Summerland Tour made a stop in Saint Louis for a trip down memory lane
The critically acclaimed annual event that is Summerland Tour 2016 stopped in Saint Louis July 31 for a performance at Ballpark Village at Busch Stadium.
It is a tour made up of various 1990’s alternative music acts. This year’s lineup features Sugar Ray as the headliner with mainstay Everclear in the top support slot, while Lit and Sponge round out the lineup.
The brainchild of Everclear’s front man Art Alexakis and Sugar Ray’s vocalist Marc McGrath, the annual Summerland Tour is a revival of 1990’s music. This is the fifth annual version of the tour and the second in which Sugar Ray has taken part, the first being the initial tour in 2012.
In Fact, for Lit and Sponge 2016 also marks their second appearance on the tour as well.
This year’s version hit Saint Louis in an outdoor setting for the first time. Set in the shadows of venerable Busch Stadium the way back machine roared to life, kicked off by a 30 minute set by Sponge which included their biggest song “Molly”, of course. Lead singer Vinnie Dombroski seemed to have an obsession with a red solo cup as he just held on to it for half the set while never seeming to take a drink from it. In fact, more liquid fell on the stage than in his mouth. Nevertheless, it was a good opening set from the Detroit-based band.
Lit followed with a lively 35 minute set highlighted by “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Miserable”. The band sounded great and was tight musically.
After serving as the headliner for each of the first four tours Everclear decided to give Sugar Ray the headlining slot for this year’s version. It was a nice change of pace for the tour.
Not that Everclear was bad or anything. On the contrary, they were superb, bending through on hour long set that featured “Father of Mine”, “Wonderful” and “Everything to Everyone”. Alexakis, as usual, introduced each of the bands, except for his own in which case McGrath did the honors. But Alexakis is the defacto emcee, and the title fit while Everclear was performing.
Beaming about the decade that was celebrated that night (the 1990’s) Axlexais still managed to throw in some influences of his own, by playing the opening guitar riff to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and proclaiming “I gotta have a bit of Led Zeppelin every day or I lose my mind.”
What a great influence to have.
Sugar Ray closed the show out with a spirited hour long performance that mixed in rock, reggae, dance and alternative. Front man Marc McGrath was most comfortable in the spotlight telling stories (some of the tall-tale variety, usually with a fun style).
One of the taller tales McGrath was spouting off was that his bassist Kristian Attard’s birthday was that night (which he later admitted it wasn’t) and the “fact” that Attard was directly responsible for the EMF hit “Unbelievable”. Surely anyone in attendance saw the correlation to the “unbelievable” tale McGrath was selling for the “Unbelievable” writing and recording credits for what a guy who would have been only 14 when it was released on the other side of the world from where he lived. Haha I loved the metaphor McGrath used when telling his tall tale about the song with the tall tale in its title. Brilliant.
McGrath was all over the stage, full of life and sounded great even while tackling the Ramones on “Mean Machine”/”Blitzkrieg Bop”. In a nod to self-profiling prophecy McGrath said a note to up and coming bands: Don’t call your last hit “When It’s Over”.
Lit, Everclear and Sugar Ray all hail from the same area (Southern California) and joked (and at one point bragged) about taking the football Rams back to Los Angeles. The comments, while intended to be lighthearted (I think) drew mixed reactions from the crowd. So much so that Alexakis playfully said “Oh shut up. We took them BACK. Remember, you took them from us first!” While lighthearted it seemed that ribbing from three bands back to back to back still may have been too much soon.
Overall, it was a nice blast from the past of 90’s music in a strong Saint Louis setting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to rekindle memories with great music next to baseball heaven?
The tour runs for the next month.
Sugar Ray Setlist:
Answer the Phone
What the World Needs
When It’s Over
Unbelievable (EMF cover)
Mean Machine/ Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones covers)