Last Night: Everclear at House of Blues

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Everclear, Clayton Senne, Oso Closo
House of Blues
January 2, 2009

(Barely) better than: Staying home and listening to my "best of" Everclear CD

A surprisingly large and diverse crowd assembled at the House of Blues last night to catch '90s alt-rock icons Everclear at the House of Blues.

Actually, the band should really be called Everclear Part III: Band leader Art Alexakis has, for the third time, brought on an entirely new (and very youthful) set of backing musicians to perform his angst ridden three-minute slabs of poppy punk.

Indeed, the band members were so young that it was difficult not see the 48-year-old Alexakis as going through a mid-life crisis.

The set list stuck primarily to the band's earliest material as the singer tried vainly to keep up with his bandmates half his age.

Muddy sound also didn't help as this new version of Everclear trudged through all of the expected "hits" such as "Heroin Girl," "Father of Mine," "AM Radio" and "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom." When Alexakis went solo acoustic on "Strawberry," the energy in the venue dropped noticeably and the band never really recovered.

The fact is that Alexakis was never really that great of a songwriter to begin with and his talking/singing style of vocalizing wears thin after an hour or so. Alexakis can surround himself all he wants with young men who may or may not be of legal drinking age, but the fire of the original incarnation of Everclear (featuring Craig Montoya and Greg Eklund) was rarely approached on this evening.

Things didn't start out well as opening acts Clayton Senne and local boys Oso Closo failed to do more than take up time before the headliner came on.

Oso Closo's progressive jams drew an enthusiastic response from the early arrivers, but something about the band's stage presence rang as contrived: There's just something phony about a keyboardist for an opening band ending a song by hitting his instrument with a folding chair.

And Florida's Clayton Senne was just plain awful as his brand of white boy funk/soul was as empty as a broken elevator. Again, the crowd dutifully applauded at the end of each number, but as the set grew past a half hour, there was a noticeable scent of boredom floating around the venue.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I've always defended Everclear from folks who have derided the band for supposedly ripping off Nirvana, but on this night, Alexakis and crew came across as a relatively weak Nirvana tribute band. With lyrics that came across like the musings from a 7th grader's diary and music that never rose above mediocre, the best that can be said about this version of Everclear is that the spirit of punk was still evident.

Random Note: The big crowd featured folks of all ages, all decked out in their Ramones and Run-DMC T-shirts. The cougar patrol was very evident, too: Younger guys without dates cowered in the corners of the club looking for a quick exit as soon as Everclear left the stage.

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