It’s a new year, and very soon the music events of 2017 will fade further into the rearview and we’ll be greeted with 2018’s first big releases and announcements. As far as the latter goes, we’re nearing that time where all the big spring and summer festivals begin to unveil their lineups. And if recent years are any indication, we’ll hear from Coachella — still one of the festival pillars here in the States — within the first few days of this year.
Coachella lineups are always the subject of speculation, not only because they’re often bigger and more impressive than what a lot of the competition can pull off, but also because they tend to set the stage for the year — announcing early, letting us know what we can expect from the upcoming barrage of the latest festival season. But they’re also the subject of speculation because of Coachella’s penchant for snagging big-deal reunions.
In recent years, a ton of bands from various decades have come back from the dead. Coachella hosted reunions from Iggy & The Stooges in ’03; Rage Against The Machine, Crowded House, and the Jesus And Mary Chain in ’07; Swervedriver in 2008; Refused and Mazzy Star in 2012; and Guns N’ Roses and LCD Soundsystem in 2016, among others. It’s no wonder that with Beyoncé set as one of this year’s headliners, many fans expect the return of Destiny’s Child. Reunions are pretty good business in an industry where, well, business is not always so great these days.
We’ve also hit a point where it’s easy to ask who exactly is left to reunite. It seems like just about everyone has, including some old classic bands you thought would absolutely never do it. But there are still some names out there, whether some remaining, stubborn old holdouts or newer hiatuses/breakups that are just starting to feel ripe for a reunion. So, ahead of this year’s Coachella announcement, we compiled a list of names we wouldn’t mind seeing on the poster this week. Some are better ideas than others. (Not all reunions are created equally.) Some are more realistic than others. Check them out below, unranked but broken down into categories based on a very scientific reckoning with the actual chances we’ll see these names on a Coachella poster in the near future.
WILL HAPPEN SOMEDAY
As recently as November, Noel Gallagher was saying dismissive things like “[Liam] knows for a fact that Oasis are not getting back together. That gives him immunity to play the victim card to Oasis fans, which I don’t care about.” Ever since the group imploded in 2009, Noel’s written off any reunion talk, while his brother always seems more open to it. Although the chances could seem slim at times, the perpetually tumultuous relationship between the two apparently reached some kind of holiday détente not-so-long after they’d spent their respective 2017 press cycles shitting on each other.
Who knows if that makes a reunion any likelier, but the basic fact is that Oasis’ whole existence was built on contention — it was both what fueled their creativity and sowed the seeds of their destruction. Regardless of the fact that Noel and Liam will probably never get along for too long or that they’ll probably never need the windfall of cash that a reunion would yield, there’s also this: Oasis are one of the few truly big names to have, so far, resisted a big reunion. At some point, the grandiose parts of both Gallagher brothers’ personalities will have to be tempted by that, the chance for a triumphant return run that solidifies their place in the classic rock canon.
The Black Crowes
Another classicist ’90s group driven by brotherly friction, the Black Crowes already fractured and came back together, playing their final show in 2013. It’s hard to imagine that time — and financial incentive — won’t smooth this rupture over, too. And if/when the Black Crowes do return again, they’ll have enough older jams and enough middle-aged road-warrior character to make their reunion a far more compelling and successful option than whatever the Robinsons could get up to individually.
The first cover story we ever did here at Stereogum was on ’00s indie favorites the Walkmen as they were on the cusp of an indefinite hiatus, or a breakup, or something. The terminology and permanence of it depend on which member you talk to. Since late 2013, the individual members of the group have kept pretty busy. Walter Martin and Hamilton Leithauser have both released several albums; Peter Matthew Bauer just unveiled his second; Matt Barrick’s playing drums with Fleet Foxes. Speaking from personal experience, the break seemed rooted more in these guys needing a breather and a chance to spread their wings a little, not any interpersonal strife. Some day they’ll all get together again. And, perhaps like a lower-gear version of what happened with LCD Soundsystem during their absence, the Walkmen could return bigger than ever, reaching toward those festival headlining slots.
A largely overlooked band in the grand scheme of British music from the last few decades, Doves initially flirted with wider success and settled into a groove as the cool kids’ Coldplay during the post-Britpop years of the ’00s. They embarked on a seemingly amicable hiatus in 2010, since exploring other projects. There might not be as much demand for this particular reunion as a few others on the list, but, man, these guys had so many great songs and it’d be a shame if we never got to see them bring them back to the stage and have the chance to convince a whole new era’s worth of listeners that this is a band worth knowing.
Rage Against The Machine
One of those classic situations where it would appear to boil down to wrangling a difficult frontman back into the fold. It happened once, in the ’00s, and those shows were glorious, intense reminders of what always made Rage special. Here’s hoping that, someday, the reclusive Zack De La Rocha abandons (or finally releases) his never-materializing solo album and is tempted to try again, not only to give us all those classic Rage songs in an era of America where we could really use them, but also to lend his voice to new Rage music in an era where, again, we could really use them. Because, seriously — are the rest of these guys really going to do Prophets Of Rage for the rest of their career?
Oasis might be considered the most combustible band of the Britpop era, but consider the Verve, who had already broken up and reunited twice before their third and most recent breakup in the late ’00s. (They played Coachella ten years ago.) The reasons behind it, as ever, seem to be the rest of them having to deal with Richard Ashcroft being an asshole, but it’s doubtful that the third time will remain the charm in terms of the Verve’s demise. Ashcroft needs the Verve, for both financial and creative reasons — his solo stuff can make Chris Martin seem edgy, and the Verve help him bring out his stranger and darker impulses. And it’d be nice to think that the cosmos would force their hand either way: The Verve remain one of the more underrated groups of the ’90s, with a back catalog that deserves to be resurrected and delivered to fans onstage once more.
Yes, this just happened a few years ago. But the shows — the ones I witnessed, at least — were great, and it all came and went too soon, like a tantalizing promise that quickly evaporated. As you can tell from any of André 3000’s semi-frequent guest verses, the man is still as versatile and dizzying as ever, and the prospect of a fuller-fledged OutKast reunion is still something worth hoping for, even as Three Stacks keeps saying things about how rap is a “hobby” for him now and he doesn’t want to be doing it when he’s 50.
Like OutKast, Pulp reunited in recent years for an all-too-brief stint (including Coachella in 2012) that didn’t include any new music. It’s a similarly frustrating situation: Jarvis Cocker is one of the most dynamic and charismatic and incisive frontmen of his generation, and it’s a damn shame that he’s barely released any music in the last eight years. Along the lines of what happened with LCD, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Cocker and Pulp wouldn’t have more to say and do, and if they pulled off one reunion, what’s stopping them from another round?
The National once prayed for Pavement to get back together, and then it actually happened in 2010, for a long but limited run of shows that included Coachella. It was intended as such and didn’t continue, leaving fans wanting more ever since. And chances are it’ll happen again soon, with rumblings of another reunion (specifically tied to their 30th anniversary in 2019) percolating.
My Chemical Romance
For whatever reason, this is one people really want. My Chemical Romance disbanded in 2013 and its members have been happy with other pursuits since. But people are going to keep asking about a reunion — fans were at fever pitch in 2016 when the band teased a big announcement that turned out to be nothing more than a reissue of The Black Parade — and as recently as this past fall, frontman Gerard Way wouldn’t rule it out.
They may all be off reinventing themselves right now, but that only better sets the stage for an inevitable reunion — there’ll be too much money and narrative impact to resist at some point.
YOU CAN IMAGINE A WORLD IN WHICH IT’S POSSIBLE, AT LEAST
Here you have a beloved, iconic group who split amicably during a productive latter-day creative streak. They remain friends. They still reissue and talk about their music and what they accomplished fondly. Naturally, this should all add up to make R.E.M. a surefire reunion, which would be their first since 2008.
Michael Stipe often talks about the three decades of R.E.M. as a completed effort and these days Peter Buck is pretty vocal about hating the music business. These guys will never really need the money, so it’s believable that R.E.M. will never come back. But it’s also believable that they’ll be lured back by that high, that feeling that comes with playing to thousands and thousand of adoring fans around the world.
It could go either way. But a R.E.M. reunion is now one of the biggest ones left to wrangle. And in recent years, it sometimes feels as if R.E.M.’s been half-written out of the narrative, that their massive influence is being brushed over to some extent. No other American band has a catalog like theirs. A reunion might undo the neatness of how they ended it the first time. But a reunion could also remind everyone, and show newcomers, what a special and important band this was.
This is another one that could go either way, and seems to depend on where the winds push each of the band’s members. Jenny Lewis’ solo career is going strong right now, with an album rumored for this year, and back when Rilo Kiley first dissolved, there seemed to be a lot of anger behind it; Blake Sennett cited the “deception, disloyalty, greed” of it all that pushed him away. In the years since, he’s also joined Lewis onstage, who herself has rarely been willing to close the door on the possibility of a Rilo Kiley reunion. The return of the cultishly-beloved group is probably more of a “when” than an “if,” but we’ll see.
The White Stripes
Jack White seems pretty content to plug along in his current lane, which is to say he seems pretty content continuing on with this whole “bluesman as played by late-career Johnny Depp” iteration. And if the idea of playing with Meg White ever arises, he’s usually pretty quick to shut it down. Still, like R.E.M., this is one of the big lingering ones that, at some point, the festivals would kill for. As far as two ex-partners reconciling and working together once more? Well, they were divorced for most of the White Stripes’ initial run anyway, and stranger things have happened in pop history.
On one hand, No Malice and Pusha T have teased this plenty of times over the years, both of them saying they’d love to work together again or that a new Clipse album would conquer the world, etc. On the other hand, they’ve been saying these things on and off for years and nothing’s happened yet. Maybe Pusha’s too busy? Maybe they’re waiting it out for some really nice festival offers? We’ll probably see this someday, the question just remains how far away that someday is.
The Real Smashing Pumpkins
The convoluted history of the Smashing Pumpkins, and it being Billy Corgan vs. it being an actual band, and whether Corgan can just resurrect the name with one other (or no other) key players is … exhausting. But here’s the basic fact: Regardless of how good or not good the classic lineup of the Pumpkins were live vs. the hired guns Corgan acquired this century, that’s the classic lineup. They have a look, an aura, a mythos. A true Pumpkins reunion — Corgan, James Iha, D’arcy Wretzky, and Jimmy Chamberlin — would have weight.
Will it ever happen? Well, god knows Corgan seems a mercurial and difficult person to work with, and god knows this band had their fair share of drama back in the day. There have been reconciliations in the years since, with Corgan, Iha, and Chamberlin playing together in 16 years. As Corgan coyly danced around it in a recent interview — sure, this could happen, but also we’ll believe it when we see it.
It’s hard to imagine what Beyoncé has to gain from this exactly, considering she’s one of the biggest stars on the planet on her own. But there’s also no doubt that a Destiny’s Child reunion, if all the logistics came together, would be a big deal. But according to a TMZ report a few weeks ago, it is not gonna happen. We’ll see soon enough.
Another one that was strongly rumored for 2018, and then Victoria Beckham was out there shooting down those rumors. Given ever-present ’90s nostalgia and the sheer magnitude of the Spice Girls’ success, there’s no doubt that a new reunion (after their last one in the late ’00s) would be massive, and wildly lucrative. It seems to be another case of getting everyone on board.
As Ian MacKaye is fond of saying, Fugazi never really broke up. But they’ve also been absent for about 15 years now, despite reportedly being offered tons of money to return for Coachella in the past. That wasn’t enough to coax them back, but, as many fans have hoped, maybe the Trump era will be.
New Order’s classic lineup
In the 10 years since Peter Hook left New Order, there’s been plenty of bad blood between him and his former bandmates, including lawsuits and contention over the group reforming and recording without him. When I interviewed Gillian Gilbert in September, she deployed some subtle shade by refusing to even name Hook, referring to him simply as “the bassplayer.” Could all that be rectified, or does it need to be? Well, New Order sound pretty good these days, and they’ll play pretty much every classic song you want to hear. But, even so: Hook’s iconic style was a fundamental (and widely influential) cornerstone of both Joy Division and New Order, and there’d be a different kind of resonance seeing Bernard Sumner and Hook back together and playing that music once more.
Ever since the Kinks ended in the mid-’90s, they’ve been one of the classic rock greats that fans still hold out hope of seeing again someday. Of course, these guys were the originals when it came to tumultuous duo of brothers driving, then destroying, the whole endeavor. As recently as last year, Ray Davies said it’d take a “miracle” for them to reunite, but the chances of a Kinks reunion have always oscillated over the years, so maybe that miracle will come together at some point.
This is a hard one to pin down. Odd Future was a decent-sized collective, and a couple members went on to have plenty successful and fruitful careers as solo artists. At times they’ve said they’re broken up, at times they’ve denied it. And in 2015, there was an almost-complete reunion at Tyler, The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw festival that ended with … he and Hodgy Beats taking shots at each other from the stage. It seems that, no matter what, there’d be a lot of factors to work out here, including wooing Earl Sweatshirt back into the fold (he’s also been teasing solo music this year). But they also mostly seem like friends most of the time? There’s a lot of moving pieces here, but perhaps they’ll pull it off someday.
Crosby, Stills, Nash, And Young
Infamously a collective prone to infighting, there are whole decades worth of the saga between David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and occasionally Neil Young. There have been multiple fractures and reunions. There have been times where the group splintered off, one duo being able to handle working with each other but not the other guys. In recent years, the blame seemed to be on notorious crank Crosby, who had managed to piss off both Young and Graham, though it can’t be easy to convince Young of this stuff at any juncture. It’s hard to say whether Graham’s assertion that they should reunite for the good of everyone in the Trump era could really spur a return of CSN&Y, or whether Crosby is just being hopeful when he tweets things like “Never say never.”
