Despite former Afghan Whigs frontman and current Twilight Singer Greg Dulli telling Hive earlier this year that the band “laid that sword down a long time ago,” the Cincinnati four-piece have apparently decided to unsheathe it for their first shows since breaking up in 1999. After Guided By Voices bowed out of London’s All Tomorrow’s Parties in May for unspecified “personal reasons,” Dulli and bandmates Rick McCollum and John Curley agreed to fill in for the band — playing alongside Slayer and Mogwai, because holy shit, if you were an alienated teenager in the ‘90s this is awesome. They also announced a performance at a Dulli-curated ATP event in the Fall of 2012 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Obviously, this is super exciting, given that the Whigs are passionately adored by a small, but downright fanatical, fanbase, and that as recently as seven months ago our hope-filled attempt to get Dulli to consider the idea was quickly squashed. Here’s advice on how to make this a fan’s wet-dream come true.
Obvious, really, but given how unlikely any sort of Afghan Whigs reunion seemed for the past 13 years (the band didn’t even play any shows upon releasing its Unbreakable retrospective, which featured a pair of new songs), the idea of a tour following these shows is no longer as far-fetched as it might have previously seemed.
2. Avoid the classic album start-to-finish trend
The headline on www.afghanwhigs.com reads “Your attention please,” the opening line to the title-track from the Whigs’ signature 1993 album Gentlemen, but there’s no need to make this a “band playing the album that has a 33 1/3 book about it” sort of engagement – the Whigs’ discography is pretty deep, and after more than a decade away, it’ll be more exciting to hear “You My Flower,” “My Enemy,” and “John The Baptist” than to hear the band tear through Gentlemen in its entirety.
3. Continue those zany covers
A hallmark of the Whigs’ – and of Dulli’s Twilight Singers — is the interpolation of unlikely, note-perfect covers in the set, informing the band’s original material by placing it in a larger context. There’s little worry that an Afghan Whigs reunion show will be overwhelmed by Dulli crooning New Order and Kanye West jams, but it wouldn’t truly feel like a Whigs set if they didn’t open the songbook to material by other artists, either.
4. Write something new, please
It’s probably even less likely than a full tour, but given how good the new songs on 2007’s Unbreakable collection were, it seems imminently possible that new Afghan Whigs songs could add to the band’s legacy in a meaningful way. How often can you say that?
5. But don’t forget about the Twilight Singers or the Gutter Twins
One risk of this sort of reunion is that the artists start resting on their laurels. (Has anyone really cared about a Frank Black solo record since the Pixies reunited?) It’d be great if the Whigs reunion stuck around and included a new album and a tour, but it’d also be nice to see the Twilight Singers revert to a playground for Dulli’s weirder, more electronically-based musical ideas, and the Gutter Twins stick around as a place for him to unleash his id/scare the crap out of us with Mark Lanegan. We’re pretty sure the dude quit doing drugs a few years ago, so he’s gotta be looking for something to fill his time, right?
Revisit the Afghan Whigs with this video for “Conjure Me,” where a young Dulli is tasked with singing into the camera while a topless woman caresses him.