“Summerland” brightens a rainy night with 90’s hits

A review of Sugar Ray, Everclear at Bank of America Pavilion on July 28, 2012

, Managing Editor

It’s been over twelve years since it was the 90’s and apparently that’s long enough for people to start reminiscing. It doesn’t take a lengthy web surf session for one to see that 90’s nostalgia is in right now, and Mark McGrath and Art Alexakis have surely taken note by hitting the road with the “Summerland” tour. McGrath, of Sugar Ray, and Alexakis of Everclear, brought their bands, along with Lit and Marcy Playground, to the Bank of America Pavilion on Saturday for a stop on their inaugural nostalgia tour.

McGrath and Alexakis not only performed, but also served as emcees of the show. It appears that this will be the inaugural tour, because there was already talk between sets of making “Summerland” a yearly occurrence. The format certainly works as the twosome built a show around great 90’s acts, playing short, hit-filled sets.

With both Sugar Ray and Everclear carrying the highest stature of the billed acts it was a wonder who would be the headliner. It turned out to be Everclear, who kept things lively, but their set suffered due to Alexakis’ strained-sounding vocals. Although faring better on “Wonderful”, when the band followed it by kicking into Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, one shivered at the thought of hearing Alexakis attempt to emulate Robert Plant. Luckily, it was mostly an instrumental medley until A. Jay Popoff from Lit joined in to sing “Rock N’ Roll”.

Sugar Ray would have been the better choice for the headliner, as McGrath proved to be the night’s best showman. The singer, and now “Extra” tv host, showed off his charm, keeping things light with jokes, stories and even a little game show. The latter came about when McGrath pulled two fans on stage and had them face off in a random karaoke battle, helping the amusing contestants through House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”. McGrath of course entertained with his own hits as well, getting fans to sing along with 90’s radio staples like “Fly”, “Every Morning” and “Someday”. The surprise of the set was the appearance of some “old school Sugar Ray” in the form of “Mean Machine”, which they segued into The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”, showing another side of the band with some punk rock.

Lit’s set started off shaky as the hard rock sound they began with with didn’t seem to fit what the audience was looking for. Most of teh band have been together for over 20 years now, but their set verified they haven’t grown up much as they jumped about like kids, spitting beer, and downing Jagermeister. Yet, with “The Broken” from their new album The View from the Bottom, the band showed signs of expansion with a 70’s rock sound, before closing out their set with their punk-pop gem “My Own Worst Enemy”.

Marcy Playground got the job done getting fans on their feet; lightly threatening that Lit would come out and physically stand everyone up if they remained seated. However, their set didn’t do much to enthuse the audience any further, until they capped things off with their quirky 1997 hit “Sex and Candy”.

Despite the heavy rain on Saturday night, fans came out and had a great time, with “Summerland” brightening up their night. The talk of making the tour an annual occurrence doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all considering McGrath and Alexakis will certainly find an audience… at least until the nostalgia bubble bursts.

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