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Reunion Acts: Second Verse, Same as the First

Where's that demand coming from? Part of it is from folks who were around the first time not so much feeling nostalgic as they are feeling communal with the bands of their youth. Kids who grew up on punk and hardcore are now parents watching documentaries about Vinnie Stigma from Agnostic Front and Fat Mike from NOFX raising kids of their own.

Another element comes from Pandora (P), Spotify, Rdio and Apple's (AAPL) Genius function on iTunes acting as cool aunts, uncles or older siblings and throwing these bands into the mix of listeners whose tastes fit their profile. Yet another is a changing music landscape that sent vinyl album sales soaring nearly 18% last year, outpacing the growth of digital track sales (5.1%) and digital album sales (14%), according to Nielsen (NLSN) Soundscan.

There's a renewed reverence for the pre-digital and for the tangible but perhaps more important, there's a respect for the lineage of music. It's why Adele draws a direct line between herself and Dusty Springfield. It's why Jay-Z and Kanye West throw it back to Otis Redding. It's why, in 2013, a new David Bowie album is still a really big deal.

It's a desire to be part of what you weren't around to experience the first time. It's about acknowledging the greatness of the past while crushing generational tyranny in the present. It's about never letting some old guy with gray hair tell you "you should have seen them when" or "they'll never be the way they were." TheStreet's Carlton Wilkinson says such reunions have "a living-fossil quality." That makes them dinosaurs. People throw that term at musicians in the pejorative all the time, indicating they're past their prime and completely irrelevant.

But you know what? Everybody wants to see a dinosaur. The Museum of Natural History in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago are packed with people gawking at fossils far less alive than either Henry Rollins-deprived incarnation of Black Flag touring this summer. The Jurassic Park films are getting their fourth installment next year. Why? Because people love a giant, towering, snarling, badass thing bigger than any living creature they can imagine.

A comment beneath an article about indie rock reunions on The Onion's A.V. Club site summed up the appeal of these kind of largely anticipated, small-act reunions better than even the article above it could:

"I was born in 1985, and I've been able to see Devo, Gang of Four, PiL, The Raincoats, Echo and the Bunnymen, Mission of Burma, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tears For Fears, My Bloody Valentine, OMD, The Breeders and Leonard Cohen play in my lifetime.

"I am all for these reunions."

While Tears For Fears may not fit the indie label and Leonard Cohen might take great amusement from being thrown into such company, the point's still well taken. If the bands and the performers people care enough to rave about and compile the back catalogs of still care enough to drag themselves out on the road, why wouldn't you see them?

Lamenting everybody's collective aging and clinging to memories and associations that fade with each passing year has a more detached, tortured, unquestionably indie vibe to it. But these reunions should serve as a reminder of why fans fell in love with these artists in the first place, why the generations that followed are just as excited to see them and why they shouldn't just be enjoyed in their prime, but for as long as they're around for fans to enjoy them.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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