August 8, 2016 Summerland Tour Makes Epic Returns To The Paramount Huntington, NY 7-22-16
In the 1993 film Dazed and Confused, a character named Cynthia Dunn explains the “every-other-decade theory” stating, “The fifties were boring. The sixties rocked. And the seventies—oh my God, they obviously suck. Come on! Maybe the eighties will be radical.” It would be very interesting to see what Cynthia and the rest from Lee High School would think of the nineties in 2016. That being said, the 1990s was a booming period for Rock-n-Roll where Grunge, Alternative Rock, and Metal blossomed to major success. Many would say, it was the last decade that Rock-n-Roll actually had an identity.
Signature parts of the Alternative Rock scene at the time, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath and Everclear’s Art Alexakis are not only musicians, but students of Rock-n-Roll. So much so that McGrath now moonlights as a DJ on SiriusXM’s ’90s on 9 and Alexakis has been quoted as saying he does not go a day without rocking out to some Led Zeppelin. Thus it would stand to reason the two would join forces to create a tour in honor of the nineties, a tour they like to call Summerland Tour. Now celebrating its fifth year, 2016’s edition sees McGrath and Alexakis reunite for the first time since 2012 while bringing back alumni Summerland acts such as Lit and Sponge. What has become a summer tradition for many, the tour arrived at The Paramount in Huntington, New York on Friday, July 22nd, for the first time since 2014.
Excited to jump-start the weekend with some Rock, fans filled up the venue quickly as Sponge kicked the party off. With their own tour swinging around the nearby Amityville’s Revolution Bar back in April, many fans in attendance were familiar faces for the Detroit, Michigan Rock band. Led by Vocalist Vinnie Dombroski since 1991, the current lineup around him includes Kyle Neely (guitar), Andy Patalan (guitar/vocals), Tim Patalan (bass), and Billy Adams (drums). Last releasing a fantastic record in 2013, entitled Stop the Bleeding, Sponge is scheduled to offering up a brand new record later this year, entitled The Beer Sessions.
As tradition, before Sponge could grace the stage, Alexakis came out to greet the crowd and introduce the band. This kind of comradery between the bands would be shown throughout the night and added an extra layer of warmth to the whole event. Exiting the stage, Sponge took over, opening to loud cheers for the cut “Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina).” As the song came to an end, the curious Dombroski asked if there were any Sponge fans in the crowd, a question that was answered with even more amplified cheering. Always know as a firecracker of a frontman, he enthusiastically stated, “Tonight is a good night of music” before the band continued with“Molly (16 Candles Down the Drain)” and new song, “Jump While The House Is On Fire.” Giving fans the power of choice, the band had them select the last two tracks, first being another newbie entitled “The Whores Are Closing In,” and second, the favorite hit, “Plowed.” With an energetic live show and The Beer Sessions on the horizon, Sponge looks and sounds as good as they did twenty plus years ago.
As Sponge left the stage, the crew went to work, revealing the banner for the next act, Lit. Hailing from Fullerton, California, the band enjoyed tremendous success at the tail end of the ’90s with their 1999 album, A Place in the Sun, which skyrocketing them into stardom. Helped by a list of hits, they earned a Billboard Music Award for Modern Rock Song of 1999. Following with Atomic in 2001 and their self-titled record in 2004, the band would tragically lose their drummer and friend Allen Shellenberger to a brain tumor in 2009. A tough time for the surviving members, Bassist/Vocalist Kevin Baldes, Vocalist A. Jay Popoff, Guitarist/Vocalist Jeremy Popoff, Guitarist/Keyboardist Ryan Gillmor, and Drummer Terry Stirling Jr. continue to go strong years later with plans of new music in the future.
Fittingly opening with “Welcome to the Party,” Lit brought with them an action-packed set. Feeding off the audience’s energy, they moved into the hit “Zip-Lock” before rocking out to “Back With You.” Mixing a variety of old tracks with newer ones, they provided the crowd a perfect retrospective of the career of Lit. Then, inviting everyone to sing along with the favorite “Miserable,” not a voice was silent during the chorus. A heartwarming moment to experience, A. Jay followed by happily announcing that the band was continuing work on a new album. The cheers only grew more thunderous when A. Jay questioned if the crowd would be interested in hearing it. Before beginning the new song, titled “Fast,” A. Jay raised a full bottle of red wine, saluted the crowd, as they devoured the opening riff. It was a song like nothing else on their offerings, almost having more of a Country feel, yet somehow maintains Lit’s style. Continuing on with “Four,” they closed out with “My Own Worst Enemy” as everyone sang at the top of their lungs.
