Summerland Tour at South Side Ballroom, 7/11/14
Courtesy the artist Art Alexakis, looking the same as you always remember him
WIth Everclear, Soul Asylum, Eve 6 and Spacehog
South Side Ballroom, Dallas
Friday, July 11, 2014
The 1990s and early 2000s weren't exactly the golden years of rock music, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't plenty of it. As bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden and Hole set out to redefine our notions of what rock music was, plenty of poppier hangers-on emerged. Sure, the genre has its high points, but most of these bands were more Top 40 than rock 'n' roll. The most tenacious of these wannabe rockers is Everclear's Art Alexakis, the organizer of Friday night's stop of the Summerland Tour at Dallas' South Side Ballroom.
Alexakis is clearly in the business of reliving his glory days, as proven by the successful third year of the Summerland Tour. In previous incarnations of Alexakis' nostalgic brainchild, '90s mainstays like Marcy Playground, Sugar Ray and Gin Blossoms have joined Everclear on the tour. This year, Eve 6, Soul Asylum, and Spacehog filled the bill, in a largely underwhelming fashion.
Exactly 27 minutes into their set, Spacehog was wrapping up for the night. Everyone in the audience sang along with all the words of "In The Meantime," Spacehog's only vaguely memorable hit from their 1996 debut album. They may have been one of the more underrated (read: less terrible) alt-rock bands in the 1990s, but the crowd had little enthusiasm for hearing more from Spacehog. They were, however, super pumped for the upcoming set from Eve 6.
After breaking up in 2004 and going through a few line-up changes in the following years, Eve 6's original members are all touring together once again. "Inside Out," known to most of us as the "tender heart in a blender song," was one of the higher points. There's something that almost makes you feel like you're back in seventh grade wearing Doc Marten sandals again when you hear a song like this being performed live, even if it isn't exactly a masterpiece. In the half-hour that Eve 6 had the stage, though, the set was more dominated by chatter from lead singer and bassist Max Collins than it was any new work or interesting music. It seems as if the guys from Eve 6 are perfectly content falling back on their two-hit-wonder laurels.
A short but musically intense performance from Soul Asylum was the high point of the evening, if somewhat tepidly received by the audience. "Misery," a commentary on manufactured American malaise, is still as trenchant as it was in 1995. "Runaway Train" and "Black Gold" were equally enjoyable to listen to, as the audience's collective brains felt these 20-year-old lyrics flood back with surprising ease. Frontman Dan Pirner is still rocking the same haircut, dirty sneakers and vocal quality that made these guys famous, so that could have had something to do with the strong of those recollections. Guest spots from Alexakis and Collins were forgettable, especially compared to the strong vocal performance from Pirner.
After a particularly long stage change, Everclear took the stage to the most enthusiasm from the crowd all night long. The set opened with "Santa Monica," arguably the band's best recording. The most well-known track, though, was "Father of Mine," which was convenient considering that Alexakis let the crowd sing most of the lyrics. It was at this point that I realized that he was still wearing a wallet chain, so it wasn't too surprising that the band's new tracks that followed didn't sound much different than they did in the 1990s.
Alexakis also took a moment to introduce the band's members because no one in the crowd knew who the fuck they were. He's the only remaining member of the original Everclear line-up, but the band really sounded no different. Granted, that's likely because the only defining thing about Everclear is Alexakis' always-recognizable voice and emotional lyrics.
Everclear ended the evening with "Wonderful," an upbeat-but-sad song about children adjusting to divorce. This song was released in 2000, one of the last times that Everclear really had any chart relevance. Alternative rock has continued to fall apart since the early-2000s, but maybe that's because it was always pretty forgettable as a genre. Still, the Class of 1996 had an excellent time rocking out to the melodic sounds of these four acts on Friday night, so expect to see plenty more incarnations of the Summerland Tour in the future.