On Friday night, I caught the Summerland Tour - featuring Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground - at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Despite only being the second date of the Nineties-oriented rock tour, everything ran smoothly, The first two acts got about a half hour onstage and the other three were approximately 45 minutes each. Marcy Playground started at 7 p.m. sharp and Everclear ended right at 11 p.m. due to curfew. The changeover between sets was a mercifully brief 15 minutes.
Affable tour organizers (the moniker comes from an old Everclear tune) Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Art Alexakis of Everclear introduced every band and talked about how the idea originated. That was a nice surprise because it rarely happens. Usually a headliner will come out at the beginning of an opening act's set to introduce and never reappear again.
Marcy Playground turned in a solid set highlighted by The Cars'-ish "Rock and Roll Heroes" and "Up & Down," a previously unreleased song from the new odds 'n' sods collection Lunch, Recess & Detention.
Orange County, Calif. alt-rockers Lit came out with all guns blazing. Frontman A. Jay Popoff really worked at getting the crowd pumped up with several "rawk" anthems. Their nod to Ric Ocasek and Co. was more direct: a snatch of The Cars' "Just What I Needed" was inserted into "The Last Time Again."
Gin Blossoms got a rousing response for the crop of pleasantly jangly pop/rock tunes which all seemed to blend together until a brawny cover of The Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away."
Sugar Ray entered to the theme from TV's "Saved by the Bell" and started with an instrumental before "Someday" (which transitioned back and forth into Young Rascals' "Groovin'"). Later, an amped up "Mean Machine" segued into The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." When McGrath brought two young male fans onstage to do a karaoke battle - a frequent stunt at Sugar Ray shows - the momentum came to a grounding halt. I don't think it was a good idea, especially on a show with truncated sets. While watching Sugar Ray, I thought I'd miss the other original musicians, but I didn't. The guys McGrath & Sheppard assembled for this tour were really tight.
Everclear came across ragged, but Alexakis sang with conviction. He even explained the meanings behind some old songs. The hands-down highlight was "Be Careful What You Ask For," from the excellent new album Invisible Stars.
Poppies/Devil Woman/Rock and Roll Heroes/--/Up & Down/St. Joe on the School Bus/Punk Rock Superstar/Sex & Candy/It's Saturday
Four/You Tonight/Last Time Again/Miserable/Zip-Lock/The Broken/My Own Worst Enemy
Follow You Down/Until I Fall Away/Miss Disarray/Found Out About You/Alison Road/A Million Miles Away/Until I Hear it From You/Hey Jealousy
--/Someday/Answer the Phone/Every Morning/Falls Apart/When It's Over/Mean Machine>Blitzkrieg Bop/Fly
So Much for the Afterglow/Father of Mine/AM Radio/Everything to Everyone/Heroin Girl/I Will Buy You a New Life/Be Careful What You Ask For/Wonderful/Santa Monica