ATN New York correspondent Mark Healy attended
performance in New York on Sunday, Feb. 18. Here's his report: When
easy to stagger on-stage and hide behind a protective indie sneer and just the
right pop contempt, Everclear's performance was refreshingly ballsy. With the
show originally slated for a smaller venue, then upgraded later to The Academy,
singer/guitarist Art Alexakis didn't even attempt to hide his satisfaction at
their warmest and most visible New York reception to date. Alexakis' eyes
scanned the balcony and the crowd, his face an image of gratitude and
disbelief. "Look at all of you," he said incredulously. Only he seemed
surprised by the turnout.
Is he too wise to be jaded? Too old to take
anything for granted? Or is he just oblivious to Everclear's bursting teen
appreciation. Of course the place was packed. Of course, everyone was happy to
be there, happy to go hoarse and lose a shoe or hurl a bra on-stage before the
night was through just to prove to Everclear that as far as they were concerned
they are the real deal and besides it was a bonus weekend night before a
meaningless national holiday and no one had anything in particular to do the
next day so they were just gonna throw themselves around and sing along and
lose their keys and make sure the three guys on stage got the
Standing alone on stage with the kind of casual poise and
world-weary resolve, Art Alexakis began strumming the tender chords to
"Strawberry." Alexakis was joined by bass player Craig Montoya and drummer Greg
Eklund and as the horizontal bodies bobbed before him, he eased into the
soulful chorus "don't fall down now, you will never get up," though it was
clear the show hadn't really begun. Everclear then turned it up and laid it
down, jump-starting a potent set that would begin with the scratchy chords of
"Electra Made Me Blind" and end with two two-song encores a satiating hour and
a half later.
With Montoya constantly tooling and toying leadership
potential from his bass, and drummer Eklund striking a perfect mix of rowdiness
and restraint, it was obvious why Everclear works. With an over-compensating
power trio and brash straight-ahead chords to compete with, it's the artful
songwriting that measures up. On turns both forlorn and optimistic, thrashing
and melodic, Alexakis stepped back and made the most of his veteran
perspective. He's a thirty-four year old whose tastes of discord and addiction
are fresh enough to work as an authentic part of his vernacular--and he's old
enough to write wisely about them.
And with a second album ascending the
charts, Everclear has nothing to prove. They're secure in their jagged, grungey
ways to write smooth, rocking pop songs with lyrics that are strong enough to
be heard--and regrettably, sung along to. And sing along the audience
attentive kids didn't have to wait for a show-closing anthem for a chance to
chime in; Alexakis (overwhelmed with gratitude perhaps) let trail the chorus of
his opening song and had hundreds echoing his heartfelt plea.
The set combined new hits from Sparkle and
Fade and selections from their less-tidy World of
Noise, recorded when
they were just another Portland-based bar band. Ripping guitar leads and
well-restrained distortion kept everything lively and, despite their brief
three-minute bursts, they didn't reproduce the album for an audience. Instead,
they varied their tunes with improvised guitar riffs both sharp and lazy,
restless bass lines and lots of teen frustration.
participation returned with a ferocity that only a teen flight/ fantasy anthem
like "Summerland" could provoke: "We could find a place/ Make it what we want
to be/ No one really gives a fuck about us anyway..." Everclear revisited the
speedier, rougher songs of their first album World of Noise like "Your
Genius Hands" and "Loser Makes Good" which all had a bit more bite than their
more recent songs, even if few knew the words well enough to sing
Everclear finished the set on an appropriate mainstream note,
playing their single "Santa Monica" with clarity and grit, then returned to
remember their roots with not one but two obligatory covers--slamming, sloppy
versions of Tom Petty's "American Girl" and AC/DC's "Sin City."
slipped behind the curtain for the third and final time, Alexakis again turned
his appreciative gaze to the audience. "I can't believe this place," he said.
"You guys are fuckin' awesome." And then, not above a little self-promotion, he
added, "We'll be back in two months."