Live music has been shut down indefinitely. We’re not quite sure how the industry will recover or what the mood will be like when shows resume. But this lengthy period of social distancing has made us realize how important live music is to our lives. We’re so desperate to see a band play that we’d start foaming at the mouth when presented with the chance to overpay for beer and watch literally the worst dad rock covers band in history. Because of this unusual live events hiatus, we thought we’d take the opportunity to create the most insane band reunion wishlist possible—obscure bands and mainstream giants, groups whose last incarnation was recent or more distant and even the most unrealistic reunions around.
There are some obvious names missing here, but for good reason. Two of the Beatles are dead, a Beach Boys reunion wouldn’t be the same as it once was and not very many people want Morrissey to reform The Smiths after all his problematic tirades. If our best hope for a satisfying reunion requires some dramatic, futuristic de-aging process or the literal resurrection of a member, we excluded those groups. Band reunions can be a waste of time—often nothing more than a desperate cash grab in the form of a live tour or an unfortunately obvious display of a group way past their prime—but other times, bands are able to use the occasion to continue making meaningful records, tour places they’ve never been before or finally receive the praise they were denied during their initial stint.
So here, Paste ponders—perhaps a little selfishly (but we’re sad right now, so let us dream)—which bands we’d most want to trot back on stage when all this chaos is over. These groups (listed alphabetically) probably won’t bring the world together via some “We Are The World” fantasy, but they would certainly bring us and their other fans joy. Fingers crossed that we get at least one of these to happen in 2020 and that you find a band you love listed here.
The prospect of an ABBA reunion has been discussed for years. With all four original members still alive and well, it’s a bit frustrating that this hasn’t happened yet, especially considering the global success of Mamma Mia!, the widely-adored musical and film series based on their songs, which has helped them stay relevant, along with their music’s relentless appearances in weddings and karaoke bars. However, there is a heartening development—the Swedish pop behemoths returned to the studio for the first time in over three decades to record new songs. Recently, Benny Andersson said new music was likely on the way “this year,” and most likely “after the summer.” This wouldn’t be the first time the band teased new music in the last few years, but we’re hoping this time, it’s for real. There was also talk of a hologram tour, but it has since been delayed. We sincerely hope that after this new music arrives, we can see “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper” performed in the flesh and not just via lasers. —Lizzie Manno
If Elizabeth Fraser decides to team up with Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde again, we will gladly slip into a fever dream and grow a poofy ’80s moptop à la Jim and William Reid. Fraser has been relatively quiet in her post-Cocteau Twins career, apart from a few appearances here and there, but we’d love to hear her mystify audiences once again with her otherworldly dream pop vocals. They’re one of the most frequently cited influences among indie bands these days, but few groups make floaty, wispy pop anywhere near as moving as this Scottish trio and 4AD staple band. —Lizzie Manno
If it wasn’t already crystal clear by 2004, R&B trio Destiny’s Child declared their group a success via their final album title, Destiny Fulfilled. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams released debut solo albums in 2002 and Beyoncé followed a year later—and the rest is history. Even though this late ’90s, early ’00s group is often dismissed as nothing more than a footnote in Beyoncé’s illustrious career, Destiny’s Child were a force on their own, having sold tens of millions of albums and garnering over a dozen Grammy nominations. The three-piece became R&B icons and easily one of the best modern girl groups—their music is just as essential to that era of popular music as Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys. There’s been a lot of pop and R&B nostalgia tours recently, but a formal Destiny’s Child reunion (beyond their brief live reformations at the 2013 Super Bowl or Beyoncé’s historic “Beychella” performance) is one that would genuinely (and rightfully) make people lose their minds. —Lizzie Manno
Elastica never received the amount of attention bestowed upon their Britpop contemporaries, but they sure as hell still made two of the best records of that era: 1995’s self-titled debut and 2000’s The Menace. Elastica lead singer Justine Frischmann often became the subject of media chatter for her romantic involvement with Blur’s Damon Albarn or Suede’s Brett Anderson, rather than her absolutely infectious punk-pop songs, but even if we’re just comparing bands by superficial matters like their style or aura, sharply-dressed punk androgyny would still trump long parkas and Adidas trainers. I would melt if Elastica came back, but even if Frischmann doesn’t return to the stage and yell in our faces, I would still welcome the day where we’re under the same roof—she’s forever destined to be the coolest one in the room. —Lizzie Manno
Galaxie 500 has been missing from music for longer than I’ve been alive, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t welcome the mysterious, short-lived dream pop group back with open arms. The trio, featuring guitarist Dean Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang, released three albums in their two years of bandhood (the period between 1988 and 1990)—Today, On Fire and This is Our Music—and each is certifiably good, in the same way that Beach House, Galaxie 500’s 2000s successors, have never had a flop. Maybe their respective successes are owed to the fact that the dream pop genre is pretty difficult to mess up, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to perfect. Galaxie 500 were one of the first vehicles to do so, and chances are their fans would be thrilled to see them back together making music again. —Ellen Johnson
