Thurs Feb 10
3017 SE Milwaukie
Bands end. It's that simple. But like most things in rock culture, "simple" doesn't necessarily mean "uncomplicated." If you're in or into the band in question, the ending can be fraught with some of the most complex, contradictory emotions imaginable.
The news that Luna is calling it a day didn't come as much of a shock, as band breakups go. They've made a bunch of good records, at least one great one, weathered lineup changes, and effectively slugged it out for the last 12 years in the upper-middle class of well-respected indie rock bands that can reliably fill the 300-600 capacity clubs of America and Western Europe. As a fan of the band for the last seven of those years, my impulse was to greet the news with sadness. But on reflection, I've come to view the band's "retirement" (as they're calling it) as final and lasting proof of everything I love and respect about them. They're bowing out by choice, without fanfare or (public) recrimination, and, just to sweeten the pot, they're doing it on the heels of a totally worthy final record (Rendezvous) and a farewell tour. It's exactly the kind of humble, righteous move I would expect from a band that has made mellow, unpretentious grace the mark of its career.
In all fairness, my sanguine attitude towards the band's conclusion has at least a particle of rationalization about it. The fact is that I haven't been paying particularly close attention for a while, a fact that has more to do with my getting older than it does with anything about the band's last few records. In my mind, 1995's Penthouse was the masterpiece, and its 1997 follow-up, Pup Tent, a close rival for the throne. Since then, there have been three full-lengths and an EP, all of which were strong releases that played to the band's biggest strengths, namely the wickedly deft dual guitar interplay of Dean Wareham and Sean Eden, Wareham's laconic wit and deceptively simple melodies, and the overall creation and maintenance of a cool, gentle, funny, urban, urbane vibe. Still, the primary distinguishing characteristic of these records--of all Luna's records since the feet-finding Bewitched came out in 1994--was their consistency. This is a band that did one thing extraordinarily well, and unlike many a band before them, had the good sense never to swerve from that course. Now, it seems, they don't really feel like doing it anymore, so guess what? They're not going to. That's not sad. On the contrary, it's admirable as hell.