Music reverberated high and low: in the cellars, in the studios, in the theatres. The occupied spaces in the outskirts were hotspots of activity and Bologna was at the centre of the new languages, from avant-garde to post-rock, rap and hip-hop.
A snapshot of Bologna in the early 1990s reveals a wealth of parallel, superimposed artistic movements and currents, some congruent, some not. Underground music was increasingly establishing itself in the outskirts, seeking here its identity and liberty, especially through rehearsal rooms, youth centres, festivals and events.
The Covo Club, born during the previous decade in the attics of the Casalone di San Donnino, increasingly came to the fore in the panorama of live music in the city, hosting local, national and international artists. As well as the Covo, Via Zagabria was home until 1993 to the Sottotetto Music Club, which then moved further into the outskirts, in the Quartiere San Donato.
The Estragon put on its first concerts. Initially in the outskirts, in the Quartiere San Vitale, it later moved to premises along Via Stalingrado, near the Arena Parco Nord, subsequently named after Joe Strummer, leader of the Clash.
The Parco Nord, also in the outskirts, hosted festivals, concerts and international events dedicated to the wider city audiences, such as Monsters of Rock, the Independent Days Festival and MTV Day.
The city also opened towards musical influences, going beyond the mainstream.
In 1993, the Scandellara Rock Festival was inaugurated in the park of the same name along the city bypass. This yearly summer event attracted a vast audience and was received with enthusiasm. It offered concerts by local and national artists, including independents, with a wide range of styles.
IRMA Records was an independent label created in 1988. It was named after a Bolognese brothel of the 1950s. Eclectic and active in various musical areas, it developed a catalogue of over 12,000 titles, distributed throughout the world, including house, acid jazz, funk, fusion, disco and much more.
The Isola nel Kantiere was an artistic laboratory, open to creative and communicative influences. The initial punk and hardcore energy was evolving towards the nascent Bolognese hip-hop movement, partly as a result of the graffiti experience.
In 1991, Isola Posse All Stars published “Stop al panico” as a reaction to the Uno Bianca murders. The song placed prime emphasis on youthful unrest, which was strongly felt in the city as a result of the social trauma of the preceding years. It marked a turning point in the growing Bolognese and national hip-hop culture, which had a fundamental contribution in Soul Boy.
The Century Vox label, born in Bologna in the context linked to the Isola nel Kantiere, produced Isola Posse All Stars, Sud Sound System, Papa Ricky, O.T.R. and, in 1994, “SxM” dei Sangue Misto, in which Neffa, DJ Gruff and Deda took part.
“SxM”, as well as being the first album of the Sangue Misto, bored a furrow in the structure of the hip-hop movement that went far beyond the Bolognese dimension. In this, the city mirrored its geographical position, becoming at one and the same time a hub of convergence and a nucleus of expansion on the Italian scene.
Coexisting in the area of Via del Pratello were artistic entities born from the combined experiences of squatting. Arising from this context were the Massimo Volume of Emidio Clementi and Umberto Palazzo, who moved away to form the Santo Niente. Together with these, there emerged the Starfuckers and other groups which matched post rock influence with experimentation and avant-garde mingled with literature, proposing a break with the canons on which rock had run aground.
Angela Baraldi made her debut on record in 1990 with the album “Viva”, produced by Lucio Dalla and the Pressing label. In 1993 she took part in the Festival di Sanremo with “A piedi nudi” and in 1994 she made the “Mi vuoi bene o no?” This was followed in 1996 by “Baraldi Lubrificanti”. Born artistically in the 1980s, she alternated musical engagements with the theatre and the cinema. She appeared in the film “Jack Frusciante è uscito dal gruppo”, taken from the novel of that name by the Bolognese writer Enrico Brizzi.
Samuele Bersani made his artistic debut in 1991, in Lucio Dalla’s tour “Cambio”, singing “Il mostro” with only piano accompaniment. In 1992, he presented his first album, “C'hanno preso tutto”, from which emerged the single “Chicco e spillo”. It was followed by the album “Freak” (1994) and, in 1996, the text of “Canzone”, a single from Dalla’s album “Canzoni”.
Also linked to Lucio and Bersani were the Clessidra, a Bolognese band that handled the recording of the album “Canzoni” and, after their debut in “Combinazioni”, recorded “Ciao” for Lucio and “Asile's world” for Elisa, her second album.
At the end of 1999, the Lùnapop published their debut album “... squérez?” from which the single “50 Special” went unchallenged in the charts. Catalysts in the 2000s of a new enthusiasm, they notably influenced musical production in Bologna and in Italy. “Qualcosa di grande” won the 2000 Festivalbar and their last appearance was at the Arena di Verona, during the finale of the 2001 festival. The group disbanded in 2002, but Cremonini had a distinguished career as a soloist, becoming one of the leading names among Italian songwriters of the new millennium.