Summerland Tour at Comerica Theatre, 7/3/12

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Sugar Ray really dialed in the nostalgia as the band took the stage to the Saved by the Bell theme song. The band covered "Wipeout" as Mark McGrath appeared in Raybans, a white suit, and a skinny tie, which seemed better than what he described as his Justin Bieber vest from earlier. McGrath talked a lot, claiming that he "lost a girl in Arizona to some jock. His name was Jake Plummer." He introduced "Every Morning" as the most popular song of 1999, which in fact isn't true. It may have been Sugar Ray's biggest single, but the biggest hit of the year technically was "Baby One More Time," though it would have been pretty hilarious to hear Sugar Ray's take on Britney Spears. Oddly enough, they did play a cover, from what McGrath described as "the greatest fucking rock band of all time," being The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop."

He revealed that his relationship with his wife of 18-years ended before the show via iPhone message, so he looked forward to meeting some of the "chickies" in Arizona, adding that "when you're young, you don't know what love is," introducing "When It's Over."

McGrath's constant attempts at hyping the crowd were a little obnoxious, but it ended well. He mentioned that tomorrow was the 4th of July and dedicated "Fly" to the troops (weird, I know), then got in the crowd and handed off the microphone to a bunch of tone deaf singers for a couple lines of "Fly."

Everclear, or "one of the most prolific songwriters of our era," according to McGrath, closed out the evening with hit songs in a strange set. The band now includes a keyboardist, which adds an interesting touch to the songs. Art Alexakis didn't seem that into being on stage, but hey, at least they played a bunch of So Much for the Afterglow tunes. As the band opened with the title track, I couldn't help but think that seeing them live was nothing like the scene in Loser. Alexakis mentioned that "if you don't have family, you're fucked" before introducing "Father of Mine," closing out three songs from Afterglow.

He asked if there are any old school Everclear fans out there, namely fans of Sparkle and Fade. Thankfully, a bunch of fans cheered as the band performed "Heroin Girl," which lacked enthusiasm. Alexakis talked through the lyrics and didn't seem to care much that it was "just another overdose," but then again, there were some microphone issues, so maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

In contrast to Mark McGrath's lady problems, Alexakis took a moment to talk about his family- his wife is from Tucson and he has a daughter named Arizona. He wasn't going to see his wife for a week or so, so he decided to play a "song about love" that he said is very special to him, "I Will Buy You A New Life."

There were conflicting messages during the piano intro to "Wonderful," as Alexakis requested a dance party and the bassist lead a clap. The song is kind of a bummer to begin with, but the piano made it sound that much sadder. The group closed with what seemed to be the moment that everyone was waiting for all night, "Santa Monica."

The house lights came back on, "Blister in the Sun" began to play, about half of the audience left, and Alexakis came back on stage for what appeared to be an unplanned encore. He invited a bunch of girls on stage and asked the band to play something funky. He asked the 15 or so girls on stage to dance as the band covered "867-5309/Jenny." An odd choice, indeed, especially as Alexakis stopped the song and chastised some girl named Samantha for not dancing.

And that was it, Summerland was over without Everclear performing the song "Summerland." The Gin Blossoms had the most solid set by far, performing what sounded almost exactly like the recorded versions of their songs. The show was a good stroll down memory lane, though I couldn't help but wonder if these bands sounded any better 10 years ago.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum