Songs & Stories: An Evening with Art Alexakis of Everclear and more

“F—k it, I’ll play the hit,” said Art Alexakis as he launched into “Father of Mine.”  This “hit” came halfway through Art’s 30-minute solo set – and after considerable prodding from the 90 or so people in attendance. Since Art was the last of four solo sets, this moment occurred about two hours after the start of the show. By then, the crowd had increased its calls for such “hits,” both as expectations and amounts of alcohol consumption grew. Nonetheless, as Art obliged, the crowd roared back and heartily sang along to one of the songs they had been waiting all night to hear.

 

Although this was my 3rdtime watching Art Alexakis perform, interestingly enough, it was the first time in a normal music venue setting. The previous two shows watching Everclear were in a Las Vegas casino and at a New Braunfels ice house. Tonight, the time the artists spent on stage would be used to play their lesser known cuts. Without a doubt, 3ten brought on a difference vibe – and I truly enjoyed it. 3ten is a great venue: it’s a small, intimate space with good acoustics and holds maybe 200 people if the doors to the balcony are open. The size prevents too much worry over sightlines, and the bar and restrooms are easily accessible. About 15 minutes before show time, with only 20-30 people present, I worried the intimate venue would be hosting an even smaller crowd. Thankfully though, that number tripled by the time the lights dimmed. 

 

When a show advertises the lead singers of Everclear, Eve 6, Marcy Playground, and Fountains of Wayne, some level of nostalgia is expected. The evening leaned into that by playing select tunes by other 90’s-era bands before the show: Pearl Jam, Oasis, Soundgarden, Ben Folds Five, Our Lady Peace. Inevitably, this show turned into musing over where each of your favorite bands now were, if they even still existed. The show lent itself to more ruminations, since each frontman was here without a band…and playing in a side venue below one of Austin’s most famous venues and where the iconic Austin City Limits music series is taped. Chris even referenced his performance at ACL over 13, or so, years ago. 

 

 

There was no doubt the majority of the crowd came for the “hits,” but hearing each frontman’s songs in a stripped-down, acoustic setting, helped showcase the strength of the songwriting. I never spent much time listening to Marcy Playground – “Sex & Candy” was never on my steady playlist – but hearing some of the deeper cuts in a casual setting, was more than enough to keep me invested in John’s set.I did feel a sense of guilt during Chris’ set since, much like Nada Surf, Fountains of Wayne is one of those bands with a ton of indie-cred, but only predominantly known for their one “hit” – “Stacy’s Mom.” This was evident as the crowd was paying little attention and talking loudly until the opening guitar riff began.

 

For me, the four-man jams that buffered each solo set were some of the night’s highlights. They played cover songs which included such artists as Tom Petty and R.E.M. and gave the audience a chance to sing along, evoking the feeling of being at backyard party jam session. It was a lot of fun, but I wondered how the night would have played out differently if all four guys stayed on stage throughout the show, taking turns singing solo songs and coverswith the others joining in at their leisure. If it could have been worked out, I think that kind of setup would have been incredibly unique.

 

Expectedly, about 80% of the crowd left before the encore/q&a. I suppose they had enough “hits” for the night and didn’t have any burning questions or requests for the guys. This portion of the show truly gave the fans an opportunity to connect with the frontmen, with several introspective questions and comments about“this is how your songs changed my life.” The guys were incredibly magnanimous, and took most requests (when they could remember the tunes). This was undoubtedly the climax of the night for anyone that was able to have the mic.

 

 

Whether one left before the encore – happy that they heard the “hits,” or stuck around until the end of the night to hear some incredibly deep cuts and long answers and stories to uber-specific questions, it seems everyone got what they hoped for from the evening. In other words, any way you look at it, the showcase was a success. 

 

Written by: Cesar Lopez

Edited by: Palar Raczkowski

Photographs: Joe Hernandez

 

 

 

 


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