Toad the Wet Sprocket played last Friday night at Track 29. And Neutral Milk Hotel is playing there in October. What do these two bands have in common? They both broke up years ago.
And now, they are back together.
Toad broke up in 1998, only touring a few times in the 15 years since. And Neutral Milk Hotel broke up in 1999 and just recently announced their first reunion tour.
These are just a couple among the many bands that seem to be getting back together these days.
The Replacements, Black Flag (in various forms) and boy-band-super-groups New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees are all touring again. And some are even recording new material.
All of this makes me feel old.
But it also has me torn.
On one hand, I think it’s pretty neat. I was a big Toad fan in high school, and it was fun to be able to see them with my cousin and my sister, who was an even bigger fan than me, after so many years. It was fun to relive old memories.
But part of me thinks this trend might be too much.
I mean, if every band that ever broke up got back together, then the magic of it all would be lost, the excitement would cease to exist. "Oh, Oingo Boingo got back together? Big surprise! Everybody’s doing it."
And what about the memories we hold of the bands and their music from when they were in their prime? We have memories and associate those bands with certain times in our lives. And not just the music they played but the clothes they wore, the way they looked in their youth, the things that were going on in the world at the time and in our lives. Would seeing those bands again—older, fatter, balder, grayer—take away from those memories?
And would those bands be as good as they were in their heyday? Would they be as good as we remember them?
What if The Beatles had gotten back together? Expectations would have been so high that, quite possibly, there’s no way they could have been met. And ultimately, fans would have been disappointed. But then again, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to see John, Paul, George and Ringo play together just one more time?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited about the prospect of seeing some of these bands since I missed them the first time out.
But then again, I think sometimes that some things are left better to nostalgia.
Of course, band reunions are nothing new. Groups have been getting back together for years. Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and Led Zeppelin, among others, have all gotten back together in some form or another. And fans have rejoiced.
But what about all of those bands that have been together for years, stayed together through thick and thin, through hell and high water, through sickness and in health? What about the Rolling Stones, who just celebrated 50 years together? Or Riverbend darlings Lynyrd Skynyrd, who have simply replaced band members over the years as original members have died? Do fans of groups that have been together for decades go to see these bands perform for the new music, or is it more for the nostalgia? Or is it just for the opportunity to see these bands perform, just to say they saw them play?
I guess Neil Young said it best when he sang, "Is it better to burn out or fade away?"
What do you think? Do you like it when bands get back together? If so, why? Or do you think they should leave well enough alone and stay broken up? Sound off below.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.