Well, it was weird. I expected it to be weird. But that’s still just the most descriptive word I can think of.
Yesterday I saw my all time favorite band (Sugar Ray). Sort of. The last time I saw them was 5 years ago (that’s actually a record, before this I hadn’t gone more than year without seeing them since 2000). The major difference this time around was that 3 of the 5 band members that I have literally grown up watching were not there. Only 2 original members are still in the band.
I felt weird before I even got there. I didn’t have the same pounding in my chest kind of excitement that I normally do when I’m about to see them. I guess maybe it was partly a self-defense kind of thing. I knew it wasn’t going to be the same as it was before. Part of the reason I loved going to these shows so much was the interaction with these incredible people… most of which were not going to be there.
I was right. They weren’t there. The only 2 people I knew were the 2 people left in the band. The other guys are gone. The crew members are gone. The hardcore group of fans that I’ve gotten to know over the years are gone. It was such a strange feeling to be at a Sugar Ray show, where I used to feel so… cool… and no absolutely no one.
The show itself was interesting. The Gin Blossoms played first. They weren’t quite as fun as I expected. However, I didn’t realize how may Gin Blossoms song I actually know. The crowd wasn’t too into it though and the lead singer KEPT asking everyone to put up their hands and clap. I have such a huge pet peeve about that. You have to let it happen naturally not beg the audience to do it during every song.
Uncle Kracker was… actually a little better than I expected. I saw him twice back in 2001 when he toured with Sugar Ray. Back then he was still trying to be some kind of rap artist and just stood on the stage, barely moved, and mumbled into the mic. He has a lot more energy this time around. He seems to have found a niche with the country rock crowd. The only real weird thing about this set was that he played THREE covers which I think is a bit excessive for a 45 minute set.
Then… Sugar Ray… it was so weird. No DJ. No second guitar player. And a bass player with a very different style. Maybe it’s just me because I had seen them 20 times prior to this, but it just sounded like it has holes in it. It was missing depth and layers. I really didn’t like the bass. It seemed very syncopated instead of having a smooth flow. Instead of a DJ they had a taped recording for the parts that were missing in songs like Every Morning. Strange. Someday, Fly, and Every Morning felt especially weird without a second guitar part. I would’ve liked to see more electric guitar from Rodney too which wasn’t possible without another player. Watching him wail is one of my favorite parts of Sugar Ray shows and I think a bit of that was missing. The set was also way too short and Mark talked way too much. If he would’ve cut back on the talking he could’ve fit in another song or two. I also wasn’t a fan of the Violent Femmes cover they did. I would’ve preferred to hear another Sugar Ray song. They played all the hits (besides Falls Apart) plus Answer the Phone and some weird new song I’ve never heard which I’m guessing is just called Summertime.
Here’s just a random list of thoughts I had during their set:
1) I was bothered by NO mention of missing band members
2) Mark introduced the “new” people in the band without mentioning that they were new
3) He made a joke about not drunk-posting on social media which he is a major offender of. I was horrified by a rant he posted a few months ago basically trashing the former members of his band who he has/had been friends with for 30 years.
4) He referred to Rodney as “my songwriting partner” again without mentioning the other former members who cowrote most of the major Sugar Ray hits.
5) No old songs. None. Not even Mean Machine. The last time I saw them they played 2 old tracks I had never heard live before and it was magical. I was bummed this time around.
6) There are certain songs where I always watched certain members and sang along with them. This couldn’t happen because they weren’t there. It was a bummer.
I actually got a little teary eyed through a few songs. I’m sure everyone things I’m weird, but I don’t care. It was a bit sad. That being said, I think I’d go again. I know that sounds REAL strange now. It was still fun to see Mark and Rod. I enjoyed telling my cousins (who are the reason I went to this show) stories of the good old days. It brought up a lot of incredible memories that truly were some of the greatest times and happiest moments of my life to date.
Smash Mouth closed out the show. They were probably the most fun of all the bands. They had so much energy! There was running and jumping and head banging! They pulled out a few older songs from their catalog which was quite enjoyable. I’d like to see them again in a smaller, more intimate venue.
I’m leaving you with one of my favorite photos. Me, with my best friend, and SUGAR RAY in its entirety….