In 2016, the question about defunct bands reuniting for a show, tour, or new music is less a matter of “if” than “when.” Sure, high profile reunions have been going on for decades, but apart from a few notable holdouts like The Smiths or Hüsker Dü, nearly every finished band with a potential audience finds a way to put aside their differences for another paycheck. Hatchets get buried, coffee shops go under, or restlessness sets in, and bands decide to give it another go.
Given that the paradigm shift over the past decade has all but eliminated record sales as a source of income for recording artists, it’s hard to disparage bands for reuniting and touring to help their livelihood. As streaming makes it easier than ever for fans to discover artists from any era, why shouldn’t those bands be able to capitalize on having an increased audience and earning some profits, however meager they may be, for a renewed interest in their work?
Then again, the frequency of the reunions have been a little ridiculous. It’s easy to get swept up in the nostalgia about seeing great bands from the past, but sometimes that takes away from making new memories with talented young acts of today. Regardless, the fact remains that reunions are everywhere, and if you’re going to a festival or attending a major tour this summer, odds are you’re going to catch at lease one of them. They’re unavoidable.
Because of this, we decided to start keeping tabs on all the reunions taking place this year, measuring how they stack up to one another, from the potentially legendary to the definitively embarrassing. Similar to our festival power rankings, though, there’s plenty of criteria to consider:
01. There’s the amount of time that the band has been broken up, as a band playing their first show in 20 years is clearly more intriguing than one whose last show was in 2011.
02. There’s the length of the reunion, with some bands getting together for just a pair of shows opposed to bands that go on extensive world tours.
03. There’s the prospect of new music. (Although, to be fair, not every reunion should lead to new music.)
04. There’s the type of venue the bands are playing; in other words, do you have to shell out a few hundred bucks for a festival ticket or can you catch the band at a club or theater.
05. There’s the drama surrounding the initial break up. For example, bands who made a big stink about breaking up may get dinged compared to those who simply acknowledged they needed a break.
06. And finally, there’s an excitement factor, as depending on the people or music involved, some reunions are simply more compelling than others.
Based on these factors, we looked al all the major reunions you can catch this summer (some of which have already begun) and ranked them to determine which presents the most grabbing opportunity.
Editor’s Note: The original list actually forgot Ween. We’ve since locked David up for a week.
15. The Dresden Dolls
Who asked for this one again? Over the past few years, Amanda Palmer has been in the news more for her personal controversies than her musical accomplishments, and while she still has plenty of loyal fans, many have grown weary of her antics. Sure, she’s promised that the show will have The Dresden Dolls playing new music, and as tiresome as Palmer has become in recent years, the group did put out some great music during their time together. That said, this is a reunion that few really need.
14. At The Drive-In
Bands get back together all the time without having their complete lineup. It’s not always necessary to have each member present to capture the essence of what made that group great during their prime. However, as we insisted a month ago, having an At The Drive-In reunion without founding member Jim Ward is not the same. Say what you will, but it really is just The Mars Volta playing a bunch of ATDI songs. Even so, it’s only been four years since the band played together with the complete lineup, which makes this latest wave feel even cheaper. Toss in the fact that Ward’s departure happened after tickets were sold should leave a bad taste in every fan’s mouth.
13. Times New Viking
It’s a bit unclear to determine whether this really counts as a reunion, as the Columbus garage rockers never made a firm announcement that they had broken up. They haven’t released an album in five years and haven’t played a show in four, and this summer marks the end of their silence as they take the stage in their hometown for a one-off performance. Some news articles are reporting the show as a “reunion,” so we decided to include it here, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the band didn’t view it through that lens. Since they’ve been dormant for a while, it could count, and hopefully could lead to new music. Either way, it would be a treat to catch this show even if it doesn’t result in anything afterwards.
An indefinite hiatus in 2011 led to a confirmed breakup in 2013, and since then, we’ve heard nothing from the popular emo group. Singer Geoff Rickley has stayed busy in the meantime, releasing albums with the post-punk group No Devotion and the irreverent punk band United Nations. He also was in charge of a record label that folded after controversies around the business practices of a key investor, Martin Skreli, came to light. Recently, the band met for the first time in five years to mend fences, and from that conversation came the opportunity to reunite for a one-off show at Atlanta’s Wrecking Ball. No, they haven’t been gone for that long, but this really does feel like a situation where this may be the band’s only show rather than the start of a second run.
The legendary indie pop band that Dean Wareham founded after the dissolution of Galaxie 500 gained a loyal following throughout the ‘90s before disbanding in 2005. The group reunited last Spring, and has been steadily playing across the world since then, hitting most major cities. They’re about to embark on another seasonal tour to make up for the places they missed last year, and the ensuing novelty of catching them for the first time keeps them in the middle of the ratings.