setting in opposition

Rock in Opposition

Rock in Opposition or RIO was a movement representing a collective of progressive bands in the late 1970s united in their opposition to the music industry that refused to recognise their music. It was initiated by English avant-garde rock group Henry Cow in March 1978 when they invited four mainland European groups to come to London and perform in a festival called "Rock in Opposition".


Practically ignored in their own country, Henry Cow spent most of their last five years touring mainland Europe. There they encountered many innovative groups who were virtually unknown outside their own countries. What Henry Cow had in common with these groups was that record companies were not interested in their music. (Henry Cow's contract with Virgin Records was cancelled when Virgin found that they were not making money for them.)

Henry Cow decided to expose a few of these European groups to British audiences and organised, with the help by a £1000 grant from the British Arts Council , a festival in London they called "Rock in Opposition" with the slogan: "The music the record companies don't want you to hear". The event took place on 12 March 1978 at the New London Theatre with the following groups performing:

*Henry Cow (England)
*Stormy Six (Italy)
*Samla Mammas Manna (Sweden)
*Univers Zero (Belgium)
*Etron Fou Leloublan (France)

While "Rock in Opposition" was never intended to be a formal organisation, the festival did generate "a lot of press around the world". This prompted the five bands to discuss future plans and in December 1978 they met at Sunrise Studio in Kirchberg, Switzerland to reconstitute Rock in Opposition as a collective. By this time Henry Cow no longer existed as a group, but as RIO's prime mover its former members still actively participated.

RIO's primary aim was to represent and promote its members. It was decided that membership should remain closed and small, although new members would be welcome provided they (i) adhered to "musical excellence" (as evaluated by the collective); (ii) worked actively "outside the music business"; and (iii) had a "social commitment to Rock". Using these criteria, three new members were elected:

*Art Zoyd (France)
*Art Bears (England, made up of former Henry Cow members)
*Aksak Maboul (Belgium)

A second RIO festival, organised by Stormy Six, took place between 26 April and 1 May 1979 at al Teatro dell'Elfo in Milan, Italy where all seven groups performed, the original four (minus Henry Cow) plus the three new groups. During the festival, the RIO members met formally again to discuss the way forward. However, despite some constructive discussion, disagreements arose between the groups regarding RIO's role and matters were left unresolved. Two further RIO festivals took place in Sweden and Belgium, but no new meetings, and by the end of 1979, RIO as an organisation had "quietly slipped away".

Recommended Records

Towards the end of 1978, Chris Cutler from Henry Cow and Art Bears and one of the active participants in RIO, had established Recommended Records (RēR), an independent record label and distribution network for RIO and similar artists. When RIO folded as an organisation, RēR continued RIO's work by representing and promoting marginalised musicians and groups. RēR became a "virtual" RIO, and "... is part of the continuing legacy of RIO".

RIO as a genre

When RIO ceased being an organisation its name moved into the public domain where it took on the meaning of a music genre. While RIO never referred to a type of music (the original RIO bands were quite diverse musically), it became used by listeners, musicians, and distributors to classify bands (generally bands that appeared at the RIO festivals or bands related to or derived from the original RIO bands).

Bands familiarized with the RIO movement and genre today include: Thinking Plague (USA), Present (Belgium), Miriodor (Canada), Ahvak (Israel), NeBeLNeST (France), Nazca (Mexico), Banda Elástica (Mexico), Le Silo (Japan), Six Cylindres En V (France), La STPO (La Société des Timides à la Parade des Oiseaux) (France), Panza (Argentina), Klimperei (France), 5uu's (USA), Guapo (UK), Gösta Berlings Saga (Sweden) and U Totem (USA). The term "RIO" today is almost synonymous with Avant-progressive rock or Experimental rock.


A "reunion" festival took place at the Maison de la Musique de Cap Découverte in Carmaux, France in April 2007. The spirit of the original festival was preserved in that only artists of quality, innovation and the willingness to be "in opposition" to the commercial music industry performed. The lineup at this event included: Magma, Faust, the Peter Blegvad trio (including Chris Cutler), Present, Zao, Mats Morgan, Guapo, NeBeLNeST, Salle Gaveau and GMEA.

A second edition of the France RIO event is scheduled to take place in September 2009 at the same venue as the first. The provisional lineup is Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Koenji Hyakkei, Jannick Top Infernal Machina, Univers Zero, Magma, Charles Hayward, Present, The Muffins, Aranis and Yolk.

See also


  • a. The text of the ticket below the flyer varies depending on source of the picture. On the Stormy Six homepage it clearly says "FIVE ROCK GROUPS THE RECORD COMPANIES DON'T WANT YOU TO HEAR.", whereas at SquidCo the ticket is not legible and a bubble (incorrectly?) says "THE ROCK SHOWS THE RECORD COMPANIES DON'T WANT YOU TO HEAR."


External links

Search another word or see setting in oppositionon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature