This is the first thing I’ve written in a while, so I fully expect to be a bit rusty. Let me see. Ok.
So, lately I have been thinking a lot about bands, at least the ones who’ve broken up. The bands I discovered after they had parted, quit, died, etc. It’s always been the fan’s dream for a reunion. Of course! Who doesn’t want to see the good times again, those times you were unaware of or not yet born to be a part of. The times that have been so well documented after the fact, the acts whose influence and tremendous power is felt only after they’ve given it up. The reunion.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about ever since I heard that Pavement is having a reunion tour. This was some time ago now, and the thought had strayed, until the Lineup for Sasquatch was announced. And right up at the top, crowded around My Morning Jacket (yawn), Vampire Weekend (yaawn), and Ween (really?), Pavement would finally be within my reach.
Being the ripe old age of 10 when Pavement were at their height (sorry if that made you feel old) I only discovered the band some six or seven years ago, too late to see a show. The band called it quits in 1999. And now a decade later they are playing shows together. Yay! I get to see them now! But, why do I feel this conflict within me?
Is it cool to see a band after they’ve reunited? I get to thinking. Well, I myself saw the Pixies at Coachella, but I wasn’t really there for them, and basically sat around in the polo field listening halfheartedly. But by then, the Pixies had gone from an underground sensation to a sold out festival headlining spot right off the bat.
And others have done the same thing. Mission of Burma were hardly known outside of Boston in the 80’s, but when they returned, everyone had heard of them. Pretty convenient if you ask me. Reuniting right when the next generation has discovered and marketed your old life.
Then I get to thinking, you know there’s really two types of reunions, those that stay relevant, and those that don’t. Dinosaur Jr. and Mission of Burma both came back and released a good number of quality albums. Then you have the other side, like the Pixies, who reunite, but only for a brief moment, reliving (or cashing in on) the glory days and the best of times.
So what? Do I go see Pavement or not? Let’s get to it. And bottom line, courtesy of Mr. Eric Ritz, ” They were never a good live band to begin with!” They were a great album band, every album sounds supreme, and the songs are expertly wrought, but live they turned into a lazy jam band of sorts, just fiddling around, not taking it too seriously. But that’s who they were. And this can be attributed to their scene, to the early 90’s in Stockton, CA.
Guy I know, he grew up in Stockton, saw Stephen Malkmus’ high school band before Pavement, saw them play local clubs. They were deeply in the scene in Stockton, whose defining motto, as this guy put so eloquently, “Fuck everything, man. Fuck school, fuck work, fuck it.” Nice.
At the core of my argument is this. Seeing Pavement today will never be as cool as seeing them fifteen or twenty years ago. Standing at a festival, surrounded by children and yuppies dancing around in their sun glasses at night is not the way to see Pavement. It just wouldn’t be right.
Alas, I will not be seeing Pavement. I don’t want another Mark Kozelek experience just yet**. But I will be seeing the Appleseed Cast playing their albums Low Level Owl Volumes One and Two, back to back in their entirety on Monday. I am seriously stoked. Those albums are amazing, I can’t wait.
So there you go. A lot of my favorite bands, Yo La Tengo, Built to Spill, Flaming Lips, Radiohead, they’ve all been doing it a long time. And I really respect that. If you retire in the NFL, you should stay retired. If you retire, especially if you simply walk away from music, don’t expect me to come crawling back later. I don’t know if I can go through that again.
That’s about it. Oh yeah…
**I saw Mark Kozelek at the Great American for Noise Pop. It was awful. He came out and couldn’t play through most of his songs. He forgot entire verses, and then second verses. He even forgot “All Mixed Up,” probably his most popular song ever. He made everyone get patted down at the door, and demanded that no pictures be taken, not even by IPhone or whatnot. Then he admitted to “rolling out of bed” before coming. He talked shit about Noise Pop at their show that they asked him to play. He even gave away that his fingers were too cold to pluck the strings. Umm, that’s why people “warm up” before a show, asshole. I’ve waited years to see him play, and now I’ll never have to wait again. Cripes.