Summerland 2015 Blasts Into Utica

A healthy mix of forty-somethings and millennials populated the brewery Friday night as Saranac’s Summer Concert Series continued with Everclear’s annual 90’s alt-rock tour, Summerland 2015. This year’s edition features, along with Everclear, Toadies, Fuel and American Hi-Fi.

It was an early start to the day for Everclear’s leader Art Alexakis and guitarist Davey French, making the local media rounds on WKTV and local modern rock outlet WKLL’s morning show, simply known as The Show. Everclear is touring in support of its new album Black is the New Black, released in April.

Everclear's acoustic performance on K-Rock from the 1888 Tavern at Saranac - Photo courtesy of Patrick Curley
Everclear’s acoustic performance on K-Rock from the 1888 Tavern at Saranac – Photo courtesy of Patrick Curley


If you’re a child of the 70s, you’ve grown up with some wild changes in the musical landscape. You’ve seen the disco era, the punk era, the prog-rock era and college rock. Hip Hop and rap came of age with you. Hair metal came and went as grunge plunged the knife into its Aqua-Netted heart in the early-90s.

With the advent of the grunge movement, came a slew of bands and musical styles that could not be easily categorized. When someone doesn’t fit neatly into a genre, new categories are created. The 90s movement became known as Alternative. Bands of the Alternative era of the mid-90s grew to fame playing package tours such as Lollapaloooza, HORDE and the Warped Tour. Everclear’s Summerland Tour draws upon this concept. In 2012, Portland, Oregon’s own created what, for some, may be seen as a nostalgia tour, employing many of the biggest names of the mid-90s on the bill each year. The 2015 edition of the Summerland Tour brought four of these bands to the Saranac Brewery in Utica for a night of nostalgia and pure rock and roll.

American Hi-Fi kicked off the show, rolling through a quick set of their most popular hits, including “Flavor of the Weak.” The video for the song offers a parody of the classic documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot. American Hi-Fi delivered a solid rocking set that gave the early arriving fans a taste of what was to follow.


American Hi-Fi’s setlist:

Another Perfect Day
The Art of Losing
Flavor of the Weak
Wall of Sound

Stacy Jones and Drew Parsons of American Hi-Fi having fun on stage
Stacy Jones and Drew Parsons of American Hi-Fi having fun on stage


This reviewer’s most anticipated band of the night was Toadies, who followed American Hi-Fi. They certainly didn’t disappoint. Toadies, a straight-up Texas rock and roll band led by Vaden Todd Lewis, played a high-energy set which also included a couple of roadies joining in on percussion during “I Burn.” Lewis’ lyrical style may be considered a bit creepy by some, and perhaps that’s why I’ve become such a fan.  Lewis’ voice and enthusiasm hasn’t changed since my first time witnessing them at the inaugural K-Rock-a-Thon 20 years ago. This fan-shot video from Friday shows Lewis at his best.


Toadies setlist:

Rattler’s Revival
Happy Face
Push the Hand
Mexican Hairless
I Come from the Water
In the Belly of a Whale
I Burn
Possum Kingdom


Lewis offered two options for the final song, “Away” and “Tyler.” The overwhelming choice from the crowd was “Tyler.”

Toadies setlist 6-26-15
Toadies setlist edited by Vaden Todd Lewis to show the audience’s choice of ‘Tyler’ as the closer.


Fuel, now with a revamped line-up from its early-2000s edition, followed Toadies with a set infused with its alt-rock radio hits that had the Saranac crowd singing along, culminating with their biggest hit, “Hemorrhage (In My Hands).”

Fuel’s setlist:

Time for Me to Stop
Bad Day
Puppet Strings
Soul to Preach To
Hemorrhage (In My Hands)

Brett Scallions delivering an awesome performance to Utica
Brett Scallions delivering an awesome performance to Utica


Festival hosts, Everclear finished off the night with a set heavy on the hits as well as two new songs, “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart” and “American Monster.” Band leader Art Alexakis’ stock in trade is life experiences in his lyrics. Many of the band’s biggest songs are biographical in nature and Alexakis doesn’t shy away from speaking about these experiences. That, however, doesn’t take away from the fact that the man knows how to host a rock show. Alexakis knows the fans want to hear the hits and he didn’t disappoint. The show came to a close as members of American Hi-Fi and Fuel joined Everclear on stage for a rousing sing-along of Everclear’s “Santa Monica.” At one point during the finale, there were at least ten musicians on stage, with Fuel’s Brett Scallions and Everclear’s Alexakis trading vocal duties and sending the Saranac crowd home hoarse.

Everclear’s Early Acoustic Set Live on WKTV:

The Man Who Broke His Own Heart
Everything To Everyone

Early Acoustic Set Live on K-Rock:
The Man Who Broke His Own Heart

Evening Set at Saranac Brewery:
So Much for the Afterglow
Everything To Everyone
Heroin Girl
You Make Me Feel Like a Whore
American Monster
The Man Who Broke His Own Heart
Father of Mine
I Will Buy You A New Life
Santa Monica (with members of American Hi-Fi and Fuel)

Everclear headlined the Summerland 2015 show at the Brewery
Everclear headlined the Summerland 2015 show at the Brewery


These four bands may not have seen their songs hit the charts in recent years, but the music they play is timeless rock and roll. There was a feeling of nostalgia in the air but there was also a let-loose feeling of a genuine rock show that belies the recent Billboard charts. Alexakis’ goal with this tour is to get the rock to the people and that is exactly what he accomplished Friday night. Everclear will be back in the area for a 2pm free show at Chevy Court during the New York State Fair on August 27th.

The Saranac Summer Concert Series continues to be one of the best tickets in the area. Upcoming events include Dark Star Orchestra, Slightly Stoopid and Zappa Plays Zappa in addition to their weekly Saranac Thursday outings. The brewery has made an effort to bring in top notch bands as well as ensuring the shows are finished at a time when concert-goers can still hit up the bars of the Brewery District for some post-show fun.

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