Everclear: Still Intoxicating in Middle Age

Vortex Music Magazine

In his hometown in front of a sold-out audience, a 52-year-old Art Alexakis and his Summerland 2014 crew rocked the Crystal Ballroom on July 22.

Art Alexakis of Everclear feeling at home on the Crystal Ballroom stage. Photos by Christina Bargel.Art Alexakis of Everclear feeling at home on the Crystal Ballroom stage. Photos by Christina Bargel.

The first concert I ever went to was Everclear. It was 1995, right after the album Sparkle and Fade came out, and they played in one of the nastiest, grittiest, smokiest bars in Orlando, Fla. I won the tickets on the radio and my mom took me to the show because I was only 10 years old. The show changed my life.

The band’s performance on Tuesday night in 2014 may not have been as intense, but it proved that Art Alexakis, the only original member in the group, can still muster some youthful energy—something that definitely can’t be said for every 52-year-old musician.

The night started off with a singalong, acoustic version of “Santa Monica” featuring an accordion, tambourine and guitar. Of course, the audience clapped along to “Wonderful” and went especially wild for “Heroin Girl.” Alexakis dedicated “I Will Buy You a New Life” to his family, saying, “This is not a song about money—it’s a song about love.” The Portland audience understood the message and also the lyrical reference to the “house way up in the West Hills,” an allusion to the affluent West Hills of the Rose City.

For some of the audience, it was nice to hear two jammy guitar solos between songs. The crowd also appreciated the 10-minute band member introductions during the encore, with each member playing an extended solo riff from Queen or Led Zeppelin. With my roots still firmly planted in ‘95, my only critique is that I wish they would have played more songs off of Sparkle and Fade—they only played two.

Yet, the encore was the highlight of the show. Not only did they play their punk-driven “So Much for the Afterglow,” but the set-ending full version of “Santa Monica” was a ‘90s alt radio all-star mob featuring members from openers SpacehogSoul Asylum and Eve 6 (with Max Collins sharing the chorus below).

And in between the two, Everclear even played “Fire Maple Song” (below), a lesser-known track from their first album, World of Noise. Alexakis knows how to please his home stadium—what else would you expect from a guy with the words “Portland, OR” taped on his guitar?

At one point Alexakis said to the audience, “I’ve been trying to bring the Summerland Tour to Portland for the past two years and now we are finally here!” With the sold-out crowd and the high-energy show, Alexakis will likely bring his ‘90s circus to town again—at least the 10-year-old inside me hopes so.

The sold-out Crystal crowd for the 2014 Summerland Tour.The sold-out Crystal crowd for the 2014 Summerland Tour.

Set List
Santa Monica [Acoustic]
El Distorto de Melodica
Everything to Everyone
Father of Mine
Heroin Girl
The Man Who Broke His Own Heart [New Song]
Wonderful
AM Radio
I Will Buy You a New Life

Encore
So Much for the Afterglow
Fire Maple Song
Santa Monica

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