The Last Summer on Earth Tour (Photo Gallery)
I might not have attended many frat parties in college, and that may have been for several very good reasons, but I’d be a liar if I told you the ones I did attend weren’t fun. Sipping PJ from red Solo cups and wandering around aimlessly with a flock of similarly inclined, skeptical girls I called friends in a backyard whilst some band pumped out jammy little numbers that enabled us to be distracted for just enough time to forget the predatory inclinations of our male peers leering lustily from just across the crowd. Then all of a sudden you realize that the music sounds REALLY good, and the boys are REALLY funny and it’s all just such a great time.
I wouldn’t spend the last summer on earth at a frat party for any amount of money, but somehow in light of the 2012 prophesies of the end of the world this year I found myself in a similar state at Raleigh’s downtown amphitheater when Cracker finished up its set with their hit “Low” and we gathered at the beer tent to prepare for Big Head Todd and the Monsters.
The Last Summer on Earth Tour appears at first to be marketing genius – take a few popular 90’s bands who can no longer draw the size of crowds at venues they once sold out touring alone in the late 90’s and pack them into a neat little ziplock for one night to ensure a full audience at a smaller venue. It felt a bit like unwrapping a sandwich from a baggie, but the best part is that the sandwich, which I had assumed would be stale and lackluster, was actually pretty good!
Big Head Todd and the Monsters have always been a consistently entertaining act over the years, and I was excited to see them play some old favorites like “Broken Hearted Savior” and “Bittersweet.” They were followed by Blues Traveler who took no time in pulling out the old material and varnishing it with the expertise that only comes from playing the same song for the last 20 years. Though “Hook” and “But Anyway” had John Popper straining to hit the high notes, and the band moving through the motions like a well-oiled machine with an apathetic glance at spontaneity, “Hook” and “Carolina Girls” came alive with the energy and emotion you typically associate with Blues Traveler.
I had finally gotten comfortable with the nostalgia as Blues Traveler closed their set and was ill prepared to handle yet another act at that point. The smarter old folks like myself had shown up just as Blues Traveler took the stage and were still sprightly bobbing in their seats (no standing at this show for any reason) until Bare Naked Ladies took the stage.
The final set was predictable if nothing else. Aside from a brief homage to Raleigh’s quite unique “Shimmer Wall,” which is a hanging 9,284 square foot sculpture created by Raleigh architectural firm Clearscapes, Barenaked Ladies took little detour from their practiced staples. They closed the set with pop hits “If I Had A Million Dollars” and “Brian Wilson.”
And so it goes that at the end of such a night, just as in college, you inevitably head to a late night eatery and reminisce through a blur of Budweiser and laughter at the night’s antics. No doubt they got what they came for that night in Raleigh, and sometimes that’s enough. [cincopa AkCA676gxf05]
Holly Hollar/ Columbus Wired
Photos by Lizzy Davis/ Columbus Wired