Girls can never claim to be original, but that’s not the point of their music—or any music, really. The San Francisco duo of Christopher Owens and Chet “J.R.” White made two of the most blissful pop creations of the past two decades: 2009’s Album and 2011’s Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the latter of which landed in our list of best albums of the 2010s. After their breakup in 2012, it felt like their ’60s-indebted pop was only just beginning to stretch. If and when they decide to bring their sentimental tunes back, there would be a devoted faithful waiting for them. —Lizzie Manno
Laddio Bolocko just didn’t last long enough. I don’t think their brand of maximalist free rock—think This Heat, Faust or Peter Brötzmann—would have ever endeared them to a fan base that much larger than they had during the late ’90s. They were already long gone when the 2003 compilation The Life & Times of Laddio Bolocko ramped up their profile at a time when a desperate independent music industry was slightly more accepting of the confrontational and outre. (Remember when Spin started writing about Wolf Eyes and Lightning Bolt? That was nuts.) Their small body of work remains one of the best and most uncompromising discographies from a noise scene defined by its lack of compromise, and whatever alchemy happened when these four men came together has been in short supply ever since they broke up. —Garrett Martin
Glasgow’s Life Without Buildings had the perfect career: get in, drop a perfect album, tour Australia, tell America to get bent and then break up. So it’s a little risky—and terribly selfish—to wish for their return. Any Other City, their lone LP, probably isn’t the best-known album of the 21st century (it’s not too late to make this happen, world!), but it’s one of those records that, if you like it, you likely absolutely love it to an absurd degree. I mean, it’s over 19 years old, and to this fan no finer record has been released since. (“New Town” alone is worth more than everything Thom Yorke has mewled in his entire life.) The appeal of a reunion isn’t just the possibility of finally seeing them live, but the mystery of what this idiosyncratic, utterly unique band would sound like today, almost 20 years later. Fortunately singer Sue Tompkins has continued to explore and expand on her vision through her visual and performance art. —Garrett Martin
Normally when I want a band to reunite it’s because I want them to make new records. Seeing them live would be cool, sure, but give me the reunions where the bands become a working concern again and aren’t just looking for a one-off payday. And yet that’s the opposite of how I feel about Love Is All, the Swedish indie rock band who released three great albums between 2006 and 2010 before just sort of disappearing. They arrived as a fully-formed and realized band on their first record, Nine Times That Same Song, helping to bring back the noise and excitement of an indie rock scene that had been slowly strangled by the pretentious meanderings of drips like the Decemberists, and then backed it up with some of the best and most energetic shows of the day. Their albums felt just a little less essential with each release, but they remained an unbeatable live band ‘til the end, and in a world much better than the one we live in today, they’d return with that same impact. —Garrett Martin
It’s no secret that America is gasping for air. What better time to bring back a classic punk outfit whose 1991 debut was titled 13-Point Program to Destroy America? Although, Nation of Ulysses don’t really have to lift a finger—all they really need to do is bring a folding chair and watch the dismantling of our country in real time. They undeniably embraced radical left-wing politics (their official bio touts them as “a violent separatist political party and terrorist group”), but the first NOU album is technically more explicitly about an adrenaline-fueled teenage takeover than a communist one. Frontman Ian Svenonius (The Make-Up, Chain and the Gang) is probably against band reunions on principle, given that he seems to take on a new project every five years or so, but seeing this gang cause a ruckus on stage again would be a sight to behold. —Lizzie Manno
It’s no secret that Liam Gallagher has been trying to get Oasis back together. In the decade or so since they’ve split, he’s pleaded with his brother, Noel, many times in the press and via his hilarious Twitter account, to reform their classic ’90s group—though almost every time without fail, he follows each plea with an insult. Recently, he’s offered to do a charity gig to raise money for the NHS in their time of need, and he reached out to ‘ol Noely G to reunite the band for one mega show. Though any movement between the two bitter brothers is unlikely, it’s hard to overestimate the amount of money that people would fork over just to see the band play “Live Forever” from two miles away. Now that Liam’s appearance at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival is up in the air (the festival has been postponed to October with only the headliners confirmed for the new lineup), I’ve been clinging to some small shred of hope that I’ll at least be able to see the Oasis tribute band slated to perform here in late April—which is delusional, of course. —Lizzie Manno
Scottish art-pop great Edwyn Collins has been churning out enjoyable solo albums over the past few decades (mostly recently with 2019’s Badbea), but it’s a tad surprising that we haven’t seen his beloved band Orange Juice play a celebratory Glastonbury set just yet, with herds twisting and shouting along to their hits at this glorious mudfest and British summer time tradition. Collins almost died in 2005 due to a brain hemorrhage, and faced an uphill battle of even being able to walk again, much less sing, so it’s perfectly reasonable that the group hasn’t reconvened beyond a 2008 awards show. Having said that, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to hear their jangly, wonky post-punk (specifically their best-known hit “Rip It Up”) live. —Lizzie Manno
