I have a pretty firm band reunion policy. In a nutshell: “Leave the lengend alone.” Yes, the fanboy in me would give a non-essential organ to see The Smiths or The Replacements go at it one more time, but my kneejerk reaction to bands reforming after long (and sometimes nasty) breakups is: No, thanks. While I’ve been tempted to see many of the high-profile reunions of the last 20 years, I’ve passed on most. Sex Pistols? I’d rather not watch a bloated Johnny Lydon pretend to care (or not care). The Pixies? Eh. More on them later. Guns N’ Roses? Oh, please.
There have only been a few exceptions to my rule (Naked Raygun’s recent reunion the latest example): I remember seeing the Buzzcocks on their first U.S. tour in the late ’80s and leaving completely sated and sweaty. My girlfriend at the time opined, “They looked like a bunch of pasty old men up there.” Them were fighting words at the time–and we broke up the next day…. I’m still kicking myself for not seeing My Bloody Valentine on their All Tomorrow’s Party-inspired batch of shows…. And I almost went to see the Avengers a couple of years back but just couldn’t do it: Penelope Houston was my first punk rock crush, and I wanted to keep it that way.
So you can imagine that I was torn when I heard the news of Pavement’s decision to tour again. Like so many other artists, they’ve put aside whatever personal or creative differences they may have had in the past to recapture those indie rock bygone days. Twenty years ago, economics—and not necessarily creative urges–played a part in the Buzzcocks’ decision to get back together, but there weren’t the kinds of opportunities that exist today.
Pavement will surely make the rounds on the festival circuit and get handsomely rewarded for it (as they should). But it will be interesting to see if, like fellow college rock pioneers Dinosaur Jr., they’ll play with renewed vigor, or, like the Pixies (another of their luminaries), you’ll swear you can see the dollar signs in their pupils. I make the distinction because the latter toured relentlessly (for sizable guarantees) and released NO NEW MUSIC. Dinosaur Jr., meanwhile, apparently worked through the very public baggage that existed among them and re-emerged with all new material that rivals the best in their already memorable canon.
Will I go see Pavement on this tour? Most likely. And will they be writing new material? With a back catalog as strong as there’s, it’s hard to fathom that they wouldn’t someday record another album. I’ll even bet my autographed copy of Another Music in a Different Kitchen on it.