BUCKCHERRY, P.O.D., LIT, ALIEN ANT FARM – Gen-X Summer Tour Barrie, ON (Concert Review)

Gen-X Summer TourAhhh the angst-filled rebellious teenage years. What a better way to reminisce and revisit them than through the music. Ok, maybe teenage was jumping the gun a bit….let’s say late teens and early 20’s. The shape of the musical landscape had changed. For all my complaining about those times, some really great bands did come out of them. Now let’s take 4 such bands and smash them all together on one bill dubbed the Gen-X Summer Tour.

The bands in question, Alien Ant Farm, Lit, P.O.D., and Buckcherry many of whom appeared in my mixtapes of the era and beyond. The only Canadian stop for Gen-X Summer Tour rolled into Mavrick’s Music Hall in Barrie, Ontario on Tuesday, July 30, 2018. Purported as 4 headliners, however, is a bit misleading seeing as AAF and Lit saw only 30 minutes stage time. Faring a bit better P.O.D. received 50 and Buckcherry awarded 75. Never the less, here we go!

Mavrick’s Music Hall in Barrie is the old Roxx Nightclub. That sure helps the flood of memories from days gone by! I spent many nights of drunkenness here. I think right now I’m actually standing at the exact same table where my buddy, “The One-eyed Fuck”, lost his glass eye….but that’s another story….

GEN-X SUMMER TOUR

ALIEN ANT FARM.

These boys came to attention thanks to their wickedly amazing cover of Michael Jackson‘s “Smooth Criminal”. I bought that album, but never even got through all the tracks. I tried again with another album, truANT. Unfortunately, I didn’t gel there either. A playlist staple for many many years, the “Smooth Criminal” cover seemed to be the only AAF I could identify with.

Apparently, tonight’s set would go the same direction. The band began about 13 minutes early as a recorded intro ending in a ringing alarm announced their presence. I knew not one song, not even a little bit. To be honest, everything sounded jumbled together in one mashed up mess.  Not sure if that is the sound with the high vaulted ceiling or the material. They drew a decent crowd as the stage front area and VIP balcony began to fill up. At more than one point there were rather awkwardly lengthy stage silences or tune-ups. Prompting me to wonder if this really was a pro band. I’ve seen better bar bands.

Finally, after a long wispy intro, the “Smooth Criminal” riff began. And it sounds like a convoluted mess. They are ruining their own cover song! Now am I actually hearing C.C. Penniston‘s “Finally” mashed in there? Don’t ask me how I know a bad 90s dance tune, but I do! Alien Ant Farm ended 15 mins earlier than the reported set time. They had their fans here, but I just wasn’t one of them.

LIT

Several cuts on their 1996 CD, A Place in the Sun, saw play for me. Songs like “Four” and “Zip-Lock”. Which by the way can be heard in the opening scenes of the film The Replacements with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves. But none more than “My Own Worst Enemy”.

What a contrast to the previous act. The sound here was crisp and clear. The energy on stage was basically unbounded! Leading out with Tom Petty‘s “American Girl”, already a much stronger presence than the opener. A ripping guitar solo really pulled me in! Man, my spirits just went way up! Continuing the parade of 90s radio staples, Lit delivered “Zip-Lock” next.

They tapered back for three songs, the new songs “Someday Maybe”, “Good Problem to Have” and 90s “Miserable”. Ramping up once more for the big finish was “Four” ahead of “That Last Time Again” from the American Pie 2 Soundtrack. Of course, the smash hit “My Own Worst Enemy” closed things down on a high note. Great set, I’d forgotten how much Lit I actually enjoy…time to spin A Place in the Sun tomorrow!

P.O.D.

These guys were not on my radar so much. But I do recall hearing that P.O.D. stood for “Payable on Death”. Confirmed by simply looking at their website address. In any case, a couple of the songs tonight proved more familiar than expected. A throwback to days when I actually used to listen to radio.