2006 seems like an entirely different world from where we are now—and that’s because it was. That was the last time we received a studio album from the enigmatic Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast, and although they made a proper return to the festival circuit in 2014, it’s been radio silence on both fronts since then. Unfortunately, they don’t seem like they’d jump at the opportunity to get back together. In 2017, André 3000 said “if [OutKast] never do another album, I’m totally fine with that,” and he also told The Fader that their 2014 reunion tour “felt like a sell-out,” but if we’re really allowed a list of unrealistic reunion wishes, OutKast would be one of them. But fear not, André 3000 was spotted playing the flute while wandering around various major cities last year, so maybe you’ll at least run into him and catch an epic solo. —Lizzie Manno
The Postal Service was the indie supergroup that was too good to be true. Made up of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, producer Jimmy Tamborello and Jenny Lewis on background vocals, the indie pop stronghold produced some of the great electronica-pop of the early 2000s. The 2019 film Someone Great opened on a modern-day NYC friend group excitedly chatting about a Postal Service show they’d just seen, but, unfortunately, that’s nothing but a fictional fantasy. The band released their popular debut (and only full-length) album Give Up in 2003, and reunited for a handful of shows a decade later, but following that run in 2013, Gibbard announced the band would disband permanently. To walk back on that statement would be some of the best news to hit our feeds since the Bright Eyes reunion. —Ellen Johnson
P.S. Eliot is the punk band formed by two teenage twin sisters Katie and Allison Crutchfield in their native Birmingham, Ala., some time around 2007. Now you know them as the face behind Waxahatchee and the frontwoman of the punk outfit Swearin’, but they started their musical careers together. There’s plenty of material out there if you want to hear Crutchfield content: Allison has a solo record, as well as a handful of Swearin’ ones, and Katie has five albums under the Waxahatchee alias, including her most recent, the daring Americana effort Saint Cloud. But it sure would be a treat to hear their voices together again in a verified sister project. For now, we’re content to play Waxahatchee and Allison on repeat. —Ellen Johnson
Athens, Ga. alt-rockers R.E.M. don’t appear ready to budge on a reunion any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t still hold on to a single grain of hope. When a band says that a possible reunion will “never happen” (as Michael Stipe did in 2014), it might sound harsh, but plenty of bands have said that and eventually reformed for another hurrah. Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck put out their last album as R.E.M. back in 2011 and performed their last formal show in 2008, but think of all the sensitive, sexually-ambiguous oddballs like Stipe that have fallen in love with the legendary American band since then. R.E.M. (or any other group) certainly don’t owe their audience anything, but many younger fans like myself would love a chance to see them for the first time. —Lizzie Manno
Jenny Lewis just has a knack for collaborative art. While she also appears on this list thanks to The Postal Service inclusion, Rilo Kiley is the group for which she is most famous. While their 2004 album More Adventurous gained them the most national clout and their 2007 effort Under The Blacklight was equated by many to their selling out, many of their fans (this Paste editor included) would argue that each of their five records, wacky and offbeat and wordy as they may be at times, are gems in their own way. As the active Rilo Kiley lyric bot on Twitter could probably prove, there’s truly a Rilo Kiley song for every mood. Wouldn’t it be something if they reunited to take on today’s many emotions? —Ellen Johnson
One of the weirder music stories in recent years was the rediscovery of Duster, the late ’90s band that put out a couple of fine records on Up and then faded out of sight. Meanwhile Space Needle’s been sitting here the whole time, waiting for the same kind of newfound love. They weren’t quite as consistent in their aesthetic as Duster—Space Needle were willful experimentalists, jamming their two albums with a variety of goals and approaches—but “space rock” is as nebulous a tag as any other, and it can be loosely applied to both of them. Duster fans might enjoy the woozy, droning, lo-fi dirge “Before I Lose My Style,” or the subtly creepy “Never Lonely Alone.” Space Needle didn’t sound like something cooked up in a lab, though—there’s a warmth and humanity underpinning everything, and some legitimately great songwriting. —Garrett Martin
After returning from my recent trip to Reykjavík, Iceland, I somehow left even more headstrong in my belief that The Sugarcubes are one of the most underrated bands ever. To be fair, Iceland hasn’t seen that many of their native bands blow up into global sensations, so the walls of the tiny Icelandic Punk Museum—which was formerly an underground public restroom—are understandably plastered with photos of the band and a timeline of Björk’s musical career (which started surprisingly earlier than you might think). But even without being swayed by the country’s visible love of this band, The Sugarcubes genuinely deserved to be an international sensation—it just so happened that they were Iceland’s first. No indie or dream pop outfit will ever sound like The Sugarcubes, because no other group has Björk—a nymph-like figure and art-pop goddess—fronting them. I wholeheartedly endorse any reason for her to return to the stage, but Björk reforming her forward-thinking guitar pop band ranks pretty high in my list of reasons. —Lizzie Manno
TLC released an album less than four years ago, but they haven’t properly been together making music in much longer. That album, a self-titled effort, was funded via a Kickstarter campaign, and the group announced that it would be their last. But that still begs the question: What would a post-#MeToo TLC look like? The R&B trio were feminist icons, so maybe now could be a good time for their return. In the meantime, we, thankfully, still have the hits to stream on repeat. The thanks all go to TLC for teaching us the most important life lessons: to never chase waterfalls, never settle for a scrub and never partake in silly conversations. —Ellen Johnson