The 1990s rescued us from the ‘80s.
Rock and roll was saturated in a new wave of synthesizers and dudes in make-up. Then, starting with grunge in the early ‘90s to alternative rock in the middle and latter part of the decade, resonating electric guitars were on the radio again.
Everclear is the quintessential ‘90s alt-rock band. It might not have new songs on the radio these days, but the band never stopped recording, touring and performing. Listen again to its visceral radio tunes, and return to the last decade of the 20th century, which marked the end of an era. The only rock on conventional radio today is of the so-called classic variety. The new stuff is pop, hip-hop and country, and the arrangements are all too familiar.
Starting in 2012, the bandleader of Everclear, Art Alexakis, gathered the great bands from alt-rock to play their great songs on the Summerland Tour. The final Summerland show of the season will be held Saturday at an outdoor concert at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe.
The Alt Rock Reload Summerland concert is part of Hard Rock’s Amplified Summer, which also features concerts by Ice Cube on Aug. 4 and Papa Roach on Aug. 11.
“I am in love with a rock and roll song,” Alexakis said. “A good 3, 4-minute rock and roll song is its own universe and you get lost in that universe. And it leaves you wanting more.”
Among Everclear’s well-played radio songs, only “Wonderful” is longer than 4 minutes. Other anthems include “Santa Monica,” “I Will Buy You A New Life,” “Father of Mine,” “Everything to Everyone” and “Heartspark Dollarsign.”
Alexakis had the idea for the Summerland Tour for a while before he went into action.
“I waited for the right time,” he told Tahoe Onstage. “The straw that broke the back was that a lot of people told me they miss the bands from the ‘90s. I do, too. I really love being a part of what happened with ‘90s alternative rock”
In addition to Summerland, music of the ‘90s is played on “The Art Alexakis Show” on Lithium Channel 34 on Sirius XM. Freddy Herrera, a bassist with the band since 2009, helps present the show.
“Me and a lot of people who were making the music in the ’90s grew up coming of age in the ’70s. You’d probably get arrested for it today, but back then mom would go to the grocery store and leave us in the car, where we would listen to radio. The parking lot would be filled with kids listening to the radio.”
And, of course, Everclear will play its song “AM Radio” during the Lake Tahoe show. Fuel will play “Shimmer,” Marcy Playground will play “Sex and[pullquote]Life is full of anthems every day. You just have to see them.”[/pullquote] Candy,” Local H will play “Bound for the Floor” and Oleander will play “Why I’m Here.”
“In the contracts on Summerland, you have to play your hits,” Alexakis said. “It has to sound like it did then and there are no (multi-song) medleys.”
Alexakis, who now owns a house with a pool in Pasadena, said he grew up in a housing project and dreamed of living in the middle class. He loved The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
“All I ever wanted to do was play guitar in a rock and roll band,” he said “I didn’t want to be a huge rock star. That seems like it would be a nuisance to me.”
After a tumultuous childhood and before he started his own record label, Alexakis worked at a day job in San Francisco as well as having a band. Like so many from the Bay Area, he would visit Lake Tahoe. He moved to Portland, started Everclear and in 1993 released the full-length album “World of Noise.”
Infrastructure for bands was good and Everclear climbed the ladder. It began a hot streak that lasted nearly 10 years. It was like Huey Lewis’s run a decade earlier when it seemed every few months there was a new song on the radio.
“A lot of times with artists or writers or anything like that, if you are at that peak, who knows how long that lasts,” Alexakis said. “It’s got to be the perfect storm of what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, where you’re doing it, how people perceive it. In my case, how the media, i.e. radio, look at it.
“I think we did some great stuff after our last vinyl record but no one heard about it because it wasn’t’ being played on the radio and the big papers aren’t writing about it. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It is what it is. We were very fortunate to have had as many hits as we did and, more importantly, the albums that went along with them. I am extremely proud of them.”
During an interview with Spin, a reporter called Alexakis’ songs as anthemic. The songwriter initially resisted such a definition. However, with some perspective, he now feels anthemic is an apt description. Many of his songs are angst-driven and dark observations of life’s situations. The lyrics are direct and easy to interpret. Moreover, what makes them so listenable is the rousing electric guitar melodies.
“I don’t see them as anthems, but I guess they are,” he said. “Life is full of anthems every day. You just have to see them.”
“Santa Monica” is Everclear’s greatest hit. It’s a breakup song.
“We’ve all been there,” he said. “We all get our hearts’ broken in life. There comes to a point where you go, ‘Yeah, that sucks, but enough is enough. I’m moving on.’ That’s picking yourself up and that’s a thing of the human experience that’s so important because everyone gets knocked down. The people who win in their own lives are the people who pick themselves up and they stand taller when they do.
“I was in a weird space when I wrote that song. But, really, if you look at all my songs, I’m always in a weird space.”
- Amplified Summer Alt Rock Reload
When: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 7
Bands: Everclear, Fuel, Marcy Playground, Local H, Oleander
Where: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe
Tickets: $45-$90; VIP $189