Thunderous start sonically, but unfortunately I struggled to identify with the material again. Reminding me of Rage Against the Machine musically P.O.D. had the crowd jumping immediately with “Boom”. Vocalist Sonny Sandoval made a point during an early stage address that they hadn’t changed in 26 years. He hammered on it, in fact, leading us to the third selection of “Southtown”, I think. The high energy performance kept the crowd still jumping, fists high. But unfortunately, this just wasn’t resonating well for me. My attention wandered. Tuning back in briefly, I caught some audience harassment to those not givin’ ‘er I think. Must be talking about me!

Inevitably we rolled around to something I’d heard before in “Youth of the Nation”. A few others went by all blending together in my ears. I did catch that one was a new song but missed the title. Later research shows it was probably “Soundboy Killa”. As expected, P.O.D. closed with presumably their biggest song, “Alive”. Overall a real crowd pleaser for possibly everyone but me.

BUCKCHERRY

On the strength of “Lit Up”, Buckcherry quickly became a fave. Several of those earlier albums were fantastic, Black Butterfly actually being my top choice. While of course, I love “Crazy Bitch”, it seriously annoyed me to hear it in dance clubs and the like. And then the overly popular whiny ballads “Everything” and “Sorry” didn’t assist. Therefore the 15 album almost never saw play for me. And I can’t get on board with the Fuck EP nor the Confessions album. I get it, you’re Buckcherry but now the “f” bombs seem unnecessary, forced and out of place. Simply for the sake of it you know. It doesn’t make you cool to say it guys. Not that I don’t go the same way after about 6 or 8 beers, but you get my point.

I’ve seen Buckcherry live a few times. Some great, others not so much. The last time was just about two months back in early June at Sweden Rock Festival. Their set was in the daytime but the crowd turned up in spades. However, Buckcherry seemed subdued, lifeless and rather flaccid on stage. It was a shockingly uninspired performance I thought. In the past, I’ve seen them attack Toronto stages and take on the obsessive heat of Rocklahoma, so hopefully, the bad boys are back on form tonight.

My good pal Olivier did some fancy negotiations and we gained access to the VIP balcony just in time for Buckcherry. We secured great vantage points as Buckcherry‘s Gen-X Summer Tour started with “Ridin'”. The sound seemed great and the boys were energetic on stage. Perhaps jetlag was the culprit at Sweden Rock? For their second number, vocalist Josh Todd introduced it as “a song about revenge” but I wasn’t overly familiar with it. I guess I need to brush up on my Buckcherry as I also didn’t know the next two songs either. But I did notice Josh Todd and guitarist Stevie D. could barely stand still. They were a blur of movement. Indeed the whole band seemed way more inspired than at Sweden Rock!

“Lit Up” blasted through next, such a great song! The whole band (save the drummer Sean Winchester) began “Say Fuck It” by all bouncing in unison. From Black Butterfly we got “Tired of You”, Todd literally commanding the audience attention. One thing Buckcherry do a great job of is changing up their setlist. It’s not always the same old songs year after year. In fact, night after night is often different for a Buckcherry show.

Asking “how many real Buckcherry fans” were here, Todd led them through a song I didn’t know. Guess I’m not a real fan. They served up “Too Drunk…” next, which is from Black Butterfly, unless you have the clean version then you get a cover of “Highway Star”. A brand new song, “The Vacuum” was sandwiched in between the hits “Sorry” and “Gluttony”. Band intro time during the smash and light mosh pit inciting “Crazy Bitch” which included a little “Proud Mary” cover as well.

Leaving the stage for only a short few moments, Buckcherry were back quickly to deliver “Everything”. Ahead of a wicked cover of The Doors“Roadhouse Blues” Todd announced that we should stick around as he was going to DJ after the set. As the lights went up to signify the end, the outro “I Will Always Love You” played the band off stage. Wow, great show! Buckcherry obviously belongs in a nightclub as opposed to mid-day on a festival bill. From my recent experience of course.

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The Meister

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