Should We Feel Bad About '90s Nostalgia? A Few Words In Defense of the Summerland Tour
See also: Throwback Thursday: Everclear
The Gin Blossoms
The announcement of the Summerland Tour (an a la carte delight of prominent '90s soul-patch rock bands Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit,The Gin Blossoms, and Marcy Playground) has me thinking hard about nostalgia. I learned of the tour's Phoenix date, July 3 at Comerica Theatre, just after finishing Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to its Own Past, a book about retro revivals and musical nostalgia by critic Simon Reynolds that came out last September.
I was born in 1987, thus the Summerland Tour is a tempting array of bands that brought about my initial appreciation for music. It also looks like the first of many nostalgia traps aimed to capitalize on my fading adolescent memories. With all of these bands reaching the height of their popularity as I barely became musically cognizant, is it doubly destructive to not only romanticize my past but also spend good money harkening to a period that I don't even consider that crucial?
My relationship with all of these bands began when I was only ten years old through Valley alt-rock stations like The Zone 101.5, who kept up all those radio standards like call-in-and-win ticket contests until its quasi-edgy contemporary format was deemed unprofitable. Make no mistake: some of these bands are plainly lame. Lit, best known for nasally, watered-down SoCal anthem "My Own Worst Enemy," is pretty much indefensible. But I can still get behind some of these bands, even in 2012.
Like any Maricopa County resident who had a pulse in the '90s, I am intimately familiar with the radio hits of the Gin Blossoms. The Blossoms are a Tempe institution that apparently runs much deeper than I thought. Last year, during a punk show at notorious residential Tempe venue YOBS, somebody put on a cassette copy of New Miserable Experience to the sincere delight of a number of attendees I did not have pegged as power pop enthusiasts. It was the kind of reaction I would have expected for Torch of the Mystics, not "Hey Jealousy."
Marcy Playground is of course known best for the lazy come-on "Sex and Candy," but the band released a number of respectable power pop albums below the radar. In the same way I think Archers of Loaf singer Eric Bachmann kind of sounds like Gavin Rosdale from Bush, "Sex and Candy" could vaguely resemble tame Pavement if the indie rock titans were founded in L.A. and never caught a glimpse of any Fall records after graduating from Beverly Hills High. Or maybe I'm just comfortable imagining Stephen Malkmus hypothetically penning shit like "disco lemonade" and "Mama, this surely is a dream."