The Summerland Tour passed through Canalside on Thursday, and man, it was just plain strange – all of it.
Headlined by power-pop/alternative outfit Everclear, the show also featured nu-metal stalwarts Fuel, and pop-punk band American Hi-Fi. The connection among the bands on the bill was tenuous at best. The large crowd ate it up, however. This was interesting, since many of those in attendance either weren’t yet born or were small children when Everclear’s “So Much For the Afterglow” was an album that people cared about.
Package tours like Summerland are meant to gather bands incapable of drawing tens of thousands of people on their own, and to simultaneously play the nostalgia card. In this case, the nostalgia was for the ’90s, an era most people who lived through would probably rather forget. Why relive it?
Money. There’s some left to squeeze out of folks who lived through it once, and others for whom that era seems exotic, even though it really wasn’t. And Summerland had its musical charms, to be sure.
Most of those charms came from headliner Everclear, the Art Alexakis-led power-pop/punk outfit that, sadly, was an also-ran in the ’90s rock sweepstakes. Alexakis has had a hard go of it – drug issues – but has endured, and led Everclear through a return-to-form album last year, in the form of the barn-storming “Black is the New Black.” Some of the album was played for the masses on Thursday, but much of the set was given over to Everclear’s biggest songs, among them “Heroin Girl” and “Heartspark Dollarsign,” both of which were delivered with vigor, despite the fact that Alexakis appeared to be in a – well, let’s just call it a loose state.
Alexakis may have been a little bit the worse for wear, and he was performing with a knee-high brace on his right leg, but he was backed by a band whose members had come loaded for bear. Guitarist Davey French tore it up all night. The rhythm section of bassist Freddy Herrera and drummer Sean Winchester laid it down hard and heavy and relentlessly solid. Keyboardist Josh Crawley appeared to be leading the band often, and Alexakis sang his praises.
I’d give Everclear a solid B for its performance, and Fuel earned about the same, even though its music has much more in common with bands like Creed and Disturbed than it does with the sort of alt/post-punk favored by Everclear. Singer/guitarist Brett Scallions – known to area audiences as the guy who temporarily attempted to fill Jim Morrison’s shoes with the surviving Doors, during a positively awful show in Lockport several years back – was in good form throughout, and the crowd responded well to the band’s modern rock/alt-metal hybrid.
American Hi-Fi started things off with a set of pop-punk tunes in the vein of Blink-182 and early Green Day. The crowd, already fairly massive by this point, seemed to appreciate the snarky sing-along quality of the band’s tunes. There was nothing offensive about any of this, but it wasn’t particularly jaw-dropping either. Rather run-of-the-mill pop-punk was offered, and appreciated, apparently.