To Be or Not to Be...Irrelevant

One of the most pointed dismissals directed towards a veteran artist is to call them irrelevant. It’s a slightly less disrespectful version of has-been, and is meant to convey the sense that there is no use for them or their music in the current climate. But it seems that truly and accurately defining actual irrelevance has fallen into the realm of Potter Stewart, the noted US Supreme Court justice whose candor elicited the popular phrase “I know it when I see it”, when asked to judge the threshold of pornography regarding a particular film. (He did not consider Louis Malle's The Lovers to be obscene.) His response a highly appropriate one when facing subjective matter with a lack of properly defined parameters. But if you’re as prickly as we are with the judgment of many if not most current music “critics”, you might want to repair to the nearest salt mine.

We came across a recent video clip of Everclear playing their big 1995 hit “Santa Monica” as an encore alongside fellow '90s denizens Spacehog at Portland, Oregon’s Crystal Palace this past summer, to what looked like a sold out crowd (cap. 2,000). Now, we’re pretty sure the folks who write about music these days would readily deem Everclear—and Spacehog—as irrelevant. (For the record, we’re not making an argument one way or another.) But if you can play to a couple thousand fans more than 20 years into your career at “regular” venues, as opposed to state fairs and oldies revues—many of those singing along to “Santa Monica" at the top of their lungs seemed, in all likelihood, to have been toddlers when the song was a hit—what is it, then, that makes an artist irrelevant?