Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
I miss grunge. Everyone who knows me knows it. Hell, even people who don’t know me must know it, judging by the response my Nirvana T-shirt gets tonight. I pine for that heady mix of punk nihilism, rock and roll hooks and DIY ethics. And tonight, I know I am most certainly amongst friends.
The show at the Hi Fi this evening isn’t sold out, but by the time Everclear the hit the stage – it’s packed pretty tight. It’s an interesting crowd – a mix of young and old, dudes that look like they listen to Triple M and have 2.5 kids and kids who surely were in preschool when ‘Sparkle and Fade’ came out.
Everclear take to the stage and the beach boy harmonies of ‘So Much for the Afterglow’ flood the room, before the guitars crash into them. There is a surge of movement at the front and heads nodding in the back. It’s a perfect opener that sums up their blend of pop sensibilities, Art’s scathing introspective lyrics and rock guitars. They waste no time before ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Whore’ has our dancing punctuated with self-deprecation and ‘Father of Mine’ gives our movement earnestness. Yes, there were even a few lighters held aloft amongst the smartphones. ‘Heroin Girl’ and ‘Amphetamine’ drive us to fever pitch. We know all the words and we jump and shout them joyously.
There’s a pause whilst Art reminds us it’s been 14 years since the last visit. The infamous Gold Coast bass theft incident now a dim memory. Much has changed of course; long time band members Craig Montoya and Greg Eklund have since departed back in 2003. In some ways a wise move in my opinion, as the band never really met much success after 97’s ‘So Much for the Afterglow’, a thought that seems supported by tonight’s set list that draws most heavily from this album as well as the breakout ‘Sparkle and Fade’. ‘Santa Ana Wind’ from their latest release draws a polite amount of head nodding. Don’t get me wrong the current line up are by no means shabby musicians but really Everclear has always been the Art Alexakis show.
And what is the Art Alexakis show these days? He’s no longer the angsty youth happy in hell with his heroin girl. At one point tonight describing himself as “a middle aged guy with a lot of tattoos and a daughter in college”. There’s still the crazy eyes and the sarcasm, but that familiar impassioned yell is somewhat diminished. Well, until he pulls out an acoustic guitar and renders ‘Strawberry’ beautifully, alone on stage. My faith is somewhat restored. Maybe I’m not the only one because it’s at this point the audience response is raucous. Then they ramp it up again with ‘Local God’ and ‘Everything to Everyone’
Closing with ‘I Will Buy You a New Life’ (dedicated to Art’s wife) I could barely even hear his vocals for most of it and he gives in, standing smiling whilst we pledge our love.
As I turn to leave, a girl all wide-eyed urges me to stay for the encore. She’s momentarily crestfallen when I gently explain to her I think that’s it. But then she smiles and we and exchange a look that needs no words. Everclear sated us that’s for sure.