Much like Sponge before them, Lit’s announcement of an upcoming album along with a sampling of what is to come gave fans lots to look forward to. With an unstoppable energy level, Lit’s live performance proves this band has plenty more left in the tank.
With half the show in the bag, the attention was now turned to Everclear. Originally out of Portland, Oregon, Everclear has been rocking since 1991 and all thanks to the tenacity of Mr. Art Alexakis. With major mainstream success on 1995’s Sparkle and Fade, 1997’s So Much The Afterglow, and 2000’s Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile, 2015 saw Everclear churn out one of their best Rock albums to date, Black is the New Black. Now with the lineup of Guitarist Dave French, Bassist Freddy Herrera, Keyboardist Josh Crawley, and touring Drummer Brian Nolan, Alexakis’ Everclear is ready to rumble.
With Alexakis unable to introduce his own band, McGrath had the honor as he clearly seemed proud to be on the tour this year. Then, without further ado, to a loud ovation, Everclear took the stage, opening with “So Much for the Afterglow.” A jolting opening, it continued at full speed ahead with the unmistakable guitar tone of “Everything to Everyone” and adored hit “Father of Mine.” With the crowd reeling for more, the band continued with “Wonderful,” and the hit parade kept everyone moving.
Thanking fans for coming out, to everyone’s delight they brought out “AM Radio” and older track “Heroin Girl.” Then keeping everyone engaged, “I Will Buy You a New Life” saw everyone singing along in unison with Alexakis. Even Sponge’s Dombroski could not keep away from the action, joining the band on stage with a set of maracas to assist with them as they closed out with “Santa Monica.” A set that seemed to fly by in minutes, Everclear happily greeted fans and signed autographs at their merchandise booth upon the show’s conclusion. The band did a fine job of offering up songs from all throughout their discography, and keep the good vibrations coming.
This lead to the fourth and final act of the night, the one and only Sugar Ray. Begun as a Funk Metal band, Sugar Ray would become one of the leaders of the Pop Rock genres in the late ’90s upon the release of their sophomore album 14:59 in 1999. A further progression of the new style they began to tap into with 1997’s Floored, Sugar Ray continued to dominate charts well into the new millennium. With Lead Guitarist/Vocalist Rodney Sheppard and aforementioned Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Mark McGrath remaining as the only original members of Sugar Ray, the band continues on strongly.
Like Everclear prior, keeping focused on the hits, Sugar Ray opened up with “Someday” before hyping up the crowd with salutations and fun stories. Never forgetting how to work a crowd, McGrath actually has honed the skill over the years as they continued on with “Answer the Phone” and “Every Morning.” After playing “What the World Needs,” McGrath joked with everyone, stating never to title a song “When It’s Over,” as it might become a self-fulfilling prophecy being a band’s last hit.
The hijinks continued as McGrath eluded that the night marked the birthday of touring bassist Kristian Attard before the band played a perfect cover of EMF’s “Unbelievable.” Still being very playful, McGrath led the Long Island crowd in a Marilyn Monroe-style “Happy Birthday” to Attard. Turning up the heat,“Mean Machine” kept everyone jumping before McGrath invited them to pump their fists as they jammed out Ramones’ classic, “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Tossing a few t-shirts out to the hungry crowd, they dedicated their finale to the men and women of the armed forces, which was met with a loud “USA!” chant. Of course, there was only one way to finish off a Sugar Ray show, and that was with the hit that started it all, “Fly.” An exciting moment, spicing up the pot even more, Sugar Ray added in a little snippet from Sublime’s “What I Got,” making sure the audience was on their toes.
Much like a visit to the beach or a barbecue with friends, a trip to see the Summerland Tour should be on everyone’s summer to-do list. Each year, the tour brings well-known household names together for a Rock show that celebrates the past, but also showcases the new music. This is more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this is a tour showcasing that these acts should not be left in the dust, and they are still some of the best Rock bands around today.