With the new year slowly coming into full swing, the lineups for this year’s biggest music festivals will eventually be announced. You know what’s coming up: festival season! Before you know it, you’ll be deciding which festivals are worthy of your dollars. Hopefully, there will be at least one festival that lures you out of your home, makes you shell out a two paychecks, puts some serious mileage on your car, and causes you to face near-dehydration under the summer sun, all in the celebration of sharing a special outdoor musical experience with thousands of like-minded music fanatics. I’ll admit, I’m not too stoked on attending festivals (too draining, too dirty, too expensive), but there’s no doubt that the upcoming lineups of Bonnaroo, Ozzfest, Warped Tour, Mayhem, and Download will be enticing and buzz worthy.
This week, we were treated to the lineup of the first major rock and alternative festival of the year: the Coachella Music Festival
in Indio, California. Will you be going to Coachella? If you can afford the near $300 ticket price and feel like travelling far into the California desert, you can expect to feast your eyes and ears on an eclectic mix of rock, alternative, folk and electronic acts... You damn hipster, you.
I’m joking of course, but normally, I think Coachella sounds quite lame, like a dense collection of weird alternative hip hop groups that I’m apparently not hip enough to have heard of. This year’s lineup, however, doesn’t look that bad. I’d definitely check out The Black Keys, Refused, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, The Shins, Feist, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (why not?), At The Drive-In, DJ Shadow (check out his first record "...Entroducing"), Beirut... and that’s about it. If it were just those acts, that wouldn’t be a bad show, but I can’t justify sitting though dozens of 25-minute sets from boring indie folk bands…all under the scorching sun and sandwiched between under-showered college sophomores.
I suppose Coachella can’t be that bad, right? There’s gotta be some merit there. Clearly, the festival has become increasingly popular over the past several years; tickets sell out quickly, while high profile and important bands always end up headlining the event. More importantly, this year, several bands are reuniting to perform for the festival, which is now spanning over two weekends.
While these reunions – At The Drive-In and Refused – are stirring up some chatter, I’m wondering, like the festival itself, if the reunions are as worth it as they sound. In general, are reunions better in theory than in practice? So this week, I’d like to figure out why these bands who used to hate each other have decided to solidify for the arguably overrated Coachella and if the reunions will live up to our expectations.
Two Awesome Bands At A So-So Festival
At The Drive-In And Refused Reunite!
Although I can’t say that I’m a lifelong hardcore fan, after hearing the reunion news, I’m starting to gain a new respect for At the Drive-In and Refused. Since hearing of the reunions, I decided to check out "Relationship Of Command" and "The Shape Of Punk To Come", the seminal albums of ATDI and Refused respectively, and damn, those are some fine records! There’s something about the rawness of the music that’s inspiring and exciting, and although I’m traditionally a metalhead who usually gravitates toward tight and precise guitar riffs, I’m digging the looseness, heaviness and intensity of these two bands. Whether or not there’s musical brilliance happening on these records, you can’t deny the rawness and creative expression of these groups. Essentially, these bands are enjoyable and bada-s.
What I find particularly interesting about these reunions are the similarities regarding both bands’ breakups and legacies. Both At The Drive-In and Refused became extremely influential to future post-hardcore bands; both bands split up at high points in their careers at a relatively young age, making the breakups seem premature; both bands had contentious breakups (ATDI against themselves, separating into The Mars Volta and Sparta, and Refused against the world).
So why get together all of a sudden? It does seem a little coincidental that bands with such similarities would reunite at this particular festival. Maybe the Coachella Festival has an intense gravitational sway on the alignment of the stars, which brought these bands back together. Either that, or the organization has extremely deep pockets and offered the bands irresistible paydays. But from the explanations presented Refused, for instance, it seems that in the 10+ years since they’ve broken up, personal drama seems irrelevant and the music they made deserves to be played again. These bands have unfinished business and many fans are beyond excited to see them live.
I can see some skepticism surrounding the motives for reunion, mainly the pegging of money as the magnet that brings these bands together. However, I’d like to think that bands like ATDI and Refused, who more or less lived by true punk ideals, wouldn’t make a decision like this based purely on money. I’m sure money is present, but I doubt it’s the sole reason. It’s probably time for them to rediscover the music they made when they were in their twenties - a time of idealism and discovery where they wrote, recorded and performed the powerful music that spoke to many people.
So we’ll see – well, Coachella attendees will see – how the reunion performances go. Based on what has been said about these groups, they’ll deliver electrifying performances. But hell, I’m probably not going to Coachella, so I’ll just enjoy the records for now.
Sabbath Could Have Made Coachella Amazing
It looks like, apparently, another reuniting band was set to headline at Coachella, one which would have absolutely eclipsed Refused and ATDI, and that’s Black motherf--cking Sabbath, the creators of a genre known as heavy metal. Honestly, if Sabbath actually headlined Coachella on top of the other groups I mentioned, I’d definitely fork up the $300 to go.
Although it wasn’t officially announced, the group apparently had to pull out of the festival due to Tony Iommi’s recent diagnosis of lymphoma. I’m sure all of you would agree that this is an insanely huge bummer. Honestly, how much would it suck if Tony Iommi passes away from lymphoma and the Sabbath reunion never materializes? However, in times of bleak situations, let’s share Larry David’s naïve belief in "good Hodgkins" lymphoma. Let’s just say, for now, Toni has good Hodgkins.
But the Sabbath reunion sure sounds amazing. Unlike ATDI and Refused, Sabbath has an entirely different career that makes the reunion way more significant. Because of the band’s different eras with different members the reunion becomes less about hearing the music played live again, rather it becomes something historical.
I suppose the reconciliation factor is also apparent here. As fans, sometimes it’s hard to understand why bands don’t work out or why they split up. Because, after all, it’s the music that is important to us. So when a band decides to reunite, the fans feel all warm and gooey inside because they feel important; the band loves them enough to put aside their differences and take the stage. It’s a compliment to the fans, and the fans give the love back by seeing them live and buying the records. It’s a feel good, win-win situation. At least in theory.
So what’s to come of these reunions? Only time will tell and those in attendance will be able to attest to the quality. Maybe ATDI will give a lackluster performance and their legacy will be slightly diminished. Or maybe they’ll tear each hipster at Coachella a brand new posterior orifice. The reunions alone won’t make or break the concert; they only make up a small part of the festival as a whole, so it probably won’t be 100% amazing, but there will certainly be some cool aspects to it.
That’s it for now. If you want to listen to a great record this weekend, I highly suggest At The Drive-In’s "Relationship Of Command". Killer record, intense, surprisingly melodic, and catchy. Great stuff. See you guys next week.
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
Tony Iommi decides that if he could design himself fingertips after severing two of his fingers, he can make himself a new immune system, one that is made entirely out of metal.
After stating that the music industry needs more artists like Adele, Dave Grohl adds that he forgot to mention how the industry also needs more artists like Weird Al as well.
Eddie Van Halen, who donated 75 of his guitars to several public schools, unsuccessfully tries to donate a few basses; the school refuses them, claiming nobody really wants to play bass.
By Zach Pino