It's generally seen that classical music is a much more sophisticated and complex genre of music than rock, and in several ways this is true. Writing a two hour symphony for a 100 piece orchestra is no small feat, and requires a massive understanding of music theory as well as the workings of several different instruments. But there are several things that I believe rock does much better than classical music which generally don't seem to get as fairly acknowledged. Here are some of them:
1. Singing and Playing at the same time
Playing a syncopated rhythm on guitar while singing lead vocals that control a room is one of the most difficult things that a person can do. People can spend entire years of life hoping to be a competent live musician at one instrument, and several rockers can do two at one. Players like David Byrne or Josh Homme can manage a complex and rhythmic guitar piece while also pulling off a huge vocal performance, and there's not much you can say about that other than it being insanely impressive and requiring an exhausting amount of practice.
While intonation is obviously very important in classical music, finding the right tone is often a very different task for guitar, due to the wide array of different setups available through different amps and pedals. Guitarists and producers can spend hours twisting knobs and fiddling with switches to find the perfect tone, giving themselves a major headache in the process. This is just part of playing in a massively competitive industry where you need to get your playing to stand out as much as you can, and this shows the dedication that rock musicians have.
3. Playing without lessons
While the vast majority of classical players have had a dedicated teacher to show them the ropes and get them to a professional level, most rock stars could never afford this luxury, and learnt by simply playing in their room for hours on end. This means that if they hear an interesting technique on a record, then they have to painstakingly work out how to play it themselves, rather than simply getting an expert to show them. While this is less true in the internet age, it was the way most classic rock stars worked, and several hard working musicians still do today.
Rock musicians never play to sheet music. Most of them can't even read it at all. This means that if you're going to lay a piece you have to know it inside out and back to front, whether it's a three chord punk song or a fifteen minute prog epic. As I'm sure many of you found, remembering something simple like whether to go into the pre-chorus or another bridge next can become an arduous task when you've got to perform in front of hundreds of people, and means that you can never afford to lose concentration.
5. Playing while rocking out
Watch this video:
Here we see John Frusciante playing a tight, rhythmic guitar piece which also requires an intricate, syncopated right hand performance. And he does that while flying about the stage, spinning in circles. And then out of nowhere he's at the microphone to sing backing vocals without taking a breath. If that's not talent then show me what is. Playing your instrument at the professional standard is one thing, but in the rock genre people manage to do this while jumping about the stage and looking like their playing is the last thing they're concentrated with.
6. Inspiring the masses
This is the big one. While classical music is obviously important, having been around for centuries, the world of music has never been the same since rock and roll took off in the '50s. Rock and pop music simply has an ability to touch average people in a way which had never been seen before. Rock music gave anybody a chance, so long as they had a message to get across. One of my favourite facts has always been that the Beatles had to stop touring because amplification louder than the excited screams of their fans didn't exist. That shows how powerful music can be, and how big a response it can invoke in so many people, and really what makes rock music special.