At the Drive-In reunited earlier this year - they were a band that I never got to see. ATDI broke up in 2001 when they were on top of the world, often touted as the new anointed saviors of punk rock (or something along those lines). At that point, I was merely 11 years old; not to mention, I was probably listening to something like Smashmouth. But the first time someone showed me Relationship of Command, ATDI's overwhelmingly influential major label release, I couldn't begin to fathom what I was hearing. To put it in perspective, this was before the dawn of YouTube. Without actually seeing ATDI's performance, I could literally hear the raw emotion that came in waves from crazed frontman Cedric Bixler. It became something to strive towards and I spent many moments writhing in front of an audience in homage to Bixler's stage presence.
When YouTube started growing, more gems from the early 2000's began to appear. I was finally able to see the overwhelming energy of an At the Drive-In performance. One particular performance on Jools Holland saw guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez break several strings on the opening chords of "One Armed Scissor" and just continue to play anyways (see YouTube). He didn't care. Chairs were thrown, guitars were hurled across the room, and band members danced and rolled around and leapt off of anything in sight. The performance sounded like garbage, but it didn't matter. It was the most incredible performance I had ever seen. It still blows my mind to this day.
Granted these men are now pushing 40, and to be honest, I'm not sure I could launch myself around as acrobatically as Bixler... ever. But there was definitely something more to this reunion. At the Drive-In has been frank that the reason they reunited was for two reasons: "nostalgia" and "money." I am by no means criticizing these men for reuniting for the allure of money (and who doesn't like a healthy dose of nostalgia?). In fact, I respect them even more for being so frank about it. In their shoes, I would have done the exact same thing. Whether or not they are still whipping themselves around the stage, they are putting on an incredible show that is startlingly accurate to their studio recordings.
Another band that reunited within the last few years is Pavement. Pavement was also before my time, gone even before ATDI. I was also one of the unlucky souls who had to miss out on their supposedly one-time reunion. I might be mad at myself for missing my only opportunity to see Pavement, but I'm not going to side with Billy Corgan and accuse them of being sell-outs for cashing in on an opportunity. Stephen Malkmus said it himself - "If the band likes hearing people cheer, and getting a check, as is the case with us, then it usually ends up working out, even if they're just ham-and-egging out the same old chords."
This isn't a surprise. Malkmus also said it bluntly 20 years ago in Pavement's flirt with the mainstream, "Cut Your Hair." He simply sings, "Songs mean a lot when songs are bought, and so are you." I'm not even offended, he called it like he saw it.
Either way, this seems to be the case with any band that has been gone long enough to reunite. Many bands that released "influential" albums in the early 2000's are now hitting the 10-year-anniversary reunion circuit. At the end of the day, these bands have moved on with their lives and their art. Many of the band members now have families and children, and perhaps even real jobs. When it comes down to it, a reunion of any sort is a very generous gesture, money grab or not.