Wednesday, July 4, 2012

HearSay Live Review: Summerland - Greek Theatre L.A. 6/29/12

Live at the Greek Theatre in L.A., '80s vs '90s round one:
Summerland June 29th, 2012

I saw the inaugural "Summerland" tour Fri. If you're a fan of mediocre, '90s to early '00s "Alt Rock," then this show's for you: Marcy Playground vs Lit, Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray, and Everclear. Sugar Ray won by a nose if only for their decent cover of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" and Everclear's many sound problems. Primarily the first '90s nostalgia tour, at least Everclear and Lit have released new albums. It was strange to hear Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath and Everclear's Art Alexakis bragging through the evening about selling out, when at least 500 of the 6162 seats were blocked off and empty. Both them cats need to check in with their optometrists, all the liquor & drugs has affected their vision. (Although A.A. is now in AA.)

Ray's karaoke experiment featuring two teenage boys was half way interesting in that the guy who 'sang' the Beastie Boys' “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” had it goin' on, the other guy seems to have been the only person on Earth to have not heard  Black Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling.” Both being two of the greatest NINETIES songs of course. (WTF?)
Like him, or loathe him, McGrath displayed an easy going charm, a sense of humor and humbleness while clearly acknowledging the fact that his music career has seen better days. Comically, the "Seinfeld" theme popped up a couple times in between his 'grateful to be here' banter, automatically reminding us of his band's glory days and a by-gone era before iPhones, X-Boxes and sexting. Clearly the highlights of their set was the opener “Someday” and it's nearly identical sounding sibling “Fly,” S.R.'s last song which had everyone singing along.

Alexakis' band didn't fare as well due to over all sloppiness  and  engineers who must not be an Everclear fans. They just couldn't get his vocals too sound half way decent. I found this strange since they were fine for every other band. Either completely overwhelmed by the mix, or totally subdued tonally, it was as if Art's throat had a few coats of mud coating it half the time he was throwing lyrics onstage. He sounded very hoarse of course. Sonically, things weren't much better for the band. The guitars were mushy, and ill-defined. Good news if you're a bass and drums fan though. By the time they came on, the crowd was good & lubricated and didn't seem to mind as they sang along to their best songs: "I Will Buy You a New Life," "Father of Mine," and of course the iconic show closer, "Santa Monica."

Opening act Marcy Playground reminded everybody why they liked their one hit “Sex and Candy” so much. They obviously closed their set with it, and it still holds up remarkably well. Fullerton's Lit played a set of mostly forgettable tunes and the excellent "My Own Worst Enemy," and  "Miserable." "Miserable" receiving the award for 'most clever wordplay' of the evening. The excitement-challenged Gin Blossoms, (who seem to have more legit hits than anyone else on the bill, so what are they doing in the middle of the set?) played a tight, no frills, ho-hum 8 song set. The 'highlights' of their set were "Til I Hear From You," and "Hey Jealousy."

McGrath should seriously think about adding one more gig to his resume: comedian. Over-selling the bill a few times by saying it's “the music we all love” and referring to the bands as “the most iconic of the decade.” (Paging Nirvana, Radiohead & Beck-I hear fightin' words!) Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, he REALLY topped himself when he praised Art Alexakis as “our generation's Brian Wilson.” Thanks Mark, I needed a good laugh! They've threatened to bring this tour back next year, having a new set of bands open for "EverRay". Verdict: 2.5 stars out of 5. Might I suggest a stronger set of openers:

1. Fastball/Dishwalla/Toadies/Sonichrome
2. Screaming Trees/Lemonheads/Eve 6
3.Tonic/Collective Soul/Third Eye Blind

If this stuff is your kinda medicine, check out the similar themed Last Summer on Earth Tour (featuring Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Cracker and Big Head Todd & the Monsters) which stops in L.A. at the Gibson Amphitheatre on July 27. Now where's that "Seinfeld" box set...

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