It’s All Greek to Them: The 20 Frattiest Bands – Rolling Stone
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It’s All Greek to Them: The 20 Frattiest Bands

In time for spring break, raise a Solo cup to these frat-friendly acts

Dave Matthews Band limp bizkit

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A quick preface: Not all fraternity members stomp around campus like Revenge of the Nerds' Ogre, tossing dweebs from balconies and glugging beer out of football trophies. Some of them are just red-blooded American bros, searching for meaning and identity alongside comforting scores of their alpha male brethren, hopefully while holding a red solo cup. And they have their own soundtrack, their own canon of artists, to whom ripping bong hits, studying for econ class and playing casual-but-actually-super-intense games of ultimate frisbee sound just about perfect. 

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Here are 20 bands that, whether it's fair to the artists or not, have become culturally synonymous with sending emotionally maturing, oft-shirtless collegiate men into slam-dancing frenzies, flirtations with their feminine side and hazy forays into psychedelic communion. By Kenny Herzog


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Along with the Beastie Boys, Guster is the other troupe of nice Jewish boys on this list (Alpha Epsilon Pi represent!). Except unlike those bad-boy rappers, Adam Gardner and his bandmates never exactly trafficked in rhymin' and stealin'. The Bostonians are a power-pop outfit at heart, but their tendency for wearing a bit of hacky-sack style on their sleeve — not to mention sharing stages with the likes of DMB and Disco Biscuits — assured them a perennial spot on frat parties' playlists somewhere between Widespread Panic and Fountains of Wayne.

jack johnson

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Jack Johnson

The mood of spring break changed forever when Jack Johnson surfed up to shore in the early aughts. Gone (or comparatively so) were long nights of aiming for conquests at Senor Frogs. In their place? Wee hours spent wooing one-night stands by the campfire, listening and playing along with Johnson's cool-cat scatting and softly strummed chords. Chill. Very chill.

The Kingsmen

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The Kingsmen

It wasn't their fault. The Kingsmen were just scrappy dudes from Portland, Oregon, whose garage-rock spin on Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" crossed over and became a kind of source code for "frat rock." In retrospect, the song's subterranean clamor was ideally suited to groups of young adults clumsily cavorting in dirty basements. How that tradition got interpreted by future generations as a call to embrace shallow swagger and cookie cutter hedonism, we'll never know.

Limp Bizkit


Limp Bizkit

We all know what went down at Woodstock '99: an already over-pumped, under-sedate crowd got whipped into a frenzy amid Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst's imploring them — per their hit song — to "break stuff." Violence, arson and alleged rapes broke out, and Bizkit emerged scathed and labeled as riotous. But long before that, the rhyming riffers cemented their legacy as advocates for being young, dumb and full of something or other. 




It's pretty hard to find fault with the unapologetically spoiled and outrageous uncle-nephew twosome whose father and grandfather, respectively, happens to be Motown founder Berry Gordy. Nor was the motivation behind "Party Rock Anthem" any more divine than landing beachfront performances for nubile ladies (see: their appearance on The Real World: Cancun). LMFAO, prior to their 2012 hiatus, had quickly become a kind of quintessential 21st century fraternity house band. 

Dave Matthews Band

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Dave Matthews Band

Whether one considers Dave Matthews Band an ambassador between musical worlds or a heathen entity simply muddying waters, there is no question that they are most responsible for sparking frat-kids' migration toward Jerry Bears and Bonnaroo. Initially, the incongruous sound of violins, brass instruments and folk guitar emanating out of Sigma Chi and Tau Kappa Epsilon windows seemed alien. But soon enough, former high school quarterbacks and clique figureheads were majority residents at DMB's open-air concerts, and band and bros became inseparable. Matthews might deserve better, or they may deserve each other, but nothing calls for this.

Rob Derhak Al Schnier moe.

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More than most bands in this gallery, upstate New York jam stalwarts Moe. sound the call to inclusiveness. Particularly in their native Northeast (though certainly beyond), thousands of would-be masters of the universe lay down their arms, heed that cry and embrace the busy funk of their favorite Buffalo, New York soldiers. As a bonus, the band is unafraid of their name's punning possibilities (e.g. their annual Moe.Down festival), epitomizing that while their arrangements may be progressive, the message is almost irresistibly uncomplicated. 

mumford and sons

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Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons are British, but they're also closer in age to your typical American fraternity rusher or recent alum than most bands on this list. And though some detractors insist the band's Appalachian-inflected folk is derivative, starting with their 2009 debut, Sigh No More, Marcus Mumford and friends have consistently hit that sweet spot between DMB whimsy and Zac Brown earthiness. Mumford dialed things back last year, but frat brothers and sorority sisters are biding their time by serenading each other with "I Will Wait."

