After Kurt Cobain's suicide "Grunge" became "Alternative." It wasn't that all those bands broke up at once, just that Nirvana and the other Seattle bands were always at the center of that scene. After Cobain's death, a lot of bands not from Seattle began making their presence known.
The Alternative bands that appeared in the mid-90s were more varied than the Grunge acts. Rap was fused with metal. Ska made a brief but forgettable comeback. Many other bands were so weird that they defied easy categorization, and placing them in the Alternative category was the easiest option at the time.
When I look back at this period two bands stand out: Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine. Faith No More predated Grunge of course, but as the Grunge bands faded from the scene Faith No More got a whole lot more interesting. At around the same time Rage Against the Machine was offering something a lot harsher, a lot less introspective than Grunge. "Killing in the Name," man. That song was huge.
I saw Rage open for Primus (another Alternative band) and Alice in Chains on the Lollapalooza tour. You could tell Grunge was on its way out even then. Tool was on the second stage, and more electronic bands like White Zombie and Nine Inch Nails were mentioned heavily in our conversations.
Tool, flailing away in a corner of that huge festival, was a band I came to love. It was impossible to hear them over Front 242's irritating performance, but upon hearing them later on I was an immediate fan. Maynard James Keenan remains one of the great rock vocalists, and I enjoyed the first Perfect Circle album a lot too.
Radiohead was also getting noticed then. Their first album appeared alongside the Grunge stuff, but by the Lollapalooza show The Bends had appeared and I was a rabid fan. In the wake of Grunge that band spoke to a lot of people in Seattle, and their fanbase there endures to this day. Don't even get me started on OK Computer. I listened to that album continuously for weeks.
Korn appeared around that time too. "ArE yOu ReAdY?" Man, that song was big. Tom Morello likes to disown bands like Korn, but I think they were doing a lot more than ripping off Rage. Is some of their output ridiculous in retrospect? Of course it is, but I'd take Korn over bands like Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and Creed any day of the week.
Shudder to Think was more out of left field. Their album 50,000 B.C. is still one of my favorites. As Grunge began to implode, record companies signed up any band they considered "grungy," and bands like Shudder to Think were thus given their shot on MTV. The Toadies were another example of this trend.
Another plus to the demand for anything "alternative" was that bands like Bad Brains gained a bigger following. Bad Brains started as a punk band, and became something much stranger later on. I saw them open for Living Colour not long after attending Lollapalooza, and that show is still one of the best concerts I've ever been to.
Fishbone? I always hated Fishbone. Sorry. Ozomatli? Anyone remember them? I liked their first album a lot.
Other bands I remember from back then: 4 Non Blondes, Stone Temple Pilots, Frank Black, Modest Mouse, Queens of the Stone Age, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Smashing Pumpkins and Urge Overkill. Of these bands Frank Black was my unquestioned favorite.
Looking back at it now, the 4 Non Blondes album is somewhat embarrassing. Their vocalist is/was excellent, but man some of those lyrics are super cringey. Stone Temple Pilots, hated by many Grunge fans at the time, is pretty much universally embraced now. And without irony. I didn't like Modest Mouse and Queens of the Stone Age until much later, but I often listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Urge Overkill in my car.