The '90s Nostalgia Rock Tour: Awesome or Lazy?

| Mon Aug. 8, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Weezer's Rivers Cuomo

Last year, beloved geek-rock band Weezer hit the road with a "Memories Tour," playing The Blue Album (1994) and Pinkerton (1996) in their entirety over two nights. Front man Rivers Cuomo told MTV that the tour was an "emotional, cathartic experience" and that "to see 5,500 people singing along to every last word through every song on the album, even the really difficult ones, was incredibly validating for me."

Similarly, in 2005 the Lemonheads regrouped after a nine-year hiatus and are now touring exclusively to the tunes of their 19-year-old It's A Shame About Ray. Likewise, after a 12-year breakup, the Pixies reunited in 2004, and have spent parts of the past two years on the road celebrating their 1989 release, Doolittle, by playing the 15-song album in its entirety. All of these bands are selling out shows. But are they also, well, selling out?

The answer lies somewhere between rock and a hard place. There's a reason why certain albums are described as timeless. (Not gonna lie—just reading reviews of the Memories Tour made me want to break out The Blue Album, and I haven’t listened to Weezer in years. Say it ain't so, whoa-oh!) It's not unusual for touring bands to focus on the hits that made them legendary, and indeed, if one is going to have a decades-long career, it's practically a necessity to revert to the classics from time to time. But a time-travel tour also feels a bit like the band has given up, or that they've become, as MoJo editor Mike Mechanic puts it, "the antithesis of RAWK."

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