Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her – confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
My band [redacted] recently got back together for a short set at a special show. We had a wonderful time and sounded better than we remembered. The audiences reaction was overwhelming; people came up to band members and requested/demanded more shows.
It had been a few years since our last show. We had never officially broken up, we just couldn't find the time to get together and practice. Another member had become bored and we all drifted apart amicably. Now this same band member is pushing us to get more shows booked. While I love that idea, I only want to do a few because of other projects I have going. Do we owe it to the people to keep rocking or can we slip gracefully into an early retirement?
Possibly Princess Leia
I bet your other member now relishes those bygone days of playing in a festival headliner-grade band, especially now that he really knows what he had. You sound only marginally annoyed, which is generous of you, as this dude let the cash cow go out to pasture by choice.
The truth is, you don't owe anyone anything. Not the now re-energized member of your band, not the nostalgic fans, not the fans that missed you entirely the first time around. The thing to ask with reunion shows is, “Why are you doing it?” Sating your nostalgia as well as the fans, periodically, is a totally legit reason. Getting back together and rehearsing enough to be awesome for shows only once or twice a year sounds like a pain in the ass, so it's understandable that reunited bands go all in and do a tour. And inevitably, they get swept up and start making records again and that is usually when things go downhill. When they linger.
Since you have moved on, why not agree to some finite time period of engagement – say three or four shows before year's end. If you know in your heart you want to be done, bill them as last shows ever and give people the opportunity to trek out for the occasion. And then be done. Just because every band that has ever existed between 1977-2001 has reanimated (Riot Fest line-ups are proof) and hit the reunion circuit, issued deluxe reissues, rarities comps, vinyl box sets ad nauseam, does not mean you need to default to that mode. You had a great run, why not leave the past in the past?