Expanded Everclear Return To Their Roots For Club Show

Group brings along extra help to bang out songs from back catalog during showcase at Gavin Seminar.

SAN FRANCISCO — Punk-pop band Everclear returned to their roots Friday, playing an intimate, ear-splitting show at the Bottom of the Hill.

Normally a power trio, Everclear brought along a percussionist, a second guitar player and a keyboard player, tearing through their catalog.

"We played this club a lot of times before we got our start," singer/guitarist Art Alexakis told the audience — most of whom were record and radio executives in town for the 2000 Gavin Seminar. "The first time we played 'Heroin Girl' was at this club, at Gavin in 1994."

Bassist Craig Montoya played guitar on the opening tune, "El Distorto de Melodica" (RealAudio excerpt), from the band's most recent album, So Much for the Afterglow (1997), then switched to bass for the fast punk number "Amphetamine."

Alexakis switched back and forth between deriding and thanking the industry insider–heavy crowd. He dedicated numerous songs to record-label executives and industry friends, including "Elektra Made Me Blind." Keyboardist James Beaton played new-wave Mellotron sounds, while Alexakis hollered and Montoya and second guitarist David Loprinzi II yelled backup during the song's chorus.

For the hit song "Heroin Girl" (RealAudio excerpt), from the band's 1995 major-label debut, Sparkle and Fade, Alexakis began verses, then let the audience finish the lines for him.

"So, is there any radio-promotion weasels still here?" Alexakis asked before dedicating "Nervous and Weird," from the band's first album, World of Noise (1993), to the band's A&R representative. Alexakis began the tune alone, accompanying his vocals with staccato power chords. The band jumped in, eventually breaking down into bass and drums; then a reverb-tinged guitar led back into a full-throttle crunch.

California Kings

Beaton played a bagpipelike two-note melody to introduce "Like a California King" (RealAudio excerpt), from Afterglow. A few fists pumped as Alexakis sang, "I will find you in the crowded room/ I will knock you off your feet. ... What makes you think/ You are better than me?" Loprinzi played a doubled guitar riff, which Alexakis soloed across.

"The crowd sucked," concert-goer Netta Wong, 24, of Oakland, Calif., said afterward. "They didn't get into it. ... They started kind of like a mosh pit, [and] when you bumped into them, they kinda looked over at you like 'Eew.' So when he played 'California King,' I was like, yeah, that's right to you, you bastards."

Drummer Greg Eklund stepped out front to share backup vocal duty on "Strawberry," with Beaton on accordion and Alexakis and Montoya on acoustic guitar and bass.

The grunge hit "Santa Monica" began with gospelike organ chords. The brooding "Father of Mine" followed with a ska-march bassline, which Montoya played from offstage as the band returned for its encore. Alexakis then invited "10 people — preferably women" up to dance onstage during "Local God," from the "Romeo and Juliet" soundtrack.

"I feel so stupid/ You feel so stupid/ She feels so stupid/ We're all so fucking stupid!" Alexakis ranted.

Alexakis turned the spotlight onto a reluctant Montoya, urging him to sing as the band burst into the big riff of AC/DC's "Sin City." Montoya gave the audience the finger, then sang as Alexakis dropped to his knees to solo after Loprinzi.

Hardcore Buzz

The subjects of a strong Gavin Seminar buzz, Ventura County, Calif., band 8STOPS7 played a set of soulfully sung crunch-rock numbers.

Singer Evan Sula-Goff, 24, guitarists Seth Watson and Aaron Johnson, bassist Alex Viveros and drummer Adam Powell shredded through much of the band's 1999 Reprise Records debut, In Moderation.

8STOPS7 stomped out a heavy, hardcore sound on "My Would-Be Savior" (RealAudio excerpt). "Two days after the flood begins to settle down/ I sit alone in a room full of friends/ My would-be savior slips something into my mouth ... for kicks."

A slow metallic breakdown connected the chorus to a fast-driving thrash segment, with guitar tones reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. Sula-Goff, who sang with Eddie Vedder–like emotive power, was left panting after the tune.