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The 2016 Summerland Tour Featuring Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Sponge

Mike Perciaccante By

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Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Sponge
The Paramount
The 2016 Summerland Tour
Huntington, NY
July 22, 2016

The Summerland Tour is a 1990s alternative rock 'n' roll tour that made its debut in 2012. The tour was created by Everclear's Art Alexakis and Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath. The first edition of this package tour featured Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground. Over the years, LIVE, Filter, Soul Asylum, Fuel, American Hi-Fi, Toadies, Sponge and Spacehog have all joined in the festivities. The 2016 tour, which includes Sponge, Lit, Everclear and Sugar Ray, touched down in Huntington, NY at the Paramount on a hot Friday evening in late July.

The evening started with Alexakis coming centerstage to introduce the first act, Sponge (which had been a part of the 2013 tour). Sponge, from Detroit, MI, was formed in 1991 and currently features founding member Vinnie Dombroski on vocals with guitarist Kyle Neely, guitarist Andy Patalan, bassist Tim Patalan and drummer Billy Adams. The band's 20 minute set, though short on time was long on quality. The energetic five song performance included the opener "Wax Ecstatic," the hit "Molly (16 Candles)" with its "Don't ask why" verse, the excellent new rocker "Jump While The House Is On Fire," "Go Speed Racer Go" and the band's megahit "Plowed." Though Sponge's set leaned heavily on its debut CD, Rotting Pinata (The WORK Group, 1994), the performance was strong, energetic and full of life, getting the audience in the mood to party.

Next up on stage was Lit. Lit was also a veteran of the Summerland tour. Lit had appeared with Everclear and Sugar Ray during the tour's inaugural edition. Lit was formed in 1988 in Fullerton, CA and is best known for their modern rock anthem "My Own Worst Enemy." The band is currently comprised of original members Kevin Baldes on bass and vocals and A. Jay Popoff on lead vocals and percussion along with guitarist Jeremy Popoff, guitarist Ryan Gillmor and Terry Stirling Jr. on drums. Performing a short five song set, much the same as Sponge, Lit made certain that its performance was bouncy, lively and most of all fun. The band opened with "Zip Lock" (encouraging the crowd members to sing along) and then moved into "Bikini Top." The next song up was "Miserable" with its "Yeah, Yeah" hook. All the while, lead singer A. Jay Popoff showed that though the '90s were 20 years in the past, his enthusiasm has never waned. He was all over the venue—jumping, juking, dancing, thrusting his arms out and up and even venturing into the crowd while delivering letter and pitch perfect versions of his band's songs. Lit's performance ended with "My Own Worst Enemy" featuring the "Please tell me why" lyric that the audience sung at the top of its collective lungs as the band brought its set to an exhilarating end.

Everclear was the next band to perform. Everclear was formed in 1991 in Portland, OR when Alexakis, the band's lead songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist got together with bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund. With the audience getting louder in anticipation, McGrath appeared onstage to introduce Alexakis and his backing band (Dave French on guitar, Freddy Herrera on bass guitar, Josh Crawley on keyboards and Sean Winchester on drums). With Alexakis standing front and center and his bandmates posted at the corners of the stage, the band immediately went for it. A muscular version of "So Much For The Afterglow" was followed by a stellar "Everything to Everyone." Alexakis and his band then continued recreating the band's canon. "Wonderful," the extremely off-kilter love song "Heroin Girl," from 1995's Sparkle and Fade (Capitol Records), The very radio-friendly and aptly named "AM Radio," "I Will Buy You A New Life," "Father Of Mine" and "Santa Monica" all flowed through the hits-filled set. The band was in fine form and having a blast. The frontman, in particular was enjoying himself. During the closing number Alexakis was seen slapping high-fives with the fans crowded around the stage.

Sugar Ray closed out the evening. Sugar Ray was formed in 1986. The band began its career as a funk metal group. In 1997, it gained its first real taste of fame and chart success with the song "Fly" which was anything but funk metal. It was straight pop rock. Based on this success the group's sound morphed and changed to a more mainstream pop/rock. Sugar Ray currently features founding members McGrath (vocals) and Rodney Sheppard (lead guitar) with drummer Jesse Bivona (drums, percussion, programming) and Justin Bivona (bass guitar). Sugar Ray gave the audience exactly what it came for a performance heavy on danceable pop/rock that hit just the right spot in the nostalgic gene of every '90s music fan. The band's set featured singalong versions of "Someday," "Answer the Phone," "Every Morning," "When It's Over" and "Fly" as well as the cover of EMF's "Unbelievable."

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