Everclear, Local-H and Marcy PlayGround !!
Let me preface this by saying I’m not a professional at concert critique. I’m just a guy whose musical tastes developed in the 90s, a guy who DJed a crappy college radio show a few hours a week (shoutout to WBKE at Manchester College…errr…University) in 1998 and 1999.
But due to a confluence of events, I had the opportunity to return to Piere’s Entertainment Center for the first time in about a dozen years for the Summerland Tour, featuring Everclear, Marcy Playground and Local H. And I left the venue with ears ringing, heart happy and having listened to over three hours of outstanding live music at a show that would have made 20 years ago me do backflips.
Let’s start with ticket acquisition. On a whim, I shared a Facebook post from Alt 99.5 about the concert saying it’d be a cool early birthday present (an aside, how the heck am I almost 40?!), then a week or so later received a call that I’d won a pair of tickets to the show. Fortuitous happening No. 1, followed closely by No. 2, as acquiring child care for the evening proved little trouble thanks to my mother-in-law volunteering to take my boys for the night.
Fast forward to Thursday night. I talked a longtime friend (and fellow WBKE alum, who co-hosted the S & M show for three years) into attending the concert with me. It didn’t take much arm-twisting. We decided to grab some pre-show wings, but due to some kitchen staffing issues, o
ur food didn’t arrive for nearly an hour. With a 7 p.m. showtime listed on the tickets and wings presented to us around 7:20, I feared that we had missed the opening band.
Fear not! After finishing supper quickly, we arrived at the venue around 7:40 to the sounds of Local H taking the stage (Fortuitous happening No. 3 – we didn’t miss a thing!). I’d seen this band previously, though it was about 20 years and many more beers ago. The one takeaway from that last concert – how on God’s green Earth a two-man band could create that much sound?
They still have it. Holy cow, do they still have it. One guitar, one drummer, and they absolutely punch you in the face – or in the chest with the drums pounding through the speakers – with just how much sound they can produce. A bit angst-ridden, and just as good as I can remember.
The highlight? Bringing three drummers on stage for a song. A fun moment for the crowd, and it appeared the musicians enjoyed it too.
Marcy Playground took the stage next, and it was at that precise moment that I realized I hadn’t missed any bands. I don’t know if anyone around noticed the proverbial lightbulb going off in my toddler-addled brain, but a huge smile spread across my face at that time.
Their more poppy sound stood in contrast to what Local H brought, but it presented a bit of smart lineup presentation. Hit the fans with the hot opener, bring them back down a little bit and then crescendo for the headliner. We got the big hit – Sex and Candy, which received so much airplay during my time at WBKE that our station manager issued a mandate to cut it back – and we got a band that would be great doing an acoustic Sunday morning set. At least that’s how I envisioned it.
The highlight? Dishwalla’s bassist filled in on the show. I’m not aware if it’s a tour-long thing or just to cover a couple dates, but that was a neat realization. I wish they would have covered Counting Blue Cars, as it would have fit perfectly with the tour concept, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Everclear wrapped up the night by playing several of the hits from Sparkle and Fade, their 1995 smash album that really brought the band into the national alternative scene. They mixed in a couple newer tunes as well, and Art Alexakis and crew knew how to work the crowd. Alexakis should receive tremendous credit for putting together the Summerland concept, helping bands and fans reconnect after some years apart.
The highlight? Hearing the 500 or so fans in attendance singing along to several of their old favorites, then seeing Local H join them on stage to close things out.