November 26, 2004 - Big Easy - Spokane, WA
|review by Ashley Graham|
|On the cold Friday night after Thanksgiving, much-needed and much-welcomed music made its way to Spokane, WA in a mix of pop/rock and alternative sounds from the newly reformed Everclear and singer/songwriter Michael Tolcher.
A perhaps unlikely stage-setter for tonight's headliner, Tolcher's set is nothing if not fun. Though the songs are relatively unknown by the crowd, they still work some magic. Tolcher is able to start the night by giving off an excitement that transfers to his audience. The effects are subtle but apparent. Tolcher's set is an extensive list of songs off his debut album I Am, including his most well known song "Sooner or Later," used on the ABC drama life as we know it.
Everytime I see a show at this venue, the crowd is a generous mixture of all ages, styles and behaviors and tonight is no exception. Crowds here are always so excited to hear live music that they respond to just about anything. Lucky for them tonight, Tolcher isn't just anything. His brand of rock-oriented pop songs is infectious and fun. Tolcher dances about the stage with anxious movements reflective of his quirky personality. He makes silly comments. He has lively facial expressions. And he has an undeniable energy.
As Tolcher introduces his band near the end of the set he describes himself as "Michael Tolcher... singing and dancing and playing the fool." And from my perspective, Tolcher's got it just about right. He is a generous mix of talent and charm and is also, well, a bit of a dork. And each of these traits is an admirable part of his winning stage persona.
Someone sure to distinguish himself from the fool is Everclear's omnipotent Art Alexakis. In its current form Everclear only has one original member, Alexakis, and has transformed into a gang of five rather than three. Mum on the specifics, Alexakis has simply said in interview that he "made some changes" within the band. And regardless of how good the music may sound, those changes have tainted the atmosphere within the band.
But, actually, the music even is subpar. Alexakis has never been the best live vocalist; missing lyircs and even seeming to forget them at times. His voice is not of the same quality as any Everclear studio recording and the live show suffers from it, and always has. With the added members the music may sound a bit richer, but a few of the songs just don't sound like themselves.
And then there is Art himself. He asks the audience member in front of him to put out her cigarette. He talks about changing "his band" and he says that he's had a rough year because "you can play in a great rock band and have lots of friends, but love is what matters." Alexakis can be a charmer but he is also undeniably egotistical, and when that comes out on stage it can be a problem. He looks bored while he plays and acts like "his" band still has an importance that they really haven't had for years.
As for the other, newer, members - who cares. After playing together for over eight years, it's clear something happened within Everclear that goes deeper than simple "changes." For that reason little of my attention was paid to the new members who seem out of place under the name of Everclear. I miss Craig Montoya and Greg Eklund.
The performance of opener Tolcher was likely the highlight of the night, as it represented something new, fresh and untainted by that pesky business of history.
If Tolcher's music is for you, then check him out. If Everclear has ever done it for you, invest in Sparkle and Fade and resist any urge to head out to this tour's shows.