(Originally published on Examiner.com on November 2, 2015)
It has been 20 years since the release of Everclear’s seminal album, “Sparkle and Fade.” To celebrate the occasion, the band has embarked on a U.S. tour to play the entire album for the fans that made the album what it is. On Monday, October 26, the tour kicked off at New York’s B.B. King Blues Club for a raucous night of rock music.
Although not Everclear’s first album (that would be “World of Noise”), “Sparkle and Fade” is the album that launched the band’s career. Containing some of the band’s most well-known songs, including “Summerland,” “Strawberry” and, arguably the band’s biggest hit, “Santa Monica,” it is an album that has taken on a life of its own. Released on Capitol Records in 1995, the album was not a hit with the label because it wasn’t recorded to their standards. From the stage, singer and sole original member of the band Art Alexakis thanked the fans for being the ones who did make the album a hit and understanding that the band was making the album that they wanted to make. ‘Sparkle and Fade’ paved the way for Alexakis to write more hits and gain more fans.
Everclear are no stranger to nostalgia tours. Alexakis is the creator and curator of the Summerland tour, which features bands whose biggest hits occurred in the 1990s and are still actively creating music today.
Opening Monday’s show was local hard rock band Syka, who, with their KISS-esque eye paint and loud guitars, got everyone riled up. For the amount of camp and show that the band puts on, they are actually really good musicians. Singer Jessyka’s voice has fantastic tone to it, holding up not just through the hard rock songs, but the slower, more melodic ones as well. Lead guitarist Gregg Sgar’s finger work is impressive when he shreds.
Also impressive was the main tour support band Hydra Melody. They really surprised everyone with their tight, indie-rock sound. Their sound reminds me a bit of Onerepublic mixed with Bayside, it’s pop-y, but with soaring chorus’ that scream pop-punk. The music is thoughtful and well-orchestrated. Even their cover of Toto’s “Africa” fit the band’s sound perfectly. Not a bad start for their first full North American tour.
From the moment Everclear stepped out on stage, the crowd was buzzing with anticipation of the night’s event. Starting things off with “I Will Buy You A New Life,” off of “So Much For the Afterglow,” the show quickly became an hour-and-a-half-long sing-along. Alexakis didn’t have to do much singing because the audience audibly sang for him, though he didn’t seem to mind.
As the first stop on the tour, New York got the special honor of being the first to hear “Sparkle and Fade” from cover to cover for the first time ever. The band broke the album into two parts, as if it were a vinyl record. Part one contained most of the album’s hits and crowd favorites. The band went through “Electra Made Me Blind,” “Heroin Girl” and “You Make Me Feel Like A Whore” (a personal favorite) rather quickly before playing a short preview of “Santa Monica.” Next, the band went into sing-alongs of “Summerland,” “Strawberry” and “Heartspark Dollarsign.” Breaking up the two sides, the band played their two new singles, “American Monster” and “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart,” from April’s “Black is the New Black.” The second part of the album set featured songs the band probably hasn’t played live in 20 years. They barrelled through “The Twist Inside,” “Her Brand New Skin,” “Nehalem,” “Queen of the Air,” “Pale Green Stars,” “Chemical Smile” and “My Sexual Life” with punk speed and force.
Not even bothering to walk off stage for their encore, Everclear played “Wonderful” and “Father of Mine” before returning to the song that started it all, “Santa Monica.”
A night filled with energy and nostalgia, Everclear’s “Sparkle and Fade” 20th Anniversary Tour was all about the album and the fans. The opportunity to hear the classic album cover-to-cover was a priceless experience the audience was excited to be a part of. With two outstanding opening acts and countless sing-alongs, it was a memorable night of music.