Show Review: Summerland Tour: Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit, Marcy Playground at Mountain Winery, 6/28/12

by Dakin Hardwick on July 2, 2012

Art Alexakis and Mark McGrath: Your Tour Organizers

When I first heard about this Summerland tour, I didn’t believe it. As a punker kid in high school, these were all bands that I was too good for.  I would only listen to Live 105 or KOME in secret, while I told my friends that I was listening to bands like The Queers or cub. I did see Everclear back in the day, but only because they opened for Primus. Sugar Ray? I saw because Save Ferris and Goldfinger were opening. But I secretly enjoyed these bands. Even when this tour was booked, my gut was to be an angsty 16 year old and make fun of it. But, secretly, I really wanted to go. Since I am much more comfortable with my own skin, I decided to own my nostalgia and make the long trek from Oakland to Saratoga, a city that most Oaklanders aren’t even aware of.

Marcy Playground

I listened to a lot of music in the 90’s. Yet, somehow, Marcy Playground were a band that I managed to miss, aside from their lone hit, “Sex & Candy.” To my surprise, they weren’t exactly the folk trio that I expected them to be. Their songs were, generally, loud and snarky. They played their hearts, despite the relatively meager crowd. The show started at 6:30 on a Thursday, which meant that the majority of the attendees were still trying to leave their place of work. It’s always difficult to go on first, but this was an especially unforgiving audience. They sounded great, and much heavier than I expected, although I think the audience was thirsty for something a little more accesible. Even when they played their big hit, the audience merely politley clapped. I’d love to see them in a dirty dark club someday, because this really wasn’t the proper place to witness this band.

Lit

By the time Lit took the stage at 7:10 (things moved very quickly), the crowd had swelled up quite nicely. Lit played a solid 30 minute set of infectious pop punk that was light years away from Marcy Playground’s college radio rock, and seemed to be more in line with what the audience wanted to hear. It didn’t hurt that they had a much more “hit” oriented setlist. The second song in the set was a cover of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars, which went straight into “Last Time Again” from the soundtrack to American Pie 2, which got a good portion of the crowd up and moving. Then they played “You Make Me,” which is better known as the Pamela Anderson video. I had completely forgotten about this song, but the frenzy of screaming girls that erupted at the first chorus of “You Make Me Cum… You Make Me Complete… You Make Me Completely Miserable…” proved that the fans didn’t.

The Popoff brothers, Jeremy on lead guitar and A. Jay on vocals, still looked as lean and energetic as they did in 1999. They soaked up the crowds enthusiasm, and generally looked like they were having the time of their lives. In fact, they were better than when I last saw them at Maritime Hall in 1999. Sure, it was a little ridiculous that they left the stage after 17 minutes so they could do an “encore”, but I forgave them since they really put their all into this performance. The played one new song (“View From The Bottom”), which reminded me more of Motley Crue than The Ramones, which was fine, especially since the woman of the crowd seemed to really enjoy the new sound. And, when they closed with “My Own Worst Enemy,” one could easily tell that the audience didn’t want to let them go, and the whole audience erupted into a pogo .

Gin Blossoms

Full disclosure: I’ve been wanting to see this band since my freshman year of high school. But, the broke up before I could see them in their heyday. And, yes, they’ve toured since then, but it hadn’t worked out for me to get to any of those shows. So, yes, I was pretty stoked about this set. I also didn’t know what to expect of them after all these years. They were the “oldest” band on the bill, so anything could have happened in these many years. They have been through the usual rock n roll issues of addiction and so on, and I was worried that a toll had been taken.  So when they came on stage looking healthy, trim, and energized, I was relieved.

Aside from the drummer, these were all of the members from the New Miserable Experience era of the band. Lead singer Robin Wilson’s warm tenor actually sounded better than it did in 1992. The rest of the bands harmonies were pitch perfect, and they ripped through their 30 greatest hits set with amazing energy. Wilson spent nearly as much time running through the crowd as he did on stage, all without missing a beat or a note. Most singers half his age couldn’t do what he did without getting winded.  Lead guitarist Scott Johnson played every solo with twice the energy as the records did from 1992. Even though it was almost entirely songs from the early 90’s, they didn’t play it as if they were a retro act. They played to win over an audience, and that they did. You knew that this was the most respected band of the day, because members of Marcy Playground, Lit, and Everclear were all spotted in the crowd during their set, rocking out with the rest of us.

