The combination of nostalgia and cultural canonization has, at this point, consistently inundated clubs with veteran guitar bands playing “classic” albums. I use scare quotes partially because I wouldn’t consider, say, Senses Fail’s Let it Enfold You a “classic” album—but that didn’t stop the saccharine posthardcore group from building a ten-year anniversary tour around it last year. The phenomenon is prominent in rock but not exclusive to it. For the latest example head to the House of Blues on Tuesday to see Raekwon and Ghostface Killah perform all of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx . . . to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary.
I won’t begrudge anyone for wanting to throw down cash to see that album performed in full, in part because I too have spent many nights watching musical acts play entire records that I hold dear. It’s a gimmick, sure, but one that also forces you to face the fact that your favorite musicians get older. It can be a painful, but helpful lesson, one that makes you realize that you get older too.
One of my biggest issues with these “classic albums” tours is that they not only divert attention away from unfamiliar or lesser-known artists, but they also overshadow excellent new music from veterans whose fans still want to hear old cuts. Take west-coast hip-hop heavyweight DJ Quik, who is touring on his ninth album, last year’s The Midnight Life. The record is by no means completely overlooked: when it came out in the fall it received positive praise across the board, and peaked at number 63 on the Billboard 200. Listening to the album now, from the opening notes of the banjo-spiked funk of “That Nigga’z Crazy” through the sweet hooks of “Pet Semetary” and “Bacon’s Groove,” it feels as though whatever praise and support fell on The Midnight Life wasn’t sufficient enough.
DJ Quik pulls into town Friday to headline Subterranean, which, as anyone who’s toured Chicago’s venues knows, is much smaller than House of Blues. If I had it my way Quik would be playing at a much bigger space, but I can’t complain about the possibility of seeing this guy in such an intimate space.