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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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A Day In The Park w/ Sugar Ray
Thursday, August 13, 2009

I think I need to start this blog post with a small disclosure – I am a huge, unabashed fan of Sugar Ray and Mark McGrath. Musically there isn’t anything they can’t do and their ability to create timeless music that crosses generational lines is nothing short of remarkable. I was fortunate enough to witness this up close and personal when Sugar Ray closed out this year’s Alive at Five series of $5 shows at Columbus Park in Stamford, CT, last Thursday. Sugar Ray doesn’t have to play these kind of events, but not only did they perform, they went above and beyond in so many ways, making it a memorable occasion for the reported 10,000 in attendance. The following are my personal highlights from my day in the park with one of my favorite bands.

Sugar Ray: Let’s get right to the meat and potatoes of the show. Sugar Ray was amazing. They did an 80 minute set that included all their hits, a couple covers, and a whole lotta fun. Mark McGrath is incredibly engaging and was having a great time being back in his home state. Yes, that’s right, McGrath was born in Hartford, which he pointed out a couple of times during the show. He even said he wrote “Mean Machine,” the band’s first official single, about one of the Hartford Whalers’ enforcers (I would really love to know the validity of that, or if he was just playing to the audience.) He spoke with the crowd a number of times and even though he said the band was coming back from a six year layoff from touring he was so natural that you would have never guessed he’d taken a break from the road.

Sugar Ray’s choice of covers was really interesting and showed a ton of range. I don’t know of any other bands that can go from Kid Cudi’s “Day N Night” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” (check out Sugar Ray doing the former on YouTube). I actually don’t think they intended to do the latter, but when DJ Homicide, who is a fantastic DJ, threw it on and the whole crowd did the first half of the first verse McGrath said “we’re really gonna do this? OK!” and took it from there.

I came in expecting a fun time and a great show. Sugar Ray provided both and even exceeded those high expectations. They’re now firmly ensconced on my Top Live Acts list (which, I swear, I will write out one day).

Lending a Helping Hand: Crowd surfing in an area where some people have beach chairs set up qualifies as a definite challenge. One young lady learned this the hard way when she attempted to pass over my area only to find there were chairs to my right and not people. I had to lean over two girls who weren’t really equipped to carry the crowd surfer and with my right hand push her upwards and toss her over to the next part of the crowd. I’m pretty sure that act qualifies me for humanitarian status. I mean, has Angelina Jolie ever done anything like that? I think not.

Mortified By a Minor: Sometimes things happen that you just have to laugh at. During Sugar Ray’s set I was only about ten rows or so from the stage. This meant I was packed in with a ton people, including kids who I thought would be way too young to have even heard of Sugar Ray, let alone be familiar their music. At one point I felt an ass smash up against my crotch. This wasn’t in a “sexy gyrate” kina way, just a straight up smash and it was coming from my left hand side. Turning around I saw a girl, totally bent over, rummaging around trying to pick up her phone. An adult would have crouched, but this 14 year old clearly didn’t understand that concept. Her friends looked at me as I turned around. I had quite the look of shock and horror on my face which gave them all laugh. I guess the girl bending over didn’t see the humor in it, though, as, despite my lone attempt to assuage the bad/embarrassed feelings she seemed to have, she apparently gave me dirty looks for some time afterwards (a couple new acquaintances I had been talking to told me this). I wonder if she knew she was young enough to be my daughter.

Fastball: Fastball opened for Sugar Ray (a band called Super Satellite opened for Fastball, but I only caught two of their songs) and although I remembered “The Way” from my sophomore year of college, I never realized just how many of Fastball’s songs have been on the radio and gotten stuck in my head over the years. The good news is they still sound exactly the same as they did all those years ago and they’re still cranking out a classic brand of rock music that will be playable pretty much until the end of time. I have to say, it was a very enjoyable set by a band that hadn’t been in the forefront of my mind for quite some time. Kudos to them!

Jerry! Jerry!: The one and only Jerry Springer was in attendance, as was Steve Wilkos, to announce that both of their shows, along with Maury Povich’s, have made the move to Stamford, CT. This received a rousing ovation, as did Springer’s attempt to strum and croon a tune during Fastball’s set. It goes without saying that I’m very happy to hear three major TV shows are coming to the state, even if it does mean Stamford may end up the new home of kissing cousins, toothless pimps, and an insane amount paternity tests.

So there you have it; fun in the sun listening to one of my favorite bands with the added bonus of a Jerry Springer sighting. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Check out some pics from the show at my Sugar Ray album on Flickr.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:38 AM  
  • At 8:51 AM, Blogger Always Home and Uncool said…

    First I was pissed i didn't go b/c of Jerry Springer, but NOW I learn I missed Fastball! WTF!

  • At 1:00 PM, Blogger CherylBLITZ said…

    I saw Sugar Ray last week in Atlantic City and thought they were awesome. It was just a totally fun show with good, lighthearted music.

    Fastball were pretty boring though.


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