Setlist:

Follow You Down

Until I Fall Away

Miss Disarmy

Found Out About You

Allison Road

A Million Miles Away (Plimsouls)

Til I Hear It From You

Hey Jealousy

Sugar Ray

Photo by Jen McGaffey

 

Warning: I am about to say somethings that will hurt the sensibilities of some readers.  Please stop reading if you can’t bear to read good things about a widely despised band.

Sugar Ray. Nobody admits to liking this band. They started out as a nü-metal band, threw a summery pop song on a record as a joke, and then embarked on a career where they sounded less like Slayer and more like a straight up pop group. They are also the most self aware band to ever come out.

Before the band came out, they blasted the theme to Saved By The Bell on the overhead. The band then dove headfirst into “Someday,” a track off their breakthrough 14:59, their 1999 album with the cheekiest title ever, referencing to the end of their career. The band was solid, and Mark McGrath may be the most charismatic frontman in rock. His look is ageless, and although he was never the greatest singer, he still sounded the same as he ever had. He made several jokes about this being a 90’s tour, but also joked about Fall Out Boy already being lined up for next year. And, of course, every single body in the crowd was up, dancing, and singing along. They even managed to pull out a classic from the metal years, playing “Mean Machine” off Lemonade & Brownies and a faithful cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

If there was on mistep in this performance, it was the “freestyle battle.” Even with the sub-headliner slot, they still only got 30 minutes. The band has more than 30 minutes worth of hits, yet they sacrificed that time with bringing to random guys from the audience on stage to attempt to freestyle rap. Terrible idea. The first guy ended up having brutal stage fright and ran away. The second guy simply ran around and sang Black Eyed Peas lyrics. (Didn’t hurt that his backing track was “Gotta Feeling”) But, Sugar Ray were phenomanal, and really could use a solid comeback headlining tour. They looked like they were just getting warmed up before they ended their set.

Setlist

Someday/Groovin’ (The Rascals)

Answer The Phone

Every Morning

Falls Apart

When It’s Over

Mean Machine

Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones)

-Audience Freestyle-

Fly

Everclear

I found it strange that Everclear closed this out. Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray both sold more records and played larger venues in their heyday. But, the tour is named after an Everclear song, and it was Art Alexakis brain child, so they took the hour long closer. Alexakis is the only original member of the band, and they are no longer a power trio.

This also meant that, after being treated to two sets of all singles that everybody in the crowd new every lyric to, we had album track and rarities to deal with. Yes, Everclear sounded great. The songs were played with precision, and the energy was fine. However, Alexakis will never have the charisma of Mark McGrath. This was simply a band that stood there and played songs. The audience got into the hits like “Father Of Mine” and “Heroin Girl,” but by the middle of their set, folks started sitting down for the first time all night, and people even started leaving. By the time they closed with “Santa Monica,” half the crowd headed to the parking lot. They ended up creeping slightly passed the venue’s 10:30 curfew, because the power was cut halfway through the song. It was an anticlimactic end to what was an otherwise fun night of remincising over great records.

Setlist

So Much For The Afterglow

Everything To Everyone

Father Of Mine

Heroin Girl

Summerland

I Will Buy You A New Life

Be Careful What You Ask For

Love Will Die

AM Radio

Wonderful

Santa Monica

—-

Throughout the show, they kept teasing about next year’s tour. In the comments, leave suggestions as to which 90’s alternative radio mainstays you’d like to see on a package tour next summer!

 

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniele Bushong July 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

Great review, thanks…headed to the Tulsa show in a couple of days. Would love to see Third Eye Blind thrown in the mix next summer. Maybe some Oasis.

Reply

Justin July 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Caught the Saturday show in Fort Worth and had a blast! Some bands I would like to see in upcoming years:
Third Eye Blind
Stroke 9
Eve 6
Fastball
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Wheatus
The Donnas
Belly or just Tanya Donnely

Reply

Draven July 11, 2012 at 6:29 am

Thanks for the preview. I’m seeing the show on the 24th. However, it would have been better if you could have bothered to get the correct names for the songs.

Reply

Dakin Hardwick July 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Thanks Draven! I did mess up on one of the Gin Blossoms titles…

Reply

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