What are Tribute Bands and Why Are They So Popular?

Tribute bands are a fan favorite at dive bars all across the world– but why? Let’s analyze it!

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Tribute bands are an important part of modern culture. Sometimes, you just want to hear songs you have known your whole life, but the band is not together anymore, or you cannot get to one of their concerts, whatever the reason may be. This is where tribute bands come in and the reason that they draw in so many dedicated fans. So, what is a tribute band and what makes them so popular among older and younger generations alike?

What is a tribute band?

A tribute band is a musical group that is dedicated to playing the songs of one particular artist or musical group, dead or alive. These are usually bands that are playing the music of a well-known artist, so when they are playing gigs, almost everyone knows the music. Tribute bands play a large role in keeping the music alive of musicians who can no longer play it themselves. Many people rely on them to keep playing this music so that they can keep hearing it live. Not only do tribute bands play the band’s music, but they replicate them as performers, as well. 

What is the difference between a tribute band and a cover band?

A cover band plays the music of a variety of different musicians and artists, whereas a tribute band is dedicated to performing the music of one particular artist or band, and evoking the emotion and performing qualities of those artists. Although both are great in their respective ways, tribute bands are often taken more seriously because there is an entire industry based around them, and many of them have entire fanbases. 

A small band plays on a stage with string lights hanging above them in front of a small audience

Many people love cover bands because they are able to hear their favorite bands live without the expensive ticket prices. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Why do tribute bands draw people in?

There are a variety of reasons that tribute bands gain large followings and have a lot of fans. When they play their music, it is well-known, so for a lot of people it brings them a sense of comfort to hear music that they know and love. Tribute bands are most often seen for bands from the 60s, 70s, and 80s– many of which no longer perform, so fans cannot see the real bands in person. Tribute bands have the ability to fill that void for some music lovers. These bands are aimed at a variety of genres, and are people from all over the globe who have an appreciation for the artist. When they are a fan as well, they know how to channel the energy that a fellow fan is searching for. 

For some listeners, it is less about the songs being played or the band being replicated, but more about the need for live music. Although many bands still tour nowadays, ticket prices can be extremely expensive depending on the musician that you want to see. Some people just really love live music, and with cover and tribute bands, you are able to see that in local establishments rather than at large music venues. Also, you can often watch a tribute band perform while you are eating dinner or having drinks at a bar, which is something you likely cannot do with major artists while they are performing. 

Tribute bands give the younger generations a chance to see artists live that might have died before they were even born. This creates a deeper appreciation for classic music in the younger generations, and an appreciation for live music at a young age as well. This is how young people can experience nostalgia from music that they have never heard before, because tribute bands have the ability to evoke the same emotions that the band they are imitating gave people when they performed. 

Multiple person band plays on a stage in front of a crowd

Tribute bands can spark nostalgia in the brain, even if you were not alive when the music was released. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

The connection between tribute bands and music therapy

The major connection between tribute bands and music therapy is that there is an aspect of psychology behind the reason that these bands bring people so much comfort and nostalgia. Music that you have known for a long time is stored in the deepest parts of your brain, so nothing can ever take that away from you– even Alzheimers or some sort of damage to the brain. 

Cover bands can trick the brain into thinking that they are hearing an old song for the first time when it is played by a cover band, which can evoke the same emotions that you felt when you heard your favorite song that first time, so long ago. It creates a combination of the new and the old, which brains love. 

In addition to this, the brain can find nostalgia in music that is from decades before the person was born, which is why cover bands tickle the brain in this way. It is a great way to find new amongst the old. With this, the brain can create fond memories using music that they were not even alive for the making of. 

Four person band plays on a stage with a female lead singer

Sometimes, tribute bands evoke the feeling of seeing your favorite artist in concert. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Tribute bands on a deeper level

Sometimes, tribute bands can evoke the feeling in people that they are seeing their favorite artist in person for the first time. This can create a crazy fandom filled with people who deep down, although they understand that they are seeing a tribute band, feel as though their favorite artists are standing right in front of them.

You can see this often with Elvis impersonators and Beatles tribute bands. Fandoms that were so large when the artists were together or still performing their music carry over into tribute band lovers, and become obsessed with the way it feels to see them perform live. Occasionally this can become dangerous and unhealthy, which is where psychologically, tribute bands can be an issue. 

Multiple people on stage playing guitars

Tribute bands can evoke positive memories in music therapy patients. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Not only do tribute bands play a large role in keeping the music they are playing alive, and exposing younger audiences with music they may have never heard before, but it also has the ability to help people through music therapy in ways that many people don’t realize. Continuing to play this music creates great memories with it, and those memories last a lifetime. This can be helpful in old age and future cognitive issues, because if a familiar song comes up, it can aid someone in recalling those memories in ways that any other form of therapy could not. 

If you are not a fan of tribute bands, that is understandable. Many people feel as though there is nothing better than the real thing. But, if you are craving a bit of live music and you are willing to give some of these incredible musicians a chance, go seek out one of your local tribute bands. They will not disappoint, and may even instill a new love in tributes in you.

Savannah Dawson
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