Art Alexakis

Everclear Grows Finer Over Time

with Hagfish and Triplefastaction
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, B.C.
March 30, 1996

Review and photography by Rodney Gitzel

Openers Triplefastaction were an anomaly in Vancouver: how often does an opening band bring a hundred people to the foot of the stage -- in only a few songs? How did they do it? Lotsa lotsa feedback, catchy tunes, and, probably, the occasional backing vocals by members of Hagfish and Everclear didn't hurt, either. Don't know the band? Neither did I. But do you remember the scene in Alien where the nasty little monster pops out of the guy's gut? Well, Triplefastaction imagine a noise metal band springing from the gut of a power pop band. That's Triplefastaction. And no one seemed to be complaining about the splattered blood.

Hagfish had the cool look and they had the cool punky tunes. They had the manic guitarist and the drummer who's finally learning to catch all those sticks he throws in the air. But they were suffering from the too-large venue, a boomy sound mix and so-so crowd response. True, the (ahem) work song "Stamp" got a rise out of the crowd ("What? You want us to play it again?"), but the band was still missing something. What they really needed was some nudity (they never record without Hagfish's Doni Blair it). So one of the Triplefastaction boys obliged, running buck naked across the stage a couple of times. That seemed to do it! The energy level went up a notch, and Hagfish tore through the rest of their set. Overall, an enjoyable set, but it really did seem to be the wrong venue for them; Hagfish would be amazing to take in at a more claustrophobic club, like maybe the Pump.

"Look at all you fuckers out there! This sure ain't the Starfish Room, Toto!" And with that, Everclear launched into their set. Now, I was at the Starfish Room a year ago. BIG big hype about that Everclear show, back then when they hadn't yet been on CFOX. Big big hype, big big disappointment. "Cow-punk wannabees," I thought. So, a year later, I wasn't expecting much out of this show.

Everclear and Crowd Quelle surprise! Had the band changed? Was it the different venue? I dunno, but Everclear put on a damned fine performance, and kept the Commodore floor springing all night. Two things stand out: the music was tougher and punchier than I had remembered it, and all three members of Everclear were having fun up on stage. They seemed to revel in the spaciousness of the Commodore, and had a positive feedback loop going with the crowd. They were working hard, really putting themselves into it, and it paid big dividends.

Streaker! The set included all their hits: "Summerland" was a crowd favourite, with 1200 people spitting out "FADE! FADE! FADE!" in vicious unison; "Heroin Girl" provoked a bouncing frenzy (it looked pretty cool from the balcony); and the crowd sang most of "Santa Monica." A second encore found Art Alexakis -- surely one of the most unique-looking creatures in music today -- introducing "Sparkle" as "one of our favourite songs we do." Out came the disco ball. And -- look! -- there goes the mad streaker again! HA! What more could you want from a show?

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 11, 1996

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