Every once in a great while one may feel the need to sit back and indulge in a show for entirely nostalgic reasons, and the Summerland tour provides the perfect chance to do just that.
Featuring Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground, the first annual Summerland tour has been hitting smaller theaters and arenas for the last few weeks and last night the show stopped at Tulsa’s SpiritBank Event Center for a few hours of the best pop-rock 1997 had to offer.
While the music of these bands is certainly not life-changing, each group had at least one song that had a stranglehold on the radio back in the mid to late 90s. With each band playing a quick 30-minute to hour long set, the show moved fast and it wasn’t out of place to hear those in the crowd exclaiming that they had forgotten a certain track existed before miraculously remembering the lyrics and singing along with the rest of the crowd.
The mostly forgettable Marcy Playground proved precisely why they never really stuck around with massive chart success, overstaying their welcome before finally pulling Sex and Candy out of its dusty grave. They didn’t sound bad by any means, but the songs just blended together and the band was content with simply playing the music and not offering much of a show for the crowd.
Lit actually had decent fan representation in the crowd and did a solid job during their set. Miserable and My Own Worst Enemy sounded precisely as they did back in the 90s, and singer A. Jay Popoff has seemingly perfected the art of fan/vocalist interaction.
The Gin Blossoms were up next, opening with Follow You Down and playing a string of hits that included Found Out About You, the Empire Records soundtrack staple ‘Til I Hear It From You and set closer Hey Jealousy. Vocalist Robin Wilson hopped down onto the barricade several times, causing a rash of smiles to break out in the pit while he took time to shake hands and give out tamborines for those in the first few rows.
Sugar Ray was easily the most entertaining show of the night, running through a quick 45-minute set that included Someday, When It’s Over and Fly. Mark McGrath made it clear he still loves to perform, and the band sounded rock solid for the length of their set. Bonus points for the band really bringing the 90s front and center by entering the stage to the Saved by the Bell theme and exiting to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opener.
Everclear was the final band to take the stage, but unfortunately Art Alexakis’ voice was in pretty rough shape. He had trouble sustaining his voice for any real length of time, and relied on his bassist and guitar player (and the audience) to cover most of the higher notes. He seemed to be having equipment trouble and was motioning to the guys at the soundboard for pretty much the entire set, but his voice seemed to be the only real problem. The crowd didn’t seem to mind being asked to handle the high notes, and it was still good to hear Father of Mine, I Will Buy You a New Life and AM Radio.
Ticket prices for Summerland are pretty cheap, so if you have fond memories of 90s radio rock or want an inexpensive way to briefly time-travel back to 1997, this tour is probably for you. Mark McGrath called this year the “first” several times throughout the show, indicating that it might just become a summer touring staple…. perhaps next year we’ll see a Spacehog/Third Eye Blind/Presidents of the United States of America lineup.
Check out the rest of our Summerland gallery: