Initially intrigued when the announcement was made that the Summerland Tour – featuring Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge – was coming to the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, my enthusiasm waned as I realized I was never much of a fan of these outfits in the ‘90s.
So why would I like ‘em now?
An unclear shot of Everclear on June 8 at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.
That previous statement is a bit of a blanket – I did enjoy Live before the band jumped the shark and I saw the quartet before at the House of Blues several moons ago. But that was when founding singer Ed Kowalczyk was in the band.
Knowing that he was not going to be with Live this go around, I kind of hemmed and hawed and couldn’t make a decision whether to go to Saturday’s concert or not.
I knew tons of people going – and it would probably be a hell of a ‘90s alt-rock party.
Two things happened that swayed my decision.
First up, we ran an interview with Art Alexakis of Everclear in last week’s Surge where he explained the concept of the tour, and said each band would perform roughly seven songs apiece. This spoke to my inner Attention Deficit Disorder as I figured there wouldn’t be much time to get bored or restless.
Secondly, the tour’s publicist asked if we needed review passes.
Well, OK, that was the nudge I needed to put me over the fence.
So, here is the review, since I accepted a review pass.
We got there right as Alexakis, who basically emceed the evening, introduced the first act, Sponge, best known for a pair of ‘90s alt-rock smashes “Plowed” and “Molly (16 Candles Down the Drain”). We had just listened to both of these tracks on the way to the show – so it was nice to hear ‘em again so soon in the live setting and fresh on my mind. Vocalist Vinnie Dombroski, the lone remaining original member of the band, played around a little bit with the intro to “Molly,” but otherwise it was an arrangement faithful to the record – and I had forgotten how catchy a song it is. It didn’t really matter that Dombroski surrounds himself with hired guns – they were all into it and represented the brand, er band, well.
A bathroom break and smoke break on the terrace ensued – and then bam! Sponge was gone after a five-song set. Wow, Alexakis wasn’t kidding.
We speculated who would be next – but not for long as the Filter logo was lowered on the stage backdrop.
Filter I had seen before as well, and knew that Richard Patrick and crew would probably bring the noise. And I was right.
As with Sponge, Patrick is on the only remaining original member of Filter – but basically he IS Filter having stated that it is more of a project than a band, and as Alexakis introduced the second act, he said Patrick taught him how to be a rock star. Not that Patrick, who was dressed in all black, cropped, messy hair and sporting spectacles doesn’t look much different than say an IT professional these days.
As anticipated, the foursome - with Patrick front and center - launched head-long into some grooving, grinding industrial rock, including the sing-songy “What Do You Say,” the second single from Filter’s spanking new album “The Sun Comes Out Tonight,” which was released last week.
And of course we go the requisite hits – “Hey Man, Nice Shot” and the ballad-esque “Take A Picture.”
The main intrigue was trying to figure out if Filter’s waify, rail-thin guitarist was a chick or a dude-looks-like-a-lady. I came to the conclusion that it was a chick as I thought I saw a hint of a bra underneath a tight-fitting vest. But I was wrong…it turns out it was Johnny Radke, a former member of Kill Hannah. Dude needs to eat a sammich.
And like that, Filter was gone…
Overheard at the end of Filter’s set by a tall guy with a thick redneckian accent, “Live better hurry up, ‘cuz that sucked.”
I disagree, I thought Filter killed it.
A quick set change-over and Live, with new singer Chris Shinn, was introduced by Alexakis, who said the band had more hits than all of the Summerland acts combined.
Shinn, with a faux-hawk, seemed a bit cheesy in his enthusiasm and mannerisms, but if you closed your eyes, he sounded the part. And many in the crowd didn’t seem to know the difference, singing along and bobbing their heads in time to “Lakini’s Juice” and “Lightning Crashes.” I didn’t take notes, but Live’s set was definitely longer than the previous two bands’.
I thought Live did a credible job considering the big shoes the band members had to fill, but I bumped into an acquaintance who professed to being a big fan of the band, and he thought it was terrible. He said Shinn flubbed several of the vocal cues and forgot lyrics – which I hadn’t noticed.
And then it was time for the man of the hour – Alexakis and his band Everclear – which, sticking with the theme, is a bunch of new(ish) players surrounding the platinum-haired frontman – and not the trio responsible for scoring the band’s biggest hits.
Members of Live introduced Everclear and told the crowd the package tour was his brainchild, and Alexakis basked in the adulation.
I must profess that I don’t care much for Everclear – many of their songs sound the same to me – although Alexakis is a likeable enough guy and seems to be sincere in his devotion to rock ‘n’ roll and speaking his mind, which is great in this P.C.-ruled culture that we live in.
However, I do put Everclear’s “Santa Monica” up there with any of the greatest rock songs of the 1990s, so I’ll give Alexakis that.
That being said, songs such as “A.M. Radio” and “Father of Mine” came off better in the much rawer setting of a live venue – more rough, tough and raggedly emotional. And I liked the rendition of “So Much for the Afterglow.”
The band even vamped a few phrases from Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” which got a big pop from the audience.
But nothing is ever going to make me like the extremely cloying “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Everything to Everyone” – including 24-ounce, $9 Miller Lites.
All of the bands joined Everclear on stage for the finale, “Santa Monica,” and kind of ruined it for me, because I like the original so much, and having ten different vocalists shout out the “swim out past the breakers” line was a bit of overkill, but they looked like they were having fun.
They all took their bows, shuffled off stage, and the house lights went up – with four bands on one ticket, we weren’t getting an encore.
Opinions – of course, are like assholes and everybody’s got one – seemed to vary from the chatter I heard during and after the show about which band was more impressive, but I’m going to stick with my assessment that Filter stole the show.
Nice shot, man.