Rather be forgotten, than remembered for giving in
Summer Holidays vs. Punk Routine (Refused)

The concept of band reunions has always been difficult for me. What purpose could it ever serve other then to bring a false experience to listeners who came too late? Does anyone at this year’s Zeppelin reunion believe the experience holds any relation to the band’s creative period? Reunion shows are like museums, looking at the remains of something that was once great. Yet throughout the normally unforgiving message boards and the blogosphere we hear no critique of Refused reuniting.

Back in the mid 90s Refused were an average hardcore band, that used an average amount of experimentation in their sound, and produced a vaguely left wing message that was typical for a band of the genre at that time. Nearing the end of the 90s the band released their greatest album and then broke up shortly after. A lot of the politics from this album were reminiscent of anti-parent culture Hegelian dialect coming from the Nation of Ulysses. Refused focused more on the situationist elements, ignoring the comedic/fun parts of Svenonius’s style.

When we view their recent reunion shows in situationist terms their actions are a farce. They are just taking the experience and nostalgia of their long gone basement shows and selling it back as a mass market product. There’s something fishy about middle aged punks, touring the world, selling out shows, whilst singing about the totality and barbarity of capitalism. The audience consumes the politics they paid for, denied any kind of political action that the lyrics call for. It’s all a politics of gestures, not participation (much of what passes for political today is just gesture).

This leads to the question of what should shows be? I think this issue has a lot of confusion surrounding it. Why do we attend concerts in the first place? I can’t speak for all, but personally my favourite shows have been of bands just as they are beginning. When they only have a release or two out for public consumption. At this point the band is something to be experienced, not bought. These shows had kids pilled in to legion halls, the music was met with their bodies erupting in chaos, the night was ended with a trip back to the banality everyday life.

I think that seeing the modern incarnation of Refused would ruin my imagination of what they were in their prime. The show that will change your perception of everything cannot be orchestrated, planned, and marketed to you. You need to find it for yourself. In the end I suppose this all very normal, and no different then any other band trading in their message for a day job.