All text and images ©2017 David Hill Photography
June 8, 2017
The last time Art Alexakis played Portland, Maine, it was an intimate solo gig at the Asylum. On Thursday night, he brought the rest of Everclear with him to Aura; same building, but big changes. The renovations at the city's newest venue have been completed and the doors have been open for about a month.
The results are immediately noticeable. The stage is much larger, and higher, and is now oriented 90 degrees from where it used to sit, with much improved lighting as well. One of the complaints I'd hear about the old layout was that it was tough to see from the back. The addition of a balcony, and raised seating back near the bar have solved that problem. The sight lines seem great, no matter where you choose to be. From the front row, to the back of the floor, the balcony, and the bar area, the sound was clear, balanced, and loud. These upgrades were well worth the wait.
Everclear took to Aura's new stage on June 8th, not a bad view in the room, including the balcony.
From the moment Fastball took the stage, it was evident how impressive this new venue is.
On to the show. Everclear was a powerhouse in the 90s, and they brought two other alternative radio staples with them. Fastball, best known for their hit "The Way", and Vertical Horizon who gained airplay with the songs "Everything You Want", and "You're a God". Fastball got the night going with a high energy set, and even played a couple of audience requests, including "Rampart Road". Vertical Horizon followed up and did a great job of encouraging crowd participation.
Miles Zuniga of Fastball brought energy and humor as the first act to hit the stage.
Vertical Horizon's Matt Scannell got the crowd fully warmed up during their set.
2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Everclear's sophomore major label album So Much for the Afterglow. On this night they played the album in its entirety, with obvious crowd favorites being "Everything to Everyone", "I Will Buy You a New Life", and "Father of Mine". Mid way through the album, they played an interlude of other Everclear favorites, "Heroin Girl", and from their latest release, "The Man Who Broke His Own Heart." A few other highlights included "Sunflowers" and "Why I Don't Believe in God", a tribute to Alexakis' mother, which he told the audience was particularly difficult to play with his daughter in the crowd this night.
Once the band wrapped up Afterglow, they continued on, pulling well known songs from their fairly extensive catalog. Art, as well as Davey French on guitar, Freddy Herrera on bass, and Jake Margolis behind the drums were locked in, and rocked these songs just as hard as they ever have. "AM Radio" brought out the voices from the crowd, and of course they closed out the show with their biggest hit "Santa Monica" which Art let those at Aura sing the first couple of lines of the song before adding his distinctive voice.
For the band, and those that have been following them since the early nineties, the years have passed, and we have aged, but for two hours on a Thursday night in Portland, we were all twenty and thirtysomethings again. Escaping the problems of our new adult lives through music that meant something to us, and our struggles. We may be older, and our problems a little different, but we can always find refuge in the songs of bands like Everclear.
Freddy Herrera on bass could not be contained, Davey French played some blistering guitar, and Jake Margolis quietly, but loudly, pounded out a driving rhythm.
Art Alexakis and Everclear came dressed to kill, and their set of nearly two hours showed the versatility of the band, and was certainly a great fit for the new Aura.