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Everclear played ‘So Much for the Afterglow’ at Irving with Fastball (pics)

Everclear are currently on their So Much for the Afterglow 20th anniversary tour, playing the album in full, and that tour hit NYC’s Irving Plaza last night (6/6) for a show that sold out well in advance. I am a ’90s Kid and So Much for the Afterglow is one of the first alternative rock records I ever heard, so there was no way I was going to miss this. The singles have been played to death, but it’s the deep cuts that keep So Much for the Afterglow interesting all these years later. My taste quickly went from alternative rock to punk, so songs like SMFTA‘s title track and “Amphetamine” had Everclear sticking with me even more than some of the bigger, more acclaimed alt-rock bands who were doing more of a hard rock or metal thing.

Like they do on So Much for the Afterglow, the band began last night’s show with that title track. The lights dimmed, the song’s Beach Boys-y harmonies played over the PA, the band walked out donning the formal attire that they started wearing in the SMFTA era, and Art Alexakis greeted the crowd to huge applause. It seemed like everything was about to kick off with a bang… and sadly it did not. Art’s voice isn’t as powerful as it once was and the band actually seemed quieter than the openers. I hate to ever blame a show on the audience, but the motionless crowd and the lack of singalongs weren’t helping. There’s a level of catharsis that these nostalgia shows tend to offer, and this one wasn’t getting there.

That said, Art made up for some of the shortcomings with a performance that seemed full of genuine enthusiasm. He looked delighted by the sold-out crowd, and he looked like he was having fun playing his old songs (even “Why I Don’t Believe In God,” which he admitted he hates playing). His voice did strengthen a bit as the set went on, hitting its peak on the louder parts of show highlight “White Men In Black Suits.” And while the classic lineup of Art, Craig Montoya, and Greg Eklund is missed, Art’s current band had no trouble with the songs. Once you accepted the few shortcomings, you were still able to enjoy the show for what it was.

Rather than playing SMFTA straight through, the band split it up and played side one, followed by a selection of cuts from Sparkle & Fade and World of Noise (“Heroin Girl,” “You Make Me Feel Like A Whore,” “Fire Maple Song”), plus one off their 2015 album. Then they played side two. The encore saw them playing Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile hits “AM Radio” and “Wonderful,” “Local God” from the 1996 Romeo + Juliet movie, and their big, breakthrough hit “Santa Monica.” All these years later — and despite this being a So Much for the Afterglow show — that’s still the song the crowd went craziest for.

Fastball

Adding to the late ’90s nostalgia was an opening set by Fastball, who were maybe the tightest band on the bill (having all three classic members surely helps). The best songs were the All the Pain Money Can Buy songs, including set-closers “The Way” and “Out of My Head,” which had the crowd singing as loud as they sang for any band all night. They also played a few songs off their new album Step Into Light, which honestly sounded just fine next to the oldies (stream the new LP). Fastball’s best songs are really closer to McCartney-esque ’70s rock than to the alt-rock boom Fastball were associated with. Given all the current interest in softer ’70s rock, it’s a good time for these guys to have new music out. They mentioned on stage that they’d be back in NYC this October. Stay tuned.

Opening the night was the punkish NYC band Ruth Ruth, who had an album on Epitaph in the ’90s and toured with Everclear back in the day (which they mentioned on stage). Vertical Horizon also played. Pictures are in the gallery above.

Everclear Setlist
So Much for the Afterglow
Everything to Everyone
Normal Like You
I Will Buy You a New Life
Father of Mine
One Hit Wonder
Heroin Girl
You Make Me Feel Like a Whore
Fire Maple Song
The Man Who Broke His Own Heart
El Distorto de Melodica
Amphetamine
White Men in Black Suits
Sunflowers
Why I Don’t Believe in God
Like a California King

Encore:
AM Radio
Local God
Wonderful
Santa Monica

Fastball Setlist
Fire Escape
‘Til I Get It Right
I Will Never Let You Down
You’re an Ocean
Frenchy and the Punk
Love Comes in Waves
Andrea
Sooner or Later
Out of My Head
The Way

photos by Amanda Hatfield

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