old crow medicine show

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Old Crow Medicine Show

One wouldn't expect a bunch of Prairie Home Companion regulars to jibe with the restless spirit of youthful American pledges. Yet, somehow, Old Crow's "Wagon Wheel" is a sensation at mixers nationwide, causing dudes to sway in unison, sloshing half-full solo cups side-to-side in time to the song. The Tennessee bluegrass revivalists can also be credited with busking a path for Mumford & Sons' popularity, solidifying Medicine Show's place in fraternity lore. 

pearl jam

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Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam have evolved from grunge pioneers and iconoclasts to endlessly touring elder statesmen. And at no point along that journey have they lost an unwavering commitment from fraternal followers, rendering them that community's harder-rocking counterpart to their softer, jammier faves. More than twenty years on, it's likely that past brothers have since ritually instilled PJ love in their university-bound sons, ensuring that Eddie Vedder's quivering baritone will remain "Alive" for eons of Greek-subsidized concert outings to come. 

Les Claypool Primus

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These days, Primus frontman Les Claypool is a permanent resident on the hippie-frat scene, headlining events such as the aforementioned Moe.Down with side projects like his Duo De Twang and Flying Flog Brigade. But back in 1993, who could have thought that Primus' oddball hit, "My Name is Mud" would capture some of the alternative breakthrough's lightning and have bros moshing into each other in Lollapalooza pits with terrifying lack of coordination? In that sense, they've spanned the entire stylistic arc of modern frat-rock − a certain South Park theme didn't deter that allegiance − even if Claypool himself is about as freaky as they come. 

Zack De La Rocha Tom Morello Rage Against The Machine

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Rage Against The Machine

Though its members were rooted in hardcore, activist folk and militant hip-hop, Rage Against the Machine's blistering protest songs struck a chord almost instantly with unwashed fratty masses, who, in devoting four years to institutional social conformity, perhaps took some solace in the band's non-comformist message. There's still a surreal disconnect watching privileged business majors thrash around to lyrics about the ills of conformity, but consider it another log on the Nineties' unresolved heap of cultural irony. 

Flea Anthony Kiedis Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Red Hot Chili Peppers

Now here's a band whose affection among rowdy boys made utter sense. White-boy funk factor? Check. Penchant for neglecting clothing and flaunting penises in major publications? Two for two. Little agenda besides encouraging hedonism and rad times? Hat trick. The Chili Peppers have mellowed somewhat with age, but Anthony Kiedis and Flea will be darned if they're too old to cover their sinewy frames with clothed material, a standard any frat hopeful can aspire to.

sublime bradley nowell

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Late Sublime singer/guitarist Bradley Nowell sadly died just as his band was making it huge. Like, Green Day huge. Except Billie Joe and his crew probably never dominated dorm stereos with the omnipresence of Sublime's 1994 album 40oz. to Freedom and '96's self-titled LP. Arriving on radio just as the ska-punk trend was cresting, Nowell's songwriting prowess and unabashed partying aspirations connected kinetically with frat boys and their sorority kin (something which one suspects Nowell may have both loved and hated). And like Pearl Jam, former college grads have since passed Sublime's music down as a spring break tradition.

Hunter Brown David Murphy Sound Tribe Sector 9

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Sound Tribe Sector 9

Sound Tribe Sector 9 lays down jazzy licks like Phish, feel the funk a la Moe. and, as the clincher, color their circuitous jams with electronic flourishes. All of which is manna from jah for anyone looking to open their mind without overloading their senses. STS9's sound can both float through the Electric Forest and buoyantly groove-out Bonnaroo. They are, down to their catchy alpha-numeric acronym, the fraternally allied curiosity-seeker's ideal psychedelic experience. That is, even if they kind of sound like Spyro Gyra.

Jake Cinniger Ryan Stasik Brendan Bayliss Umphrey's McGee

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Umphrey’s McGee

In 2014, any ensemble whose songs meander beyond 10 minutes seem to get tagged as a jam band. In actuality, Umphrey's McGee's blinding light shows, crunching rhythms, reverb-abetted vocals and virtuoso instrumentation more closely recall their admired lexicon of prog and hard rock legends like Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd. What they also share with those latter demagogues is a kinship with young male acolytes − many, naturally, of the fraternal order and searching for further extended family − who want their exploratory music heavy, but not black-metal heavy, and weird, but not Boredoms weird. Now if only we'd all agree to do something with that band name.

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