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Development phase: Mid 1980s
Place of origin: Great Britain
Stylistic precursors
Psychedelic rock , space rock , noise rock , post punk , ethereal , gothic rock
Slowdive , My Bloody Valentine , Lush
Instruments typical of the genre
Electric guitar - electric bass - drums - guitar synthesizer
Stylistic successor
Nu-Gaze, Blackgaze

Under the name Shoegazing (also Shoegaze or Shoegazer ) varieties of rock music are summarized that developed in the mid-1980s in Great Britain and established themselves internationally in the 1990s. Shoegazing is considered to be one of the essential precursors and influencing factors of the later Britpop and Art or Postrock wave.


My Bloody Valentine live (2013)

Shoegazing as very indulgent music is mostly characterized by dense, but melodic, extremely polyphonic guitar walls that are created with the help of electronic effects devices and synthesizers . Compositions of this kind often alternate with quieter passages that use less distortion than reverb , flanger and feedback effects.

The influences are manifold. The bands got their inspiration from a wide variety of musical styles, such as rock of the 1960s ( The Doors , The Velvet Underground ), post-punk ( Joy Division ), Gothic ( Siouxsie and the Banshees , The Cure ), Ethereal ( Cocteau Twins , Dead Can Dance ), Noise-Rock ( Sonic Youth ) and Ambient ( Brian Eno ). One feature that all bands share, however, is a clearly psychedelic basic pattern on which most compositions are based. Shoegazing is therefore a phenomenon that arose in the course of the neo-psychedelia of the 1980s.

In general, two currents are united under the genre name Shoegazing : On the one hand, the more subtle, melancholy-spherical variety, known in the USA as Dream Pop , which was mainly represented by bands such as Cocteau Twins , Lush and Slowdive and primarily in the Ethereal - Roots in the early 1980s era. On the other hand there is the strongly psychedelic and noise-rock- oriented guitar sound, which is also known as noise pop , represented by groups such as Ride , the early Boo Radleys or My Bloody Valentine . The latter completed the synthesis of both directions with their album " Loveless " from 1991, which is considered one of the highlights of the shoegazing era.

A number of style elements of psychedelic rock can be found exemplarily in a song like “Seagull” by Ride : the polyphonic singing, the bass line based on the 60s beat, the overall melancholy mood of the piece and its length (cf. “Rain” by the Beatles or “ Eight Miles High "by the Byrds ).


Miki Berenyi of Lush supposedly the eponymous Schuhanstarren ( English shoe gazing )

Origin of name

The term shoegazing (Eng. " Staring at the shoes") is an ironic term coined by the British music press. It refers to the musical protagonists who, when performing live, often gave the impression that they were staring at their shoes shyly or obliviously. A frequently used explanation for this behavior is that the guitarists concentrated on the guitar effects devices on the floor .


Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine

Among the pioneers of the shoegazing movement are bands such as Spacemen 3 ( Sound of Confusion , 1986), Cocteau Twins ( Victorialand , 1986), The Jesus and Mary Chain ( Psychocandy , 1985), My Bloody Valentine ( Isn't Anything , 1988) and Galaxie 500 ( Today , 1988 / On Fire , 1989). The British radio DJ John Peel played a key role in the discovery of some important bands and the establishment of the genre, albeit not in the name itself.

By around 1992 the shoegazing movement had reached its peak. After the beginning of the grunge wave, it was declared dead around 1993, although there were still a few bands who continued the style. To this day there have been publications, often instrumental ones, that would not have been possible without the early shoegazing period: for example by Broken Dog (1996) or the early Mogwai (1997).

A new shoegazing scene has established itself in Canada and the northern regions of the USA, although it is mostly called Dream Pop there. Examples are bands that (similar to Slowdive ) are partly based on old Ethereal Wave groups and partly use sounds that were used by Robin Guthrie (former guitarist of the Cocteau Twins). Some of them are Half String, Deardarkhead and also the Closedown, which is clearly based on Slowdive, Alison's Halo and Windy & Carl. At the same time there was an increasing correlation between shoegazing, ethereal and gothic rock . Examples include groups such as Vendemmian ( Honesty and Lies ), Siddal ( Beds of Light ), Autumn's Gray Solace, Lowsunday, Love Spirals Downwards or Tearwave.

Since the end of the 1990s, groups like Southpacific, Airiel, The Meeting Places, Air Formation and Readymade (not to be confused with the German rock band from Wiesbaden) have brought together some new representatives of the genre. The Chicago band Film School , which has clear references to the early works of Chapterhouse, has had great success in recent years . The group A Place to Bury Strangers represents the style influenced by noise rock. A Peruvian band with more spherical sounds is Resplandor .

More recently there have been bands from the Blackgaze area , which combine elements of shoegazing and post-rock with black metal influences, well-known representatives are Wolves in the Throne Room , Deafheaven and Alcest .


The following overview shows a rough chronological classification of shoegazing in selected British musical trends of the 1980s and 1990s.

Beach House Dream Pop Mercury Rev Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post-Rock Oasis Britpop Massive Attack Trip-Hop The Stone Roses Manchester Rave Spacemen 3 The Jesus and Mary Chain Noise-Rock Cocteau Twins Dark Wave#Ethereal Bauhaus (Band) Gothic Rock

Publications with key qualities

Until 1990

Until 2000

Web links

Commons : Shoegazing  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A Half-Hour With Ambient / Drone Duo Windy & Carl Interview, Ambient Church, October 3, 2017, accessed September 7, 2019.