Everclear was never the biggest band in the mainstream rock game. The band only had one album reach the Billboard Top 10.
Everclear didn’t have the longevity of fellow '90s acts like Foo Fighters and Green Day, bands that exploded in that decade but are still more than relevant today. If anything, Everclear really only had a five-year run as a name-brand band.
Hell, Everclear wasn’t even that great of a band. Catchy for sure, and quite adept at crafting hooks, but let’s not pretend that Sparkle & Fade and So Much for the Afterglow are the Thriller or White Albums of their era.
And, yet, Everclear routinely fills up whichever mid-size venue it inhabits, and there’s little doubt a legion of the band’s fans will flock to Karbach Brewing Co. on Sunday for the annual Love Street Music Fest. Is the band headlining? Hardly. Instead, Art Alexakis and crew are opening up for both Bleachers and Cold War Kids.
None of this matters, really. Everclear is one of those bands for whom modern-day relevance is inconsequential. The band hasn’t charted an album in the Top 100 in 15 years. Instead, people – and there will be many, believe that – are going to flock to Karbach on Sunday to hear the hits of yesteryear.
There is a simple reason for that. Everclear, like many bands of its ilk, has a legacy built on nostalgia. That’s why bands like Third Eye Blind, Sum 41, and yes, even Everclear in recent years have made a mint touring in support of albums from 10, 15, even 20 years ago. Nostalgia sells, particularly when said nostalgic types now have jobs, mortgages, and yes, the disposable income necessary to buy tickets and merch.
With regard to Everclear, I know that feeling all too well. Everclear, like Blink-182, Third Eye Blind, Lit and numerous others, was the consummate high school band. Alexakis penned really dark tunes – tales of drug abuse, domestic violence, loneliness and despair – but did so in a clean three minutes. Tunes were simplified to the audience. Thirty-six-year-old me isn’t necessarily the most introspective guy; 15-year-old me was infinitely worse.
Even so, tracks like “Santa Monica,” “I Will Buy You a New Life,” “Father of Mine” and “Heartspark Dollarsign” spoke to us of a certain era. We wanted to feel the depth that Alexakis so craftily conveyed but lacked both the emotional wherewithal and life experience necessary to do so. The music was our only avenue to feel what Alexakis sang of in aforementioned tunes.
“Santa Monica” was a breakup song, and teenagers love breakup songs. “I Will Buy You a New Life” is for anyone trying to repair a relationship that’s likely far too gone to be saved. “Father of Mine” is self-explanatory and easily the best single Alexakis ever wrote. As for “Heartspark Dollarsign,” it spoke of bigotry and narrow-mindedness.
Everclear’s success is built in the band’s simplicity. Alexakis tackled tough and controversial topics, but whereas certain songwriters layer their feelings in abstract lyrics and metaphor (otherwise known as the Alice in Chains approach), Alexakis was very direct in his songwriting. His tales of substance abuse, his mother’s depression, his father’s absenteeism, his baby mama drama – these were not tough tales to decipher. In many cases, the crux of the song was right there in the title (see “Father of Mine” as Example A of this hypothesis).
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Now, do I desire a return to high school? Not in the slightest. High school me was broke, overweight and not particularly popular. Modern-day me is gainfully employed, fit and not completely reviled (hopefully) by those in the general public. But, when an Everclear tune comes over the Pandora or Apple Radio channel, I can’t help but smile.
Music has a way of transporting us to another time and place. Sometimes, that time and place wasn’t even a particularly fond memory. But time often softens our view on things. Music is no different.
So, as part of its set on Sunday afternoon, Everclear will take fans back to a time when mortgages, children and a 401K weren’t yet part of the daily grind. It was a simpler time, perhaps not one worthy of reliving, but maybe revisiting for a short time. Some will say you can’t go home again. As bands like Everclear prove, that’s not always the case.
Love Street Music Fest, featuring Bleachers, Cold War Kids, Everclear and more, is scheduled for 1 p.m. (gates open) on Sunday, May 20 at Karbach Brewing Co., 2013 Karbach. For more information, call 713-860-2730 or visit karbachbrewing.com. $30-$125, ages 10 and under free.