This article isn't a gripe about the local music scene, which has actually been looking up for a while now, nor is it even about Houston specifically. Instead, it's about all those wonderful reunion tours that continue to pop up, only to avoid certain areas of the United States entirely.
A few weeks ago, my hopes were ignited when I read a headline about the Unicorns reuniting. In that instant, I wanted to do any and everything it took to catch at least one of the dates on their tour.
First, if the Unicorns' name doesn't sound familiar, their music probably would. For anyone who has ever been to a concert at Walters, it's highly likely you've heard the Montreal trio being played as the house music between sets. Additionally, Nick Thorburn went on to form Mister Heavenly with Man Man's Honus Honus and Arrested Development's Michael Cera, as well as Islands with Unicorns bandmate Jamie Thompson; at least the latter will be at Walters Downtown on Sept. 6.
The Unicorns gained cult-like status after the release of their 2003 debut album, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? By mid-2004, they decided to call it quits after headlining at Walter's On Washington on the same night Arcade Fire made their Houston debut. Now, ten years later almost to the day, they've agreed to perform a handful of reunion shows opening for none other than Arcade Fire themselves.
But like many other reunion tours, this one isn't coming to Houston. In fact, Unicorns aren't even visiting Texas at all.
Instead, the band agreed to join Arcade Fire for "limited tour dates," which In the world of art, music and film, is no different than saying "New York and Los Angeles exclusively," with San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston and maybe Philly thrown in sometimes. And sadly, these scenarios aren't new to Texans sitting around with our fingers crossed, begging for the impossible.
So what gives? Why do bands opt for tour dates on the East and West Coast, but never make it down South to indulge the aging fans still wearing out copies of our favorite albums by long-disbanded groups?
While I can't argue the close proximity of the Northeastern states allows bands to hit top markets like New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, I still can't understand how driving across those state lines is any different than hitting stops in Dallas, Austin and Houston, which would also bring in fans from surrounding states.
Sure, Texas is pretty big, but California is bigger. For bands, driving the distance between Austin and Houston is on par with a marathon runner going out for an easy 5K. Hell, in the time it takes to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, bands could get from Houston to New Orleans or Dallas with time to spare.
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Of course there is always the cultural stigma that us Texans have to battle, the one that basically paints the state as some sort of wasteland. Admittedly, it's tough to blame Win and Will Butler for their disdain of suburbia, and Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning album The Suburbs certainly doesn't help clear Texas' name. But we still have a number of cities with active nightlife, colleges within close proximity of major music venues, and popular record stores to help advertise upcoming events or even schedule in-stores.
Neither are the Unicorns to blame for their choice to join this leg of Arcade Fire's tour. It's the kind of opportunity you wouldn't imagine someone passing by, and if it's really something they've reportedly been discussing for years, good for them for choosing to grab life by the balls and play a few sets for old times sake.
That said, most reunion tours of this nature, whether it's post-breakup or a side project that needs some revisiting, continue to exclude the South. This isn't a new trend in music, either. Instead, these announcements pop up in fans' Twitter feeds or inboxes, giving us a giant middle finger as they invite us to daydream about taking off work and throwing down hundreds of dollars for one blissful night of live music. It's almost always worth it, and almost always impossible.
So to all those bands out there who decide to regroup for a few shows, please consider us Southerners. But more specifically, consider Texas. You can still limit your travel like you would on coastal tours, while still getting the chance to hit some major cities that each have their own strengths.
Sure, you might tell us to move to Los Angeles or New York City. But if we're to consider leaving the comfort of home to experience these very limited engagements, would it be so bad to consider including us on a few? It seems we're due for some of these.
Because for now, all Unicorns fans in this part of the world are left with is either a very expensive trip many can't afford or dreaming of a possible future reunion tour that would finally bring the band back into town, possibly even back to Walters. If you live in Texas, which one would you choose?
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