July 25th, 2013 at 1:40 pm
Nostalgia works best in small doses. We don’t REALLY want to live in a past era, we just want to fondly remember the best of our moments from that time. The ’90s weren’t all great — for every Tupac there was a Creed and for every slap bracelet (still cool!) was a far-too-baggy Jordache sweatshirt.
Headlining band Everclear played roughly a 40-minute set, packed from start to finish with songs the crowd recognized on the first note. They played only eight songs — or nine, if you include their two turns through a verse of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” using vocalists from other bands on the bill — and only one was released later than 1997. That song, “Wonderful,” came out in 2000. Nevermind that Everclear has issued four full-length albums since that release, including one just last year.
The three other bands touring alongside Everclear on the Summerland excursion — Sponge, Filter and Live — followed that model. In their brief sets, the opening acts focused on the hits of yesteryear, with the notable exception of three Filter tracks from their June 2013 release “The Sun Comes Out Tonight.”
The Summerland tour, in addition to overlooking some of the more forgetable tracks from the four band’s catalogs, grazes past much of the lineup turmoil they have collectively experienced. All four have experienced significant changes. Lead singer Vinnie Dombrowski is Sponge’s only remaining original member. Vocalists Art Alexakis and Richard Patrick, of Everclear and Filter, respectively, are also the only original members of their bands. The opposite is true of Live, where the band members remain the same except for the presence of founding vocalist Ed Kowalczyk, who departed from the band in 2009. The remaining three members of the band would later file a lawsuit against him. Live now tours with Chris Shinn as lead vocalist.
Perhaps ironically, then, Live sounded just as much like themselves as any of the other bands gathered for the Summerland tour. I thought Alexakis sounded tired, and Everclear like a close approximation their 1990s-era selves. But Shinn did a fine job with Live’s vocals, although he often didn’t need to sing, as the crowd of about 1,500 often did that for him. That fell in some contrast to the crowd’s response during Filter’s performance. Although the fans perked up for “Take a Picture” and “Hey Man Nice Shot,” Patrick several times thrusted his microphone in the direction of the audience and urged them to sing along, with middling returns. There are few things sadder than a singer who begs for crowd response and gets met with silence, either because the crowd doesn’t know the song or is too sparse in number to make a noise.
Of course, it’s also sad to watch a band with a slew of hits from previous decades insist on playing only their most recent material. Several of the bands addressed that very topic. Alexakis asked the crowd if he had any fans from the ’90s present (he did, judging by the cheer he received), and Patrick said when he attends a show, the time a band spends playing new music is the time he spends getting a snack.
There wasn’t much time to fetch a snack last night. With 30-minute sets and 15-minute setbreaks, it was a streamlined affair. And in those sizes, unlike some of our clothes from that time, the ’90s still fit just fine.
Everclear: 1) So Much for the Afterglow; 2) Everything to Everyone; 3) Father of Mine; 4) Heroin Girl; 5) The Twistinside; 6) I Will Buy You a New Life; 7) Rock and Roll [Led Zeppelin cover with Richard Patrick and Chris Shinn on guest vocals]; 8) Wonderful; 9) Santa Monica [all bands performed]
Live: 1) All Over You; 2) Selling the Drama; 3) Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition); 4) Lakini’s Juice; 5) [unknown song]; 6) Lightning Crashes; 7) I Alone
Filter: 1) (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do; 2) What Do You Say; 3) We Hate It When You Get What You Want; 4) It’s Got To Be Right Now; 5) Take a Picture; 6) Hey Man Nice Shot
Sponge: [Didn't record this one. Anyone?]