s debut album ‘Tell All Your Friends’, John Nolan, left the band to pursue other projects, but returned in 2010 to start a whole new journey as their guitarist. While the albums that were released in the 7 years Nolan was working elsewhere are arguably some of TBS’ best to date, it wasn’t until his return that it really felt like Taking Back Sunday again. TAYF is a persistent fan favourite, and Nolan’s return led to an authentic reunion tour followed by a 10 year anniversary tour and, this year, a 20 year anniversary tour that saw the album played live in full every single night. It’s only really in hindsight that we can see the impact that this reformation had on the success of the band and the intensity of the fanbase, and admit that Taking Back Sunday was just never really the same without John Nolan. It was one decision, but it changed the entire future of this band. And I ask this question sincerely: Can you imagine a TBS show without Adam Lazzara’s southern drawl introducing “John Nolan on the gee-tar”?! [YB]

Frightened Rabbit – Scott Hutchison’s death (May 2018)

What is there to write about Scott Hutchison that hasn’t already been said? Scott was a phenomenally talented musician and artist who wrote raw, soul-baring music in both Frightened Rabbit and his solo project Owl John, and the outpouring of love after his passing in May 2018 showed how he touched countless lives from afar. For so many, the lyrics Scott wrote vocalised their struggles with depression and anxiety, making them feel heard and less alone. There are endless stories of acts of kindness Scott regularly undertook, such as a heartfelt note of support sent to a fan going through a difficult time, that show his remarkably generous nature. Scott’s death still remains devastating in that he was unable to overcome the issues his music helped many others weather, but his legacy is defined by the wonderful light he brought into many of our worlds through his music and his art.

I was in Glasgow around a month after Scott’s death and gathered up the strength to listen to ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’, an album I hold dearly close to my heart, for the first time since the news. I walked the early morning streets of the city and thought of him, and when the line “as manic gulls scream “It’s okay”” kicked in, a flock of seagulls suddenly circled overhead. I won’t pretend it was much more than a small, yet startling, coincidence, but it was a sign that, as Scott once said, “when it’s all gone, something carries on”. Scott’s spirit will forever live on in his music, his art, and in the charity set up in his memory by his family, Tiny Changes. [RG]

Bonus moment: A personal and awkward encounter between our very own assistant editor, Andy Joice, and NOFX (May 2014)

This is more of a personal moment (hey, no one said they had to be genre affecting). And no one said they had to be positive either. This moment goes back to May 2014 in a small hotel in Belgium I was camped out in for Groez Rock. As we check in, an American sidles up to us, looks at a flan left on the reception counter and says, “Mmmm, Cake”. Before I can think of a snarky response, I look up to realise it’s El Hefe of NOFX. Now, we assumed that if Hefe was in the hotel, the rest of the band were likely to be skulking around too and he wasn’t just there for a free slice of flan – and sure enough, come the morning, he was eating what looked like corn flakes and croissants for breakfast. Later that day, after a few beers in the village, we walk back into the hotel, only to realise the entire band were behind us. After holding the door open for the band, Fat Mike turns to me and asks where the toilet is. I’ve got no idea, so I looked him squarely in the eyes, pointed at a door and proceeded to bolt up the stairs as fast as my legs would carry me. It was at that point, I heard him say, “that’s the fucking closet”. I almost died – partly from running up stairs, partly from misdirecting one of my musical idols to a cupboard. To this day, I still don’t know if he found the toilet. [AJ]