Summerland: Everclear, Live, Filter & Sponge at Proof Bar + Patio, 7/14/2013
So Sunday afternoon, a bunch of the better bands on this whole '90s nostalgia bandwagon -- Everclear, Live, Filter, and Sponge -- played a free(ish) show on a parking lot at Proof Bar. And in all honesty, as cheesy as it could have been, it was a solid afternoon full of Buzz Bin hits, even with the strange choice of venue.
When the show was originally announced, it was hard to picture just where the heck these musical festivities would be taking place. Proof Bar is the bro-tastic patio bar above the restaurant Reef, and although it's deceivingly large, there's certainly not enough space for a proper stage and sound equipment. I suppose that led me to believe that the show would be this intimate, close-up show due to the limited confines of the place, so I was stoked. How wrong I was.
When we arrived at Proof, it became apparent that this show was pushing the limits of the time-space continuum, starting almost two hours later than the publicized time of 1 p.m., and was certainly not at the Proof venue; well, not technically, anyway. It was at Proof, but it was in the parking lot. Proof's overlooked the show... in the parking lot. A very large parking lot, to boot.
The show was also only partially free now; if you'd RSVP'd early enough, you were good on that whole free-show business. Otherwise, it ran you a reasonable $10 cover charge (or $25 for "VIP" access to a shaded area).
Now, let me be clear here before I proceed to avoid looking like a total venue snob; I'm more than fine with the idea of a show in a parking lot, or wherever the hell else you can play live music, because I like live music and don't give much of a damn where it's at. But logistically, the show just didn't work where it was situated.
If you were on the roof of Proof, you couldn't hear or see much. If you were down on the parking lot, it was sweltering in the mid-afternoon heat with no cover of any sort. You had to pick your poison, and neither was ideal, but whatever. It's '90s nostalgia, and it's awesome, so we all sucked it up.
Sponge was the first band to take the stage, and we nearly missed them while stealing some time under Proof's rooftop misting fans. We had to keep running back and forth to check, but I'm glad we made it over in time to catch their set, because they were awesome.
Vinnie Dombrowski, Sponge's front man and only remaining original member, is this glam-grunge, leather-vested monster, and although the band has lived in relative obscurity since their '90s heyday, they still managed to bust out a short, but really solid, five-song set, pulling from both newer material and closing with "Plowed," their 1994 hit off of Rotting Pinata.
Dombrowski is not alone in his last-man-standing plight; most of these bands only have their front man to count as an original band member, and Live doesn't even have that. Lead singer Ed Kowalczyk has been replaced by newbie Chris Shinn, after Kowalczyk parted ways with the band amidst a boatload of legal issues. Despite that fact, the rest of the bands proved as solid as Sponge, with Filter taking the stage next.
Their set was likewise abbreviated, opening with "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do," immediately confirming that Richard Patrick's howling, wolf-like chops are still pretty killer. The six songs they were given still felt too short, though. Patrick is the quintessential front man, and even with the newer band backing him, he's still got everything necessary to push that band into more than a nostalgia act, breaking microphone stands and all.
The hits were there -- even in a six-song set they managed to play both "Take a Picture" and "Hey Man, Nice Shot," so I'll take what I can get, abbreviated or not.