Here’s the thing about Desert Trip: They got all the biggest legends of classic rock together, for one event. It was a perfect run from the start, dooming Classic East just a year later to travel down to whatever classic rock tier Journey is on. You know who would be huge at that sort of event? Genesis, either with or without Peter Gabriel. For a while there, with Phil Collins retired from music altogether, this was a long shot. But he’s back, and open to doing something with Genesis, which had sparked 50th anniversary reunion rumors for last year. These guys seem to be on good terms, and the prospect of hearing all those big Genesis hits live again is a tantalizing one.
THERE’S NO CHANCE
Can you imagine how incredible and gigantic a Talking Heads reunion would be? There’s the fact that David Byrne is still a vital artist who can still sing the hell out of his classic songs. There’s the fact that there are multiple generations of fans, at this point, who never got a chance to see Talking Heads. It’s one that feels like it could be revelatory, not a concession to nostalgia. Yet Byrne has held out this long, firmly, and given his own plans for 2018 (including a solo album and tour), it appears he has no intention of looking back anytime soon. As far as reunions go, this is one of the big white whales. The money they must’ve been offered already is probably insane. If that wasn’t enough, what will be?
Do I really have to explain this one? At least in the indie sphere, this seems to be the reunion discussed the most, the one that the band’s fans care so, so deeply about it that they’ll delude themselves for decades. The Smiths had an acrimonious split, have sued each other, have spent years sniping each other in the press. And, let’s say you could iron all that out with a normal group of four grown men. That’s difficult enough, undoing decades of animosity for some common goal. And then one of those men is Morrissey. Good fucking luck.
You can’t even get Lauryn Hill to show up at her own gigs.
Perhaps a more niche ’80s concern than the Smiths or Talking Heads, but there are a lot of people who would welcome a XTC reunion. Problem is that XTC haven’t played live since Andy Partridge’s nervous breakdown onstage in 1982, and the divide between Partridge and Colin Moulding seems … severe. Since 2006, any time it’s come up, one member or another draws a line in the sand. Their bluntness feels more final than when most other bands say it.
The Beach Boys
This is a complicated one for a book’s worth of reasons, the Beach Boys having a long and tangled history full of upheaval that’s up there with the most combative and complicated of any group in pop history. One issue here is that you’re mostly talking about a reunion based on Brian Wilson and Mike Love sharing the stage, which did happen in 2012 for the band’s 50th anniversary. Love, of course, had his issues with how that went down. And, really, who would want to make a big thing out of getting back together with Love’s cynical, propped-up nostalgia touring act at this point?
Never say never, maybe. When I spoke to former Cocteau Twins member Simon Raymonde in November, he talked about an ill-fated attempt to get the trio back together for Coachella in 2006. So while they’ve at least approached it before, Raymonde’s account also highlighted the implausibility of it ever working in the future: There’s too much baggage, too much to untangle, and none of it is worth even great sums of money. Still, for all of us who missed out on the Cocteaus back then, the idea of hearing “Heaven Or Las Vegas” gliding out over a festival’s desert field at sunset is too surreal and beautiful an image to not hope for someday.
Since 2016, ABBA have been teasing … some kind of virtual reality reunion in which the four of them will not actually be onstage. Otherwise over the years, they’ve usually dismissed the concept of ABBA coming back together in any sort of performing or recording form. So, maybe you’ll get an ABBA reunion involving holograms. But with each year it seems less and less likely that those four people will stand on stage and perform a whole tour together.
It’s happened before. Led Zeppelin had to end after John Bonham’s death, but there have been semi-reunions over the years, usually for very unique occasions. The rumors that it’ll happen again never cease. This time, they say, it’ll be a full tour. A larger scale. They’ll finally give the people what they want, and headline everything, and conquer the world all over again.
Whenever this talk bubbles up — and it does, a lot — I go back to a quote from a 2014 Robert Plant interview, in which he brings up why the Eagles reunited even when it was supposed to take hell freezing over: “It’s not because they were paid a fortune. It’s not about the money. It’s because they’re bored. I’m not bored.” That’s Robert Plant, a walking rock legend, harshly denying any plans to reunite some version of Led Zeppelin. It’s not about old wounds, or hating the other guys, or needing or not needing the money. He is just definitively, harshly uninterested. And, after all these years, what would change his mind?