I've been thinking a lot about the recently announced Get Up Kids reunion that is coming down the (Mass) pike in 2009. And while I'm always up to see a killer band from my teenage years one more time, I have to say that I'm not nearly as excited about the whole thing as I thought I would be.
The Get Up Kids were an unbelievably huge influence on me growing up. I first discovered them via a mixtape (tape!) I got from my friend Liz in my sophomore year high school English class in 1997, along with other equally amazing bands such as Braid, Jejune, Jimmy Eat World and Texas Is The Reason. TGUK quickly became one of my favorite bands, yet I somehow went without seeing them until 2001, when they opened for Weezer — nearly two years after their sophomore album, Something To Write Home About, came out. You could tell the band were ready to move onto something different, and they did just that with On A Wire in 2002 (still an incredibly underrated album, even though it has its fair share of stinkers). Regardless, it was exciting to watch the Get Up Kids grow up — they were the first "emo" band to tour in a bus, the first "emo" band to debut on the Billboard Top 200 — what may be commonplace nowadays was once completely forbidden and unknown territory for bands of their ilk, and TGUK did an incredible job blazing the trail and showing just how far you could make it with a DIY ethic and very strong songs.
When the band announced their farewell tour in 2005, it wasn't really all that much of a surprise. The scene had moved onto other things, and the music the Get Up Kids popularized wasn't a huge draw anymore. The band, not even 10 years into their career, had already become a "nostalgia" act. I drove up to Detroit to see one of TGUK's last shows, and while I had a blast, I could definitely tell it was time for them to give up the ghost and explore other things.
This is why this impending reunion tour doesn't sit right with me. The band didn't break up suddenly or fade off into obscurity like some of their early peers — if you were paying any attention at all to the rock underground between 1997 and 2005, you had at the very least heard of the Get Up Kids, even if you hadn't seen them (which also seems slightly impossible, given their tireless touring as well as prime opening slots for Green Day, Weezer and Dashboard Confessional). When they finally rode off into the sunset in '05, it's not like people hadn't been given fair warning, either.
I dunno. All reunion tours, no matter what the band members say, are on some level about cashing in on your legacy. Some bands are more open about that than others (hello, John Lydon), but it's the truth. Sure, many of the bands love cranking out their songs one more time, but there is always a financial reward for doing so, many times greater than what the band were making in the trenches when they were together. But anyway, for some reason, this one just feels a bit too much like a cash-in, and an odd one at that. I haven't noticed an influx of TGUK soundalikes (I wish there were, frankly; one more New Found Glory ripoff band and I'm gonna scream), nor any bigger mainstream band jocking them particularly hard; it just seems like if you really wanted to let your legend grow, you'd wait more than three years.
Will I go watch the Get Up Kids if they come through town next tear? Goddamn right I will, and I'll be singing along as loud as I can, too. But if it were up to me, I'd tell the band to listen to one of my favorite songs by them: "Stay Gone."