Nostalgia is strange, and in the current hip culture of 2014 it’s even more bizarre than it used to be. Now I don’t mean to be nostalgic about nostalgia, but there used to be a time when nostalgic things that we joyously reminisced about stayed in the past, exactly where we remembered them just as we remembered them; all perfect and cleaned up by years of misremembering—and most importantly, in the past. But recently, we seem to have this fascination with all things ‘90s or vintage and relating to our childhood. Now, I guess every generation grows up and goes to college, lets the hair dye wash out, and falls into some accounting position at that boring, square brick building down the street from Subway. But did earlier generations ever bring hoards of their favorite previously broken-up bands back to life like our generation did recently—like say, in the last 5 years or so? Because I’d bet that they didn’t, mostly because the whole thing seems a bit unnatural.
It’s absurd to think of all of the bands who’ve reunited or re-assembled their original line-ups since, let’s say, 2009 until now. Let’s do a quick rundown of some until my fingers drop off from my hands: At the Drive-In, Black Flag (in too many incarnations), Blink-182, Boy Sets Fire, Braid, Chiodos, Coheed & Cambria, Crime in Stereo, Desaparecidos, The Dismemberment Plan, The Early November, Fairweather, The Fall of Troy, Fall Out Boy, Fenix TX, Finch, Further Seems Forever, Hidden in Plain View, Hot Rod Circuit, Hot Water Music, I Am The Avalanche, Jesse & the Rippers (yes, from Full House) Knapsack, Lagwagon, The Lawrence Arms, My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, Number One Gun, Park, The Pixies, Planes Mistaken For Stars, The Postal Service, Quicksand, Refused, Rocket From the Crypt, Rx Bandits, Sense Field, Slapstick, Slowdive, Socratic, Spitalfield, The Starting Line, Sublime (with Rome replacing the deceased), Taking Back Sunday, Texas is the Reason, Transplants, and Yellowcard just to name too many. Even while compiling this list I noticed that the original John Mayer Trio will be reuniting on Late Night With Seth Myers later this month—and I’m just no longer surprised. It’s like the bully at middle school keeps stopping you in the same spot everyday to take your Fruit Gushers. I’ll still watch the John Mayer Trio reunite on TV and give the bully my delicious Gushers, but I’m not nearly as surprised as the first time he stole my fruit-syrup filled drops of heaven.
Is our obsession with nostalgia only fueling these reunions? It would seem like nostalgia is the new, hottest item to buy. No matter how distant and unreachable our favorite rockstars of old seemed when we were younger, these musicians are still a part of the world and are aware of popular culture. They understand that the cool, young hipsters of today are willing to buy your Dad’s used, “vintage” turtleneck from 1993 off of Ebay. So, they must not be oblivious to the notion that they were once in a novelty like that smelly old turtleneck, and hey, you’d be really stoked if your first favorite band reunites because it reminds you of the times when you would get up on a Saturday morning and watch music videos on VH1 and MTV instead of rushing out of bed to be 15 minutes late to your very important Methods in Business and Information Technology II class.
The thing is, lately when I read that Finch may begin work on a new album, or that Hawthorne Heights is playing a The Silence in Black and White anniversary tour it’s like I’ve been desensitized to all of this nostalgia and don’t really give all that much of a damn. And that’s weird, that’s unnatural, that’s not okay. Upon hearing such news, my 9th grade self would’ve promptly asked Mrs. Meckley for a bathroom-pass to go out in the hall and throw his early-2000s emo-loving fist up in the air with unfiltered joy at the news of a new Finch album. I still find Finch to have a monumental sound and early-day Hawthorne Heights holds a special place in my music collection, but now reunion tours and comeback albums just seem like a kind of familiar trick for bands to play.
Here’s the deal, it won’t be like killing an endangered black rhino if you support a reunited band, but if we all get caught up in this recent nostalgia-obsessed reunion resurgence and forget to pay a measly $5 cover to see a slew of local up-and-comings in a crowded, low-lit basement, then we’re doing a grave disservice to the music of our own generation—of our legacy. Besides, why pay $45 or more to go see a band reunite as some reincarnation of what they once were live when there are the next promising revolutionaries changing music in the decade you’re currently living in? So, I encourage you not to pay to see [legendary techno-scream-polka band] reunite at your local overpriced stadium. Instead, download a local emo revival band’s album off of Bandcamp for more than $0.01 instead, then meet them at their next basement show and talk about the good ol’ days back in the 90s and how the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie won’t be anything like the old ones. I dare you.
Drew Bankert is a freelance writer by day and emo revivalist by night. You can follow him on Facebook here, or send him a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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