Friday, October 25, 2013 The Gin Blossoms know exactly what they are, and they're good at it. During the summer they've been playing the nascent '90s nostalgia tour circuit, blowing through "Hey Jealousy" and "'Til I Hear It From You" and "Follow You Down" between the one-hit wonders and that year's headliner.
On tour by themselves, though--and particularly in Cave Creek Friday night--they open the setlist up, and they're good at that, too.
That means more New Miserable Experience, of course; "Found Out About You," sure, but also "Lost Horizons" and "Until I Fall Away." But it also means tracks from their comeback records, including 2009's No Chocolate Cake. The single, "Miss Disarray," and "Dead or Alive on the 405" and "Wave Bye Bye" come alive a little outside the gloss and the midtempo of the album, and fit perfectly well into a full-length Gin Blossoms set.
They lack the angst (masked badly by bravado) that characterizes everybody's idea of the best Gin Blossoms songs, but they sound right, and play to the band's strengths live.
On a package tour they're delegates from the early '90s; in Manilla, where they were earlier this month, they're Americans. In Cave Creek, outdoors in front of a packed Harold's Corral house, they were among fans, people for whom the band, and not just the songs, meant something.
So they talked about the desert, and the Fiesta Mall, and the high schools they'd gone tom and they got a reasonable proportion of the older audience out of their folding chairs and waving their arms.
And they didn't look very young or desperate. Which is good, because they aren't very young or desperate anymore. They've thought about (and answered questions about) Doug Hopkins and played Doug Hopkins songs for coming up on 20 years, and they've probably made their peace with both of those things.
If they still looked like these guys--
--they might kill on those '90s tours, but it would honestly be kind of weird.
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Critic's Notebook: Friday Night: Gin Blossoms outside Harold's Corral in Cave Creek. The Crowd: Pretty varied--and maybe a little older than you'd think. The Opener: Jared and the Mill is good enough at what they do to make you wonder aloud why Arizona hasn't taken a larger role in the popularization of the Mumford-and-Stuff sound, and the Cave Creek crowd definitely dug it. Personal Bias: I saw "Hey Jealousy" on a Family Video display TV 15 years ago, and tried desperately to figure out what it was called on AOL later that day. Overheard: "Mrs. Rita!! Mrs. Ritaaa!!!!!" (They didn't.) Notebook dump: Robin Wilson doesn't have the range he did years ago, but in most of these songs the key is just that he sounds like Robin Wilson.