Perhaps realizing that breaking new artists in the music-stuffed, nostalgia-mired world of now was impossible, many a band that made their mark on the world back in the 1990s got back on their collective horses and rode the wave of “remember when?” this year, from Stone Temple Pilots to My Bloody Valentine to Ben Folds Five to even Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. As you might expect, results were mixed overall, although they were probably better than those that would be realized by any new endeavors by the parties involved.
Thanks to missing the My Bloody Valentine gigs in the States, most of my ’90s nostalgia jones was satisfied at Coachella, where I saw the Breeders, the Verve, Portishead, and Swervedriver; all of them put on wholly satisfying sets, and were received warmly by the crowds. Still, there’s something sort of sad and grinding-to-a-halt about all of these reunions coming at this point in time; on the one hand, the rest of Coachella’s bill was full of acts that would probably be as ephemeral today as the Primitive Radio Gods were back then, but on the other hand, what would happen if those acts broke beyond the world of blogs and into some sort of Alternative Nation mass-dissemination that doesn’t really exist anymore? Would we be spending time on a 2018 year-end countdown discussing the glut of reunions from The Hype Machine Era?
Either way, the decimated prominence of the music business and the ever-diminishing likelihood that an album could sell enough to actually break even a not-all-that-new artist resulted in quite a few bands hitting the nostalgia circuit while the VH1 clip show iron was still hot. And what with there being a dearth of rock bands who can reliably sell out a shed right now, and concert promoters being more skittish than ever about the ever-fragmenting pop landscape, there’s even more to come in ’09, when we’ve got “we’re back” shows by the likes of Blur and Phish and No Doubt to look forward to. Not to mention the ever-tantalizing possibility of Scott Stapp and Creed drinking from the twice-removed-grunge well once again! See you at Bonnaroo, everybody!