A tribute to your influences. An inside joke. A way to pad the setlist, because you’re supposed to play for an hour and you don’t have nearly enough original material yet.
When an artist performs someone else’s songs, it can mean a lot of different things. Whether it’s a painstakingly faithful recreation or a bold reinterpretation, there’s no denying the pure joy in hearing a good cover.
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While they usually make sense, sometimes the best ones totally blindside you. Viagra Boys playing a John Prine song sounds like a potential trainwreck on paper, but their reimagining of “In Spite of Ourselves” breathes new life into what felt like an untouchable classic.
And don’t even get us started on Dee Gees, the Foo Fighters side project that consists of unironically great covers of Bee Gees songs like “You Should Be Dancing,” “More Than a Woman” and “Night Fever.” It was almost as if rock music was saying, “Hey, sorry about that whole ‘Disco Demolition’ thing back in the day… We good?”
There’s also no denying the power of covers as an educational tool. Some of you definitely discovered “Ever Fallen In Love” by Buzzcocks via Thursday’s version of the Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland soundtrack, and AFI’s take on The Misfits’ “Halloween” was definitely on some middle school mix CDs before kids knew the joys of Glenn Danzig.
And even if Ben Gibbard doesn’t quite get the lyrics to “This Charming Man” right, we’re sure he introduced a bunch of moody early-aughts teenagers to The Smiths with Death Cab for Cutie’s cover. (And based on how Morrissey performs it live these days, we don’t think he was too bothered.)
Riot Fest 2023 Tickets + Lineup
We made a playlist that celebrates some of our favorite covers performed by The Cure, Thursday, Say Anything and more of the artists playing Riot Fest 2023. Listen to it, and be there in Douglass Park!
Haven’t bought your ticket yet?
No worries, here are some buttons to do just that.