[@minimoose18 / @gutknot / @g0thc0wgirl on TikTok]

Giddy up: Y'allternative is the latest alt trend taking TikTok by storm

Welcome to Scene Report, where we highlight significant, underground scenes and subcultures across the globe.

Country isn’t all honky-tonks and pickup trucks. It’s also about daring, death-obsessed outlaws, a deep appreciation for the land, and themes of loneliness and heartbreak. So, when you think about it, you could go as far as saying country is, well, pretty goth.

That might seem counterintuitive, but it’s something that’s been apparent to Southern goths for quite some time — and it’s just now taking off across the internet. Alternative Southerners are spearheading the latest subculture on TikTok: y’allternative. It’s taken the social media platform by storm with over 600 million views on its hashtag. According to TikToker Amelia Moose (known as minimoose18 online), y’allternative is “a mixture between goth and alternative [country].” It features everything from cowboy hat-wearing goth girls to alternative women driving tractors, and is helping alt-country fans find their own community.

Read more: How Whimsigoth evolved from a ’90s fashion fad to viral TikTok subculture

The y’allternative trend has been a long time in the making. According to TikToker Vitt (known as gutknot), she saw the term make the rounds on Tumblr back in 2014 or 2015. However, she didn’t embrace it at first. “I felt ashamed to be country,” the Tennessee native admits. But when Vitt rediscovered the y’allternative hashtag on TikTok, her worldview changed. Being y’allternative meant stripping away shame around Southern identity and discovering a niche within country culture. 

“As I grew up, I realized that I just hated the corporate capitalist version of [country music], where they’re just trying to make as much money off of the working class as possible,” Vitt explains.

After initially getting her start on hockey TikTok and later finding that the community wasn’t healthy for her, native Virginian Moose also found a home within y’allternative. “It was really helpful to express myself because it’s complicated being country, but also being alternative,” she says. Like Vitt, Moose found her own place within the subculture when neither the country or alternative communities were inclusive enough on their own. She says, “Not only am I one minority as being Asian, but I’m also a minority being a farmer.”

One way that the y’allternative community connects with one another is through their shared love of fashion. Just as cowboy hats and boots have become synonymous with country, style is instrumental to this subculture, too. According to Moose, y’allternative fashion is all about “flared jeans, black tops, and bodysuits,” integrating “silver jewelry” and “turquoise,” and always sporting “a bold black lip … along with eyeliner.” 


Like lemme go sell my farm and animals cause user12343 says i cant be country and wear black and like rock and country music lol #yallternative #gothcowgirl #fyp #goatfarmer #countryasian #country #western #countrytiktok

♬ Way of the Triune God (Hallelujah Version) – Tyler Childers

Music is also at the helm of y’allternative. Ash, who goes by g0thc0wgirl on TikTok and lives in rural Florida, argues that y’allternative goes beyond the aesthetic and is rooted in the music and country lifestyle. “I think the mix of those two genres, [alternative and country music], is really what it boils down to. Living in the country is, of course, a big part of it.”

The popularization of the y’allternative aesthetic coincides with a rise in rock and alternative-country music listening among Gen Zers. Alt-country in particular has been having a moment over the past few years, with the rise of artists like Turnpike Troubadours and Dexter and the Moonrocks. These bands and others combine country roots with alternative-rock to pioneer a new sound. Given the resurgence of pop-punk music in the mainstream, it only makes sense that y’allternative would become a popular spinoff of the trending sounds.

Like many TikTok “cores” and trends, y’allternative has been able to expand online because of its idiosyncratic aesthetic and accompanying viral sound. Ryan Fox, drummer of “Western space grunge” band Dexter and the Moonrocks (who recently dropped the single “Space Invader”), for instance, thinks that’s been integral to the movement. He says, “You have kids that are growing up working on a farm or in small cities, and they stumble upon a Nirvana or a Foo Fighters [on TikTok]. You also have people in cities taking subways listening to Zach Bryan or Tyler Childers.” 

yallternative band

[Dexter and the Moonrocks / Photo by Chloe Barney]

Frontman James Tuffs argues that y’allternative might be as appealing as it is because of how innovative it feels — like it’s this generation’s version of grunge, in that it’s created an aesthetic and sound that’s yet to be seen and heard. By incorporating rock sounds and visuals of the past, y’allternative music appeals to Gen Z’s affinity for nostalgia and revives a genre that was once declared irrelevant to many younger audiences.

Despite the internet’s fascination with goth girls and the rise of alt-country music, most TikTokers involved in the movement didn’t expect it to take off the way it has. That’s largely because of misconceptions that exist surrounding both country music and alternative style, whether it’s people not giving country a chance or Southerners being critical of alt looks or, as Moose explains, “the goth lifestyle” with its relationship to spirituality. 

Still — even after facing “weird stares” and disparaging “whispers” — it’s a community and subculture that’s based on solidarity. “It appeals to country people, it appeals to goth people, and it appeals to people who really don’t know anything about either of them, but have good taste,” Ash says.

It’s worth it, too, because for many Southerners who had yet to find a scene they fit into, it’s all about being true to yourself. Moose says, “Maybe some little girl who was raised on a farm and loves grunge, country music, and goth clothing — maybe she’s hiding herself. Maybe she’ll see me and realize that it’s okay to grow up like that, it’s okay to be yourself.” 

Even though cowboys may like to ride through the wild West alone, the y’allternative trend proves there’s something special in connecting with fellow outlaws who are both a little bit country, a little bit goth.