Over the past two or so years, the “scene” (or whatever you want to call it) has been graced with reunions by several of its most beloved bands. Whether or not you accept the theory that Blink-182 got back together due to the looming threat of the world’s end in 2012, you know you were one of those kids crashing websites with OMG-worthy posts way back in February 2009. And even if you weren’t a fan of Blink (like me), I’m sure you got your own thrill when news broke of the return of bands such as Yellowcard, The Get Up Kids, The Starting Line or countless others to the stage in the past year or so. I know that I almost fainted when I found out that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper were returning to Taking Back Sunday (which I definitely count as a reunion). However, while these notions of excitement and nostalgia may be fun at first, they can quickly dissolve when the band or fan in question takes all of the wrong choices after they reunite. The return to music for beloved bands should be executed very delicately, or the results can be catastrophic.
First and foremost, I believe that the term “reunion” should not be used unless the band intends to make new music. Bands who embark on “reunion tours” or “reunion shows” only to break up again right after give the fans false hope, and the term “reunion” should be avoided if the change is not permanent, in my opinion. Unfortunately, it is understood that this is not always an easy feat. If a band wants to play one show for their fans and leave it at that, no one is going to stop them (The Movielife). However, it should be made very clear that this is a one-time thing, and that the “indefinite hiatus” or whatever still continues.
In addition, if a promise of new music in the near future is made at the time of the reunion announcement, it should be followed through. I felt Blink-182 made a big mistake in announcing new music too soon, as it left fans in a “what the heck” state for two whole years while waiting for the single “Up All Night,” which was just released a few weeks ago. Although, I do believe the anticipation/hype factor in the delay helped them quite a bit. Other bands released music in a good amount of time, but it was so different than the original material that it confused listeners. I believe this fate befell The Get Up Kids, whose new album alienated fans, even if some (including myself) thought it was quite a step up.
However, I believe that many recent reunions have been carried out beautifully, some with new albums and tours within two months of the official announcement. Yellowcard take home the gold medal, in my opinion, with news of a full tour and the name and release date of a magnificent new album being the official announcement of the band’s return. They left enough time for hype, but not too much so as to avoid disappointing fans. Taking Back Sunday left about a year between announcement and album, but left songs or snippets of songs in consistent intervals in between, never disappearing or leaving the fan wondering what happened to them while they were in the studio.
While a band can definitely make a few major missteps when reuniting, it is ultimately the listener’s mindset that determines whether they enjoy what is to come. Some cannot help but expect Tell All Your Friends Part Two or Something To Write Home About: The Sequel, and this expectation is fatal. After five or seven years away, the fan cannot expect the same songs again, and they cannot expect the band members to have stayed exactly the same, bottling up all the sadness and rage from every girl they lost during the hiatus for these songs specifically. Maturation is inevitable. Expecting something better is smart, but expecting a clone is just dumb.
And so it is a dangerous tightrope that bands and fans alike must walk when it comes to reunions. One wrong step and it could mean heartbreak. However, the other side of that tightrope is a very enjoyable place to be, if only we can all get there without falling to the ground, where the hiatus may continue. And that is not something we want to happen. We all hope for the best when our favorites come back, and with my favorite band The Early November playing two shows this Fall, I can’t help but get my hopes up. But I must do so with caution.