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Remember the '90s?: Getting reacquainted with Everclear, 16 years after Sparkle and Fade 

It's the 90's all over again as Everclear returns.

click to enlarge sound_everclear.jpg
On Saturday, September 3, a band will play at the South Park Rib and Wing Challenge at the Allegheny County Fairgrounds in Pittsburgh. The band will go onstage around 8:45 p.m. and they will be called Everclear. Two days later, this same band will play at the Rib America Festival in Indianapolis.

This is the same band that flooded the airwaves of alternative radio (a somewhat new innovation at the time) in 1995 with one of the greatest albums of that year, Sparkle and Fade, which included a song called "Santa Monica." But the bleach-blond man at the microphone will be the only person who played on that record. His name is Art Alexakis and these days, he is Everclear and apparently he, or someone associated with the band, is fascinated by ribs and the consumption thereof.


But before hitting the meat-centric festivals, Alexakis and his revamped version of the band will appear here in Bend at the Century Center on Friday night. Alexakis and company will almost certainly play "Santa Monica" and "Heroin Girl" and "Father of Mine" and remind us of a time when Everclear was the most significant rock band to ever come out of Portland and would be considered far too successful to play for a group of barbecue enthusiasts.

Everclear is no longer Portland's biggest band, but they shouldn't be swept under the rug of Northwest rock history. I was an Everclear fan a decade or so ago and you very well may have been, too. Here's what's come to mind in the weeks since this local concert announcement (and subsequent radio saturation) reminded me of my relationship with Everclear.

The Show: It was February 13, 1999. The venue was the Mercer Arena in the Seattle Center. My brother and our friends took my mom's mini-van to this show, which also featured Soul Coughing, DJ Spooky and (oddly) Redman. I was at the pinnacle of my Everclear fandom and was damn impressed when the band came out of the gate rocking "So Much for the Afterglow," the title track from the still relatively new album. I remembered the fierce energy the then-threesome dished out and the sea of moshing bodies they inspired. The set, as I recall, was heavy on the newer, more polished sounds the band was leaning toward at the end of the millennium, but I have distinct memories of a raucous "Heroin Girl." I have no idea what the new Everclear lineup (there have been several changes since original bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund left the band) sounds like, but I would doubt Alexakis - even at age 49 - has lost very much energy.

The Peak: We've spent plenty of time talking about the glory mid-'90s days of Everclear, but many have overlooked what the band did in 2000. I'm not saying it was a classic recording project, but the two-album Songs From an American Movie was indeed an ambitious offering from Alexakis and Company. While they made a name for themselves with the grungy hooks of Sparkle and Fade, the first volume (subtitled Learning How to Smile) had an old-school pop radio feel and gave us the hit "A.M. Radio." That track, which features a sample of "Mr. Big Stuff," ended up in a number of movies around that time and showed the band at its poppiest. That record also included "Wonderful," another pop-laced song, although its theme of family strife was hardly as bright, would also later surface in films and television shows. The second volume of the album, Good Time for a Bad Attitude, was released later that year. It failed to produce as significant of an impact as the first volume and signaled the beginning of a long and mostly silent decade for the band.

The "What?" Moment: In 2009, I opened my mail to find a copy of a "new" Everclear album. With memories of that 1999 Seattle show coming back into my mind, I excitedly turned the album over to check out the track listing and production credits, like rock geeks are known to do. I was confused. It was all of the band's key songs, but it apparently wasn't a greatest hits record, as I learned after popping it in my player. Alexakis had re-recorded the band's hits with a slightly more acoustic approach (read: not as good) and included a couple B-sides, just for good measure. It was as weird a move as I'd seen by an established band like Everclear and when I went looking to see if any other writers found it odd, I came across an interview with Alexakis in the Portland Mercury. It was called "The Most Hated Musician in Portland" and the author was as puzzled by the re-recordings as I figured he'd be.

Still though, with all that said, "Santa Monica" is a damn good song. You'll probably hear it on Friday.


Everclear

6pm doors. Friday, July 22.

Century Center Plaza, 70 SW Century Dr.

$29. Tickets at Hutch's Bicycles locations in Bend and Redmond.

18 and over.

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