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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gin Blosssoms, Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Marcy Playground at the Family Arena, 8/7/12: Reviews, Photos and Setlists

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 11:01 AM

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  • Sugar Ray. Photo by Jason Stoff

McGrath was ushered on stage by the Saved By the Bell theme song, which bled into the band covering the Sufaris' "Wipe Out," with McGrath, bespectacled in sunglasses, seeming to invite the comparison to Animal from the Muppets. If McGrath was Animal, then Sugar Ray's set was the Great Gonzo, firing bombastic cannonball-sized bits from the first to last song. All the radio and Total Request Live jams were represented: "Someday" followed by "Answer the Phone," then "Every Morning" and "When It's Over." McGrath is a showman, a ham and a half, and Summerland is better for it. His energy and eager enthusiasm plays like the rest of the "Summerland fellowship" (a term Robin Wilson used to describe the collective) who preceded Sugar Ray, though in louder, more animated bursts. The only hiccup in an otherwise entertaining interlude was the group's cover of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop," which at worst was middling and cringe-worthy, but at best so absurd it worked. This is Summerland, and the '90s rock stars are calling the shots.

Sugar Ray ended the most dialed-up performance of the night with its first big hit, "Fly," and if possible, the audience cheered and danced and sang along with increasing zeal as it had, incrementally so, as the night progressed. When Sugar Ray exited and announced the last act of the night, Everclear, a bizarre thing happened as the lights came up and techs descended on the stage for set changes: Flocks of audience members exited the arena. Generally I expect a headliner to receive the bulk of a room that gradually swells with each preceding act, but that was not case. Though the show's closer, it was obvious when Everclear took the stage why the crowd quickly thinned.

  • Everclear. Photo by Jason Stoff

Everclear's Dave French, Freddy Herrera, Josh Crawley and Sean Winchester did their best to bolster lead singer Art Alexakis, but his underwhelming vocals, mumbled with disinterest and peppered with lyric-flubbling and -forgetting, was the first time that evening that a band sounded undeserving of latter-day praise. Opening with "Father of Mine," the group played ten songs; mostly hits and early cuts from their 1995 album Sparkle and Fade -- is the tour named for "Summerland," the fifth track on that album? I guess we're supposed to infer as much. They didn't sound great, but when, eight songs in, Alexakis couldn't remember the lyrics to "Wonderful," one of the band's biggest radio hits, it started to also feel kind of sad.

"Everybody stop. I forgot the words to my own song," Alexakis said. "Do you guys mind if we start from the second verse? I know this is a big song for a lot of people you want me to start over? I got distracted when somebody told me something I didn't like."

It's unclear what was said or who exactly distracted him, but the flub was made especially embarrassing by the band's obvious efforts to assist with back-up (primary?) vocals throughout the set: Were they trying to help prevent the very lyric-lapse that occurred? The discomfort created by Alexakis not knowing his own work was temporarily alleviated when Lit's A. Jay Popoff returned to the stage to sing a sick rendition of the refrain of Led Zeppelin's "Rock 'n' Roll," the band shredding guitar and pounding drums. It was almost engrossing enough to forgive Alexakis, and the last song, Everclear's first single, "Santa Monica," saw him sharing vocals with Popoff and Robin Wilson, who, for their parts, definitely knew the words to that song. So did the audience, or what was left of the audience at that point. By then, with failures and triumphs well past exposed, the best we in the crowd could do was throw ourselves into the song into the moment, dance with abandon and participate in the collective shout-along that yearns to, "Swim out past the breakers/watch the world die."

  • Photo by Jason Stoff

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: Technically I think my age makes me a "Millennial," but since such generational labels paint with broad strokes, I'd much prefer to consider myself a Gen-X kid.

Random Detail: During Lit's set, security guards asked multiple parents to stop foisting their toddlers onto their shoulders. "But sir, 'My Own Worst Enemy' is Aidan's favorite song!"

Overheard: "I feel like he thinks he's the voice of a generation," said about Mark McGrath during one of the singer's many interludes and, "I feel like I'm at Rollercade at 8 p.m. on a Friday night in 1997."

Marcy Playground Setlist: 1. Devil Woman 2. Poppies 3. Rock 'n Roll Heroes 4. Special 5. Deadly Handsome Man 6. Saint Joe on a School Bus 7. Punk Rock Superstar 8. It's Saturday 9. Sex and Candy

Lit Setlist: 1. Four 2. Lipstick and Bruises 3. Miss You Gone 4. Miserable 5. Zip-Lock 6. The Broken 7. My Own Worst Enemy

Gin Blossoms Setlist: 1. Follow You Down 2. Until I Fall Away 3. Lost Horizons 4. Found Out About You 5. Allison Road 6. A Million Miles Away (Plimsouls cover) 7. 'Til I Hear It From You 8. Hey Jealousy

Sugar Ray Setlist: 1. Wipe Out (Sufaris cover) 2. Someday 3. Answer the Phone 4. Every Morning 5. When It's Over 6. Mean Machine 7. Blitzkrieg Bop (the Ramones cover) 8. Fly

Everclear Setlist: 1. Father of Mine 2. Everything to Everyone 3. A.M. Radio 4. Herion Girl 5. Heartspark Dollarsign 6. I Will Buy You a New Life 7. Be Careful What You Wish For 8. Wonderful 9. Rock & Roll (Led Zepplin cover) 10. Santa Monica

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