Concert Review: Everclear and Fastball at Express Live
Sunday night started with torrential rain, lightning, and thunder, but the weather could not dampen the enthusiasm of Columbus for the dose of '90s rock they were about to receive.
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of So Much for the Afterglow, Everclear took the stage and kicked off their set by playing the first six songs from album, from the opening title track down to “One Hit Wonder.” Everclear frontman, Art Alexakis dedicated “One Hit Wonder” to all of those people who thought So Much for the Afterglow would “suck,” and who thought the band were one hit wonders after the wild success of “Santa Monica” off of their sophomore album, Sparkle and Fade. Even after all these years, it was still difficult not to get all little bit emotional/angry when Alexakis sang “Father of Mine,” his autobiographical account of his less than ideal childhood. Throughout the set Alexakis’ voice was strong, and, although he has perhaps lost a little of the upper register, the songs carried just as much weight and strength as ever. The band, currently comprised of Dave French (guitar), Freddy Herrera (bass), and Jake Margolis (drums) were a great compliment to Alexakis’ large on stage personality.
After those first six tracks, the band worked in a few older tracks, including the vastly underrated “Fire Maple Song” from the band’s 1993 debut album, World of Noise. Each night on this tour Everclear has been changing up some of the other tracks they play, and it seemed like Columbus was treated to one of their best setlists to date. After that, it was back for the rest of So Much for the Afterglow, including the great instrumental track “El Distorto de Melodica” and another underrated song, “Amphetamine.” After wrapping up with "Like a California King / Hating You for Christmas," the band left the stage for a brief time, before coming back out for a hit-filled encore.
The encore started with lengthy guitar solos from both Dave French and Alexakis, which eventually built into the intro of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” But with time beginning to run short on the night, the band launched into a great final four song set, including “AM Radio,” “Local God,” “Wonderful,” and then finally, “Santa Monica.”
It was a great show filled with the crowd loudly singing along, and was a very fitting celebration for an album that should perhaps get a little more love in Everclear’s discography than it did originally.
After a brief weather delay, Fastball kicked off the evening with an excellent set of their brand of alternative-pop, covering all of the classic hits, and showcasing some great new songs. Miles Zuniga (guitar/vocals), Tony Scalzo (vocals/guitar/bass/keys), and Joey Shuffield (drums) have comprised Fastball since its inception, way back in 1995, and their history and comfort level immediately comes through in their performance of their songs, new and old. For this tour, the band has been joined by Bobby Daniel, on bass guitar, who perfectly executed Scalzo’s bass parts, so he could play guitar and keyboard on stage.
Fastball started the set with “Tanzania,” from their newest album, Step Into Light, which was released on May 19th. Despite being an instrumental only track, it’s one of the coolest songs off the new album, immediately hooking the listener with the driving guitar, keyboard, and bass line. Check out our extensive interview with Zuniga and Scalzo for the story of how Zuniga came up with the song while on a hellish vacation. The band next launched into “Fire Escape,” the second single from the band’s quintessential 1998 album, All the Pain Money Can Buy, giving the crowd at Express Live it’s first of many sing-along moments of the evening.
Entering their third decade as a band, Fastball’s performance and both Zuniga and Scalzo’s vocals were very sharp throughout the show. The band was clearly excited to be playing their first new music in over eight years, and each new track was met enthusiastically by the crowd. “Just Another Dream,” “I Will Never Let You Down,” and “Love Comes in Waves” are great examples of what Fastball has always done best - write and sing catchy pop-rock songs that make you smile while bouncing around with the beat.
Of course the crowd was excited and loudly singing along as Fastball closed out their set with “Out of My Head” and “The Way,” the songs that have ensured the band’s longevity. But on this night, it was the new tracks that really stood out, proving that Fastball isn’t going anywhere.
Below, check out the full setlists for both Everclear and Fastball, along with photo galleries of the performances.