Last week word got out that the reunited Pixies fired their bassist, Kim Shattuck, formerly of the Muffs.
Obvious pocket-stuffing aside, Kim is probably better off without a band whose primary front person is just a dude who put out some solo records that never got as much attention as the Pixies, since Kim Deal left this year too.
The Pixies are one of several bands that have reunited to tour on their old material & cash in on the sweet sweet taste of nostalgia. Both The Lemonheads & The Breeders, for instance, recently toured by promising to play one of their popular records that were released over twenty years ago.
What makes The Breeders different from Lynyrd Skynyrd, who have been touring on “Sweet Home Alabama” without their original singer for over thirty years? NOTHING.
This does not include bands that reunite for special occasions, like label anniversaries. When I went to XX Merge a few years ago, one of the things I loved was seeing normal people who don’t necessarily play music anymore get on stage with their old band. It was interesting to see them work out the chemistry and the choreography of playing together again. Special shows like this have also led to new records from Versus, Polvo and my Bloody Valentine. All three of these bands have released really fantastic records since getting back together.
What are some other reasons reunion tours are shitty? Let’s take a look.
It is extremely boring
I understand that nostalgia has been driving baby boomer classic rock record sales for years. It generates money. But who really wants to be stuck in the past?
Look, I have no problem with people who explore the back catalog of an artist they love–I do it all the time! However, there is something boring and, quite frankly, pathetic, about someone who listens only to the music of their youth and criticizes anything new.
No new material/new material sucks
I do not want to see a band play all of a record that came out twenty years ago. It reeks of cashing in on nostalgia and hiding behind better music because nothing you can write now is listenable.
The new Pixies EP, which a friend of mine says is pretty good and I do not believe for one second, got a dreaded 1.0 on Pitchfork (I know they give records ratings like this for pageviews but that doesn’t make EP-1 less shitty). This band should just not be together and releasing music.
Reunion tours are bullshit, especially when they create a record no one requested.
And here is also where Superchunk rules all because their new music is amazing. Case in point:
I have never asked them (hahhah) but if Superchunk stopped making kick ass new records together they would just go back to their billion other projects, which is fine with everyone.
While this might be a negative for some, there are so many things we would not have without a band break up: “Fight for This Love” by Cheryl Cole, that Robbie Williams video where he’s naked, all of Justin Timberlake’s output, Graham Nash’s “Military Madness,” Ryan Adam’s Heartbreaker (I cannot imagine a world without this record), Joey Fatone’s performance in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Stay out of it, Nick Lachey!”, Gary Barlow as X Factor judge, not to mention the fine solo work of artists like Adrian Belew, Lou Reed, Diana Ross (and therefore Dreamgirls!), Brian Eno and Neil fucking Young.
A few weeks ago, I procured last minute tickets to see Neutral Milk Hotel, a band who I saw open up for Superchunk in 1998, but who, since then, have become a huge cult hit that everyone regrets missing back in the day. Jeff Mangum has horrible stage fright and also feels a great deal of pressure to recreate former success (read the Merge book). Unlike some other acts, everyone wants them to put another record. Everyone. He toured solo here and there but this was the first time he’d played with a full band in years (they were part of the Elephant 6 collective and had all been playing with other acts in the meantime). I cried most of the show. I cried because the songs were sad. I cried because my memories of those songs were even sadder. I cried because I didn’t know if he had it in him to make another record. I cried because I remember what he used to look like and imagined that his full beard and hat were things he used to hide himself. I was so happy to see NMH but I don’t know if seeing them again was fulfilling.
So much music
Why listen to records you loved in high school when you can listen to the constant stream of new music that arrives on bandcamp and in indie record stores each day? I know it’s overwhelming, but find a blog or writer you can trust and do some hunting. You know that feeling you’re trying to recreate by listening to “Gigantic” all the time? Get lost in a soaring new hook. In a few weeks I will post my favorite records of the year and a playlist full of songs that make me feel things (and give me “church hands”). That is something people should get to experience over and over.