Scott Lucas (guitar, vocals) and Ryan Harding (drums, vocals) are the entirety of Local H, which was a surprise to me. I have always been a fan of a few of their songs from the 90s, but never dug deep or cared much for them in general. For a band with just two guys – one of which (Scott) is 31 years in as a founding member – to sound this loud, heavy, and complete was impressive. With all due respect to Ryan, who was picked up about ten years ago to play drums and does so very well, this is Scott’s show and he is carrying the weight magnificently. This band’s set was raucous, energetic, and lots of fun. For about 40 minutes they truly rocked it and were the highlight of the night for me, hands down.
Everyone has heard “Bound for the Floor”, even if you don’t know the song or the band by name. that guitar riff and the use of the word copacetic are mainstays of mid-90s rock and when they got around to playing that song, most of the crowd had a visible “oooohhhhhh its those guys” moment. Ironically, this was not even in the top 5 best songs they played, but it sure did get the crowd going.
At one point, the drummers for the other two bands came out and we got to hear Scott shred with not one, not two, but three drummers. Truly badass. In the picture you can see them a if you squint hard enough – you can also see their backdrop says “Straight Outta Zion”, a reference to Scott’s hometown of Zion, IL.
These guys may technically be another “one hit” 90s band, but they also have some other worthwhile music. My knowledge of them is limited to their eponymous 1997 debut that featured the huge hit that was “Sex and Candy”, but that may not be the only reason that album went platinum. The leadoff track “Poppies” is my favorite of the bunch, and was their set opener.
This was much more melodic, mellow, and borderline Mom-rock than Local H but their setlist did follow a similar formula – play a few songs actual fans know but save the money shot for about 2/3 of the way through. When they started into “Sex and Candy”, the crowd – who seemed basically unaware who these guys were – lost their minds and began dancing like lunatics. People are funny that way, they really, really like music they know and have heard a million times. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of favorites also, but something about watching them play their way through that song for the thousandth time was not as exciting as the rest of the show.
Oh, and one final note: their drummer is pretty solid. He playing was top notch, he had a sweet Rocky/Mr. T shirt on, and a toy rat on his kit that he beat mercilessly throughout the evening. Good and goofy times.
At its best, Art Alexakis’s music has always straddled the 90s grunge rock sound and more mainstream hooky, radio friendly pop-rock, with more than a touch of personal angst and “me versus the world” mentality. Through the last 25 years the band has built up an impressive catalogue and a big enough fanbase to support an annual Summerland Tour in which Art recruits a few smaller 90s bands to come along for what is basically a travelling nostalgia festival. I first saw Everclear in 2016 at the same venue when Summerland included Eve 6, Soul Asylum, and Spacehog.
On this night, there were far fewer people in attendance and less genuine energy from Everclear and the crowd – the whole affair felt more than a little forced. Not that they didn’t play the hits, and not for a lack of Art trying to get the crowd pumped up and sing along. Some did, but of the few hundred people in attendance, most seemed to be going through the motions – myself included. In truth, I was there for the two openers – having seen Everclear before I was somewhat indifferent to seeing them again. However, I had good company with me and stuck around to see the entire show.
Not coincidentally, they opened with “Summerland”, the tour’s namesake. They then proceeded to play eleven more songs, heavy on their best known music from the late 90s. After a very brief encore break that included a fairly tepid audience response, they closed predictably with “Santa Monica”, which is hands down their best song and I will accept no argument on that point. In all, ten of the 13 songs were from two of their albums: Sparkle and Fade and So Much for the Afterglow. It’s not that they sounded bad – they didn’t. It’s not that Art and crew were not trying to bring the house down – they were. It just seems to me that the magic is over for these guys, and the annual touring as a legacy act has worn thin. Having said that, if they can bring in a few bands from my childhood that I haven’t seen with them next year, I will probably go – but might leave before the headliner takes the stage.
Everything to Everyone
The Man Who Broke His Own Heart
Normal Like You
Father of Mine
I Will Buy You a New Life