It’s safe to say that many of us, now in our mid to late twenties, have gone to at least one 10 year anniversary show. All of our favorite records of yesteryear are being brought to a city near us, and we pile into crowds of all ages to hear these records from front to back. It is a concept made popular in the end of the last decade as some bands began honoring their early works and fan-favorites with such shows. With the onslaught of anniversary tours announced each year, one might wonder if it’s all about nostalgia, or if some bands and record labels are simply cashing in on our inability to let go of the things we love.
One of the first anniversary tours I attended was Dashboard Confessional’s tour honoring The Swiss Army Romance. I couldn't turn down seeing one of my favorite albums performed the way it was intended to be heard. Not every anniversary show has worked out quite as well, though. Seeing the original lineup of Taking Back Sunday performing all of Tell All Your Friends, a definitive album in my teenage years, could never have met my high expectations. In that case, the show was too big and impersonal. This is selfish, of course, but many of us are selfish about our favorites. Soon enough, the tours became too grand, and also a bit pricey. To hear old favorites live for the first time has consistently been worth it, but at times it’s hard to tell if the band's heart is really in it. Reliving the past might not be at the front of their creative minds, but the certainty of sold-out shows might just be too alluring.
Not only did the trend grow, but it also became a catalyst for long-gone bands to return from the grave. Bands that drifted into obscurity reunited for anniversary tours – some who previously turned down constant requests to do so. It’s possible that some have just been brought back by the state of the scene and its new and old fans alike. Most band reunions have been guaranteed sellout shows, and who could blame us for wanting to see them?
Then there’s the vinyl boom. Suddenly everything new is pressed on wax.Though some bands and labels never stopped making vinyl, now everyone is doing it. Along with the anniversary tour comes the special limited anniversary pressing of the album, and now you’re dropping another $30 along with your $30 show ticket. Am I going to just not buy Through Being Cool or Clarity? No. I need them. And you can bet that someone somewhere is waiting to repress Deja Entendu for retirement pay.
Personally, I think some labels release old records on vinyl purely for the profits. In the case of Straylight Run’s self-titled debut, released on vinyl for the first time on Record Store Day 2012, the band didn't even know it was coming out, and reportedly received no copies of their own. And maybe it’s just my copy, but I don’t think the pressing quality was where the money went...
In a way, these anniversaries are a reminder of the stretch of the music scene. To be in a sold-out crowd that varies greatly in age and to have everyone in the room singing along to the same ten-year-old songs is something magical. When you realize how many people have been changed by the same bands, and the fact that we’re all still here after all these years, you remember why this all grabbed you in the first place. These are our memories and our humble beginnings. You’ll see me at the 30th anniversary shows – if the band shows up then so will I.