Summerland Tour marks nostalgia season

Everclear frontman Art Alexakis. The band will be at the Greek Theatre for the Summerland Tour.
(Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

It’s difficult to tell if the Summerland Tour — which brings Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit, the Gin Blossoms and Marcy Playground to the Greek Theatre on Friday night — represents the apex or the nadir of the current 1990s revival.

None of these alternative-rock acts (with the possible exception of Everclear) managed to extend its initial run of hits into a career of continued relevance. So there’s no denying the role nostalgia is playing here: Most fans will show up Friday to hear “Santa Monica” and “Every Morning” and “Sex and Candy,” as opposed to anything from Everclear’s new “Invisible Stars.” Even more than theBeach Boys'50th-anniversary tour, Summerland is a traveling museum piece.

Yet its prize exhibits powerfully remind us of how wide open rock felt in the mid ‘90s, following Nirvana’s demonstration that old-fashioned pop smarts can arrive in any kind of newfangled package. The bands on Summerland weren’t that era’s most unlikely; let’s not forget Squirrel Nut Zippers or Chumbawamba or OMC, whose “How Bizarre” is probably far better than you remember.

But they were impressively idiosyncratic: Sugar Ray’s singles — “Fly,” “Someday,” “When It’s Over” — still shimmer with a sense of invention as assured as that on Beck’s rock-canonical “Odelay.” And 15 years after Everclear’s “So Much for the Afterglow,” nobody’s writing more insightfully than Art Alexakis did then about marriage and divorce.


Perhaps those achievements merit a fresh display, particularly at a moment when radio sounds as monolithic as it does now. My only real complaint about Summerland, then, might be one regarding programming: Where the heck is Smash Mouth?