90’s nostalgia was in full swing at the House of Blues, Boston. The third year of the Summerland Tour, brainchild of Everclear‘s Art Alexakis and Sugar Ray‘s Mark McGrath, featured four bands that had success in the mid to late nineties: Spacehog, Eve 6, Soul Asylum and Everclear. These were the glory days of *gasp* music videos on Music Television, aka MTV. I can still vividly recall the hit songs of each of these bands because of their music videos. Alexakis played the role of emcee, riling up the fans between sets and introducing the bands.
Fans slowly filled in the three level venue as show time approached. The general admission floor was packed while the second and third levels with stadium seating had plenty of extra space. The audience was comprised of 30-somethings; fans of each band could be found in the front row against the photo pit barrier, excitedly awaiting their performances.
English rockers Spacehog opened the night with a 20 minute set full of energy and intensity. Lead singer and bassist Royston Langdon made all sorts of faces while performing, but you couldn’t doubt the bands passion. They held their biggest hit until the end of the set, but fans were treated to other popular songs off their debut album, Resident Alien, as well as Mungo City from 1998’s The Chinese Album. By the time the band launched into In the Meantime, the crowd was singing along at full volume. Unfortunately, it took the stage crew 20 minutes to break down and set up for the next band; the same amount of time Spacehog played for. The audience’s enthusiasm resumed as soon as Eve 6 took the stage. The set style was very similar: one hit song, Here’s to the Night, in the middle then another at the end, Inside Out. Eve 6’s stage presence was completely different, with lead singer Max Collins strutting his way back and forth across the stage. He bent down to sing at Jon Siebels’ microphone, stood facing drummer Tony Fagenson and encouraged the audience to clap along to songs while balancing on one leg.
After another long break between bands, Soul Asylum took the stage. While having the most extensive back catalogue to select from, the band seemed to rush through their set. They didn’t engage the audience at all, instead, they preferred to cover their faces with their hair and jam. The lone original member of the band, Dave Pirner, looked down right annoyed as he sang Runaway Train and quickly left the stage as soon as Somebody to Shove ended. Despite their aloof attitude, their set was solid. By the time Everclear took the stage, it was past 10:30. For the previous hour and change of music the fans were treated to, there was more than an hour and a half of stage set up. Maybe I was supposed to be getting drinks during all this, but it really was jarring to have such shortened sets broken up with longer periods of down time.
Everclear’s first song of the night was an acoustic rendition of Santa Monica, with the band huddled around a microphone at the front of the stage. Art Alexakis strummed his acoustic guitar while Josh Crawley played accordian and Sean Winchester kept time on tambourine. The band launched right into their set from there, with songs running from one to the next with little to no stopping. The photographers and security were equally confused with how many songs they had performed, so we were allowed to stay in the pit for longer than our allotted time. Everclear’s set felt the most like a hit parade: Father of Mine, Everything to Everyone, I Will Buy You a New Life. Guitarists posed epically for photos with a banner of the band’s name in the background, as if there would be confusion to who they were.
Alexakis mentioned earlier in the night during one of his introductions how happy he was that we were all in attendance that night, how the state of the music industry was so vastly different than it was when all of these bands were popular. He claimed that you couldn’t turn on the radio these days and expect to hear bands with as solid song writing and talent as we would hear this night. While I agree with that statement, I can’t remember the last time I actually chose to listen to the radio, I think the way we absorb new music has changed. There is just as much talent out there today, you just have to weed through massive amounts of music to find it. But hey, I shouldn’t rain on 90’s nostalgia’s parade.