This May, the Skate and Surf festival (revived last year after eight years) will play host to a few high profile reunions. Fans will see the nine-year-defunct pop-punk group Midtown alongside Hidden in Plain View and an Anthony Green-fronted Saosin. Back in 2003 all three groups were hot on the heels of their biggest releases to date. Saosin’s Translating the Name EP grabbed listeners with Green’s vocal acrobatics, Hidden In Plain View’s self-titled EP was leading to a debut album on Drive-Thru, and Midtown’s Mark Trombino-produced Living Well Is the Best Revenge had garnered major label support from MCA. While these three bands weren’t the biggest names in alternative music at the time, but there’s no denying that these releases had a hand in laying the framework for many of the releases that have gone on to define the genre.
So the big question seems to be: what is the significance of these reunions? None of the three have indicated that they’ll be releasing new music in these collaborations – and after all, bands of a similar era have been reuniting left and right recently after many years apart. What’s particularly unique about the bill at Skate and Surf is the context surrounding the weekend. Back in the early 2000s the festival was kind of an all-in-one-place emo/punk/skateboarding meet up that quickly got inhabited by the scene’s exploding fanbase and rebranded as the Bamboozle after a couple of years. Then as the popular crash created by Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and the like faded, the Bamboozle splintered into a roadshow, a west coast edition and a more diverse bill, eventually leading to the founder John D’Esposito splitting from the event.
While the Bamboozle was clearly an influential and important even throughout its existence, the pre-MTV boom years of Skate and Surf existed in a different time period than that which the 2014 iteration will. Now many of the bands that brought national attention to the genre are retiring or straying into different styles. It’s clear that Midtown, Saosin and Hidden In Plain View’s performances won’t be glossed with the “who’s next?” sheen that they would ten years ago. The world of pop music has heard similar sounds come up from the underground, acknowledged them, and moved on to new interests. Now the reunited bands at Skate and Surf are playing not to be the ones who will be noticed, but to acknowledge what existed and to add new chapters to their on-hold careers.
As with all reunions some detractors may assume that the decision to reunite is economically focused – but there’s a much more romantic and fulfilling explanation for what will happen at this year’s Skate and Surf: to celebrate what the moments 10 years ago became. With the pressure, the politics and the label seeking expired, the power of the moments in time are free to take center stage. To be sure there won’t be the same giddy excitement – the feeling of a movement on the brink – but a look backwards can be an equally important part of the process of existence. So when each band takes the stage at Skate and Surf, the time will come to observe the weight of releases like Living Well & at songs like “The Chaser” and to appreciate the structure that they helped to create. At the recently revitalized Skate and Surf there is much reflecting to do on the marks that bands like Midtown, Saosin and Hidden In Plain View left.