The event known as Summerland landed in Rochester, NY albeit a few days late. The show was originally scheduled for Thursday, July 26 but due to pending forecasts for bad weather everyone decided it was in the best interest to reschedule the show. The day could’ve been less humid, but the sunshine blasted throughout Sahlen’s Stadium quite nicely, making those involved with reshuffling the show looking like geniuses. Whoever said the music of the nineties were dreadful and depressing? Welcome to Summerland, a tour that gathers bands from the nineties and was a brainstorm of Everclear’s Art Alexakis and Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath.
Marcy Playground started off the gala with a thirty minute set that concluded with “Sex And Candy”, a song that McGrath called perhaps the biggest song from the 90’s. Marcy Playground still features founding members guitarist, vocalist John Wozniak and bassist Dylan Keefe. This band seemed to be the perfect choice to get the ball rolling.
Up next came Lit, the band from Orange County, Ca. As McGrath and Alexakis introduced them, they mentioned how this band appeared on both of their lists of bands as they called it a “no brainer”. There was no arguing that statement as the band played a short thirty minute inspired set themselves that closed with their gem “My Own Worst Enemy”. Singer A. Jay Popoff along with his brother Jeremy were joined by original bassist Kevin Baldes. Drummer Nathan Walker and keyboardist, guitarist Ryan Gillmor rounded out the band.
The Gin Blossoms took the stage with “Follow You Down” a standout track from their mega album New Miserable Experience. While all the bands sets were very good, The Gin Blossoms set contained the most hits and had the crowd’s attention from start to finish. Vocalist Robin Wilson led the band along with co-founder and bassist Bill Leen, guitarists Jesse Valanzuela and Scotty Johnson, and last but not least new drummer Scott Hessel. Other highlights of their set included “Til I Hear It From You”, “Allison Road” and “Found Out About You”. The band properly finished their set with the classic “Hey Jealousy”.
Sugar Ray were what I called the surprise of the night. Not being too familiar with Mark McGrath and company, they delivered a set that kept the interest of the crowd. The band also featured a bizarre karaoke spot where two fans from the crowd were brought up and both walked away with prizes. The highlight of their all too brief forty-five minute set was “Answer The Phone”. McGrath knows how to keep a crowd into a show, despite Sugar Ray not being out on a full blown tour in almost ten years.
Everclear were the final band of the evening and by the time they took the stage it was dark as they performed under the starry sky. Starting off with “Father Of Mine”. The band just recently released their eighth studio album Invisible Stars. From that album the band brought out Gin Blossoms singer Wilson to help sing the new track “Be Careful What You Ask For”. What Everclear set would be complete without the stellar “I Will Buy You A New Life”? The band pulled out all the stops and brought out A. Jay from Lit to sing the Led Zeppelin cover “Rock & Roll”. Alexakis was not done as members from the four other bands came out to bring the show home with the song that carried Everclear into mainstream success “Santa Monica”.
There were two things that made this show very rewarding and unique. The first was how McGrath and Alexakis together came out and introduced each band as they took the stage then also introduced each other’s bands. The other was the very small changeover time in between sets. I think the longest time was fifteen minutes between Sugar Ray and Everclear.
With so many artists out touring the summer circuit, one never can predict how a tour will do. This tour kind of hid in the weeds, but has turned into the “sleeper” show of the summer. Remember this is coming from someone who had never seen any of these bands before this evening. Talk from Alexakis and McGrath is they are hoping to make this more than just a one time only project. Judging from how well this show went over with the fans, if there is a Summerland 2013 tour, you can bet it will be bigger and even better than this one which will be saying something. I know the folks who missed this years show are still kicking themselves.
Father Of Mine
Everything To Everyone
I Will Buy You A New Life
Be Careful What You Ask For
Rock & Roll (Led Zep cover w/ A.J. Popoff of Lit)
Santa Monica (w/ members of all bands)
Wipe Out (Safaris Cover)
Answer The Phone
When It’s Over
Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones Cover)
Follow You Down
Until I Fall Away
Found Out About You
A Million Miles Away
‘Til I Hear It From You
Miss You Gone
Lipstick And Bruises
My Own Worst Enemy
Rock And Roll Heroes
Deadly Handsome Man
Saint Joe On The School Bus
Punk Rock Superstar
Sex And Candy
Special Thanks to John and Max from Spinlab for allowing us to review this show.