After three decades of existence, several multi-platinum albums and a laundry list of generation-defining rock anthems to their name, 90’s rock legends Everclear are on the road celebrating their 30th Anniversary with a 26-city tour of the United States. Joining them on this extensive trek are punk legends The Ataris and garage rockers The Pink Spiders.
The tour got underway on September 6th in Lexington, KY and has been a marathon ever since with only one night off between that show in Lexington and their performance at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on Monday night. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Ataris frontman Kris Roe tested positive for COVID a few days ago and the band was forced to cancel their appearance, cutting the bill down to two bands. There were big shoes to fill but Everclear and The Pink Spiders understood the assignment, as both bands gave it everything they had from the first note of their set to the very last.
It was a wet and rainy evening in Manhattan, but The Pink Spiders made sure that dreary energy was stopped at the door as they brought some brightness to Gramercy Theatre with a set of upbeat rock and pop punk tunes. Opening with “Gold Confetti” from their new album, Freakazoid, the band treated fans to an extended set that featured songs new and old as well as a few covers.
The Pink Spiders played the Ataris’ version of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer“, a cover of a cover, in tribute to their tour mates and wished them a speedy recovery. Frontman Matt Friction also did a solo rendition of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding” while his bandmates enjoyed some Jäger offstage, the band joining him at the end to launch into the next song. The Pink Spiders’ set came to a close with “Modern Swinger” before they turned things over to Everclear to close out the evening.
A giant banner with Everclear’s logo was raised and meticulously adjusted to ensure it was level – I appreciated this attention to detail. Fans in the audience began breaking out their phones to grab group selfies with the banner in the background. It was clear that the crowd was excited for this performance.
The unmistakable opening harmonies of “So Much For the Afterglow” played as the band walked onstage. Frontman Art Alexakis stood arms stretched to the side and surveyed the crowd with a smile on his face before singing the first line to the song. The band then exploded into the verse while the crowd jumped up and down and echoed Alexakis’ every lyric.
A few songs in, after playing a Led Zeppelin lick in passing, Alexakis mentioned that the band always enjoyed jamming classic rock songs when they were alone. Joking that the forthcoming song was decades old and worthy of the “classic” title itself, Everclear played fan favorite “Father of Mine.” I loved this song when it came out in 1997 and still do; being a father now myself, it was wild to revisit the song so many years later and to ascribe a brand new meaning to it.
That is the beauty of bands like Everclear. Their music is timeless. Listening to them stirs up a wealth of nostalgia but it also invites reflection; recognizing what a song meant then, and what it means now. It’s a testament to Art Alexakis’ skill as a songwriter and his ability to harness a feeling so universally.
Prior to playing “Wonderful,” Alexakis opened up about his daughter and dedicated the song to her as well as to the kids of all the parents in the audience – and just like that, the lyrics hit different. I started to see the world created by his lyrics not through my eyes but instead through the eyes of my daughter. A new, deeper meaning was created.
Everclear’s setlist was hit after hit, anthem after anthem, serving as a reminder of just how often their music took up real estate in our heads back in the 90’s and how comfortably it still resides there. The band brought the evening to a close with their mega-hit “Santa Monica” followed by an excellent rendition of The Vaselines’ “Molly’s Lips,” ending to a sea of well-deserved applause for an amazing night of rock.
Things got off to a weird start when The Pink Spiders took the stage. I blanked for a few moments and the next thing I knew the band was starting, leading me to snap out of my daze and try to get to work immediately. However, I was shooting without much thought going into my compositions. So I stopped, took a breath to reset, and then got back to work. It’s crazy how effective a reset can be, especially in a high speed environment like the photo pit at a rock show. It doesn’t feel like it will help but it will. After all, the calmer you are, the more focused you’ll be.
The Pink Spiders played to the camera and gave me plenty of photo-worthy moments, and before I knew it their three songs were up. On my way out I asked security when Ataris was going on, and that’s how I found out that they weren’t playing. Serious bummer. Despite the news, I was excited to shoot Everclear.
Everclear was a fun shoot. I always enjoy shooting a performance when its clear that the band is enjoying delivering it. Every member of the band were playing their heart out, and I tried my very best to capture that feeling in the shots. A challenge I often face with vocalists using a mic stand is that they don’t move from behind it, which limits the shots I can get as well as the variation of styles. Art Alexakis was plenty mobile, however, stepping away from the mic often to interact with his bandmates.
With that said, the mic stand did cause me a bit of hearbreak when I snagged this shot:
It’s the type of shot I’m trying to capture at any given time; everyone is perfectly positioned and posing, the band’s logo is directly above them…. and then there’s the mic stand. Is it possible to remove the mic stand via Photoshop? Yes. Can I do it? Hm. This moment is making me realize how low my confidence is in my Photoshop abilities. For the sake of it not taking me one million years to get this review live, I’m going to say “let me get back to you.”
The takeaway here is that I need to brush up on my Photoshop skills, because sometimes you’re just a quick clone stamp away from the perfect shot. And without those skills in your back pocket, the photo simply remains an “almost perfect” shot.