Summerland (Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit, Marcy Playground) 07/21/12
PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ
Words/Photos/Videos By Jay Porks
Since late March the buzz has been huge for what people are dubbing the 90s throwback experience of a lifetime. It’s Summerland! Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground. With the exception of Sugar Ray, I love all these bands and I was too young to see when they were popular, so for them to be getting together and bringing this carnival to one of my favorite venues, PNC Bank Arts Center in Homdel, NJ, is just the bees knees. According to the post breaking the story here at Concert Confessions, I was suppose to find a Big Dog shirt, bleach my hair and grab a wallet chain. Well, all the bleach in my house is being used soaking my work attire, I don’t own a wallet chain, and I have misplaced my Big Dog tee. But it’s cool, I found my Meat Puppets tee-shirt to make up for it.
PNC Bank Arts Center has a funky way of doing things with the prohibiting of tailgating. It’s as if you never know until you show up if it’s allowed. Well, this time after reading the FAQ on the venue’s website I decided to call up ( and you should too before you go to shows 1-723-203-2500) and ask what the deal was. It was communicated to me that tailgating WILL be permitted and the parking lot opens at 5PM. Good to know, I’ll pack my cooler. Rolling with a crew, and that’s always more fun. We got my friends Pam, Ray and Lisa. Pam’s is a veteran to the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series by now, having been along for many of our 74 installments. It was actually a year ago to the day that Pam, Ray, Lex and I scampered across the Garden State Parkway just to miss Sublime w/ Rome.
My irresponsible planning and driving directions that took us in circles around Staten Island for a extra hour or so, we finally pulled up to the parking lot at almost 7PM. That’s when show is set to start, I’d assume. But we decided that we’d walk in on “Sex and Candy” and it’d be no harm, no foul. We’re trying to drink our beer at supermarket prices here in the parking lot. So we were about to start the trek (more like the drunken stumble) towards the venue when, out of no where some yellow school bus suddenly suddenly pulls up. They opened the door and were shuttling people to the main parking lot by the entrance. It was like a Summerland miracle..
Got to the gates, after being frisked like criminals we headed up to the Lawn to hit a beer line where someone gave me props on my Meat Puppets tee shirt. Anything to spread the brand. Still on this line at 8:29 is when the chords of “Follow You Down” kick off. Now we’re boozed up headed back to find a spot, which we found a good one. Not the best spot overall, but there was a path for a guy like myself to run up to the railing to get good video of songs I found important. So much weed was being smoked EVERYWHERE by the time “Found Out About You” came on. I turned to Pam and said “They’re gonna do that Allison song next”, and sure enough, here we are into “Allison Rd“.. Towards the end you realize: Wow, the Gin Blossoms are really kicking ass right now. None of their set disappointed, as you can certainly hear on my video of “Hey Jealousy” where it seems as if I had walked into a crowd of teenage girls, who proceeded to scream every single lyric. I’d do the same thing if I wasn’t wielding a camera. I finally got to see the Gin Blossoms, all those songs that represented all those shitty relationships I’ve had in my life I got to see live. That’s what this tour is all about.
You’ve figured out by now that we’ve already missed Marcy Playground AND Lit. That’s a bummer. But then again, I’m chalking this up as a victory with the Gin Blossoms-and I got Everclear later. Speaking of Everclear, at about 9:15 here comes Art Alexakis on stage, thanking everyone for coming out and talking about how awesome the 90’s were, and explaining a story about how he first met Mark McGrath in 1997 on acid (not sure which one of them was on acid). He then introduced Sugar Ray.
First song we hear is the Saved By The Bell theme song, I think it’s being played over the loud speaker. Ray and I are screaming the lyrics aloud grabbing the attention of a chick sitting in front of us (yea, we’re sitting on the grass for Sugar Ray), then the band played Wipeout and Mark McGrath appeared in a white sport coat on stage. McGrath has this cocky personality about him that anyone who’s seen him live will tell you something to the effect of “you hate him but you love him”. So I spent this set focused on not letting this douche nozzle win me over. After “Every Morning” and “Out The Window” almost made my head nod. I recognize way too many of these songs for me to openly admit. They broke into “Mean Machine/Blitzkrieg Bop” mashed into one song sort of-they’ve been doing that on this tour. The two fans were pulled up on stage, to sing verses on some more covers. The first dude got “You got to Fight For Your Right (To Party)” and it was pretty neat, then with the second dude the whole band got into “I Got A Feeling“. Yeah, that song by The Black Eyed Peas. I was this close to enjoying that set until I heard that non-sense. He handed them each a shirt by saying “Here ya go, a Collective Soul Tee for you, and a Third Eye Blind one for you”. Where are they on this tour? They closed out a crowd pleasing set with “Fly” which I taped and afterwards kept rolling for the first verse of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song he did.
So around 10:15 McGrath comes back out to introduce Everclear, proclaiming them “The ONLY band that can close out Summerland!”. Damn right. The people who think Sugar Ray is the band on this bill need to have their heads examined.
So a few minutes later Everclear hit the stage and kicked things off with “Father of Mine” and “Everything to Everyone“. I know people who disagree with my last paragraph will find joy in this, what bothered me was the mass amounts of people leaving while Everclear was just kicking off their set. It’s bad enough that the seated area between the lawn and the pit was half empty, but by the time Everclear was into their 3rd song the place was getting scarce. Then at about 10:45, Lisa says “hey, why don’t we sneak by that security guard into those seats”. I finished taping whatever song I was (because I have a railing to lean on the camera isn’t so shaky) and tapped Pam and said we were about to make moves. As soon as 3 hot girls passed in front of this dude, we walked right passed him with his back turned to us. That was bad ass.
So now we’re in what, $50-$60 seats for the rest of the show, which wasn’t too long but was everything we needed. “Wonderful” and “I Will Buy You A New Life”
were beautiful and for all these people who say Art’s voice is “shot” and they’re “terrible live” please, comment below and tell me how that is fact? These songs sounded exactly as they did on record. Humor me.
Then they jumped into a Led Zeppelin cover(Rock And Roll) that they had the lead singer of Lit come out to assist with. I’m recording this song when a fight breaks out between these two drunken heavyweights a few rows up. Typical Jersey rock concert, people get drunk and argue over which one of them is the father of Snooki’s child. But wait, why is my 5 foot 2 friend Lisa over there now? She’s breaking up the fight is what she’s doing, for reasons none of us, including her are able to explain.
Dudes are covering Zep and I had to make sure some guy twice my size doesn’t toss Lisa to the side like a discarded napkin. It was a conflict that resulted in me NOT being manly and heading over there, and the video sucks anyway because I had my eyes on the brawl. The most I did was turn to the couple next to me, and we shared a shoulder shrug.
The last song of the evening was of course “Santa Monica“, which is personally the only song I can play on guitar-barely. But there were kids on stage, I believe the lead singer of Lit (who was still hanging on stage) brought his kids up to partake in the awesomeness. Show ended about 11, that was after Art said “See you next year, tell a friend!”. Well, I’m the friend that just told you.
What a moment. Been waiting since March for this, and even with missing Lit and Marcy Playground this still was such a great experience, no matter how cheesy some may view it as. This cost me $25. In this economy, I’ll take it! Anyway, those who stuck around to read I thank you, and hope you keep up with us at Concert Confessions because there is nothing but good things going on over here. Keep your eyes peeled.