The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


May 18, 2012

Jeremiah Tucker: ’90s bands now packaging themselves for tours

JOPLIN, Mo. — For a couple years the fashions and trends of the ’90s  have made a remarkable, if unsurprising, resurgence.

Obviously, there’s an argument to be made that 99 percent of American popular culture at this point is just a perennial reheating of the past, and the Internet has, rather than inspiring new, imaginative content, simply allowed us more ways to wallow in our nostalgia for stuff that was never as good as we actually remember.

I’ll admit I’m a little susceptible to this argument.

One only has to look at the current box office where every new movie appears to be either a sequel, reboot or film adaptation of a proven franchise to see Hollywood’s not exactly in love with fresh, commercially unproven content. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s been a better time to own a TV or a computing device capable of streaming content made for TV. So many great, original, well-written programs out there right now.

That said, the Summerland Tour will arrive in Tulsa, Okla. July 8, bringing Everclear, Lit, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms and Marcy Playground to the stage at the SpiritBank Event Center. And this has to mean something!

I think every ’90s band on the planet with more than five fans is touring, has recently toured or is musing the possibility of touring. I’m not complaining. I loved seeing two of my favorite bands, Pavement and Pulp, on their respective laudatory reunion laps. But I think this is the first time we’ve been confronted with the ’90s  oldies package tour.

(Somewhere Smash Mouth is surely cursing Art Alexakis, lead singer for Everclear and organizer of the Summerland tour, for not calling them.)

I tend to think humankind is a relatively static species, and our capacity for nostalgia, or any other vice, remains constant. If the Internet’s changed anything, it’s that data miners can more easily exploit us or, to use softer language, market to us.

The Facebook fan page for Marcy’s Playground’s 1997 single “Sex and Candy” has 2,413 likes. That’s 2,408 more fans of that song than I would’ve guessed existed today, and that kind of data has to be useful when predicting the financial viability of a tour like Summerland.

I do worry what the tipping point is here, though. A realistic Tupac Shakur hologram performed at Coachella with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, a hologram of the deceased Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes will go on tour with a reunited TLC this summer and this week it was announced a Freddy Mercury “optical illusion” would perform with Queen in London.  These are wondrous times, truly, but if our nostalgia isn’t even constrained by the physical inevitability of death itself, at what point do we even bother wanting something new?

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