Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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If you love the ‘90s (and who doesn’t?), you’ve probably attended a few nostalgia tours in recent years. Songs & Stories puts a unique twist on those tours, giving fans something familiar, but in a new way.
The tour was created by Art Alexakis of Everclear, who grabbed three of his buddies – Max Collins of Eve 6, Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne, and John Wozniak of Marcy Playground – and they stripped their music down for a tour where they play acoustic versions of old favorites, and tell stories about the inspirations for those songs.
Each segment of the show starts with all four members on stage doing a cover – on this particular night the covers ranged from Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” to Warren Zevon’s “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado” – with the person who chose the cover, and sang lead, then taking center stage for a 30 minute solo set.
Following all four sets is a 20-30 minute Q&A segment (the amount of time for the Q&A depends on when the venue needs to start moving people out) where fans line up behind a microphone to ask questions, and make song requests.
I attended the Songs & Stories tour when it hit NYC last week, and here are my three reasons why you should see these ‘90s legends in action.
1. You’ll sing along to some of your favorite ‘90s songs
Each of these artists fronts bands that have mega-hits everyone knows all the words to, and singing along is a big part of this show, as each artist encourages the crowd to participate.
These are not artists who shy away from their big hits. Before Max’s closing number he told everyone that it would be a song we all know, adding, “I’m not Thom Yorke. I know I’m the ‘heart in a blender’ guy,” at which point he launched into “Inside Out.”
Art initially joked that he wasn’t going to play any Everclear songs, then noted how much of a bummer that would be. Ironically, after he asked us all to lead him into “Everything to Everyone” he then momentarily forgot the words. Laughing it off, he rebounded quickly.
2. Story time with some of your favorite ‘90s frontmen
As the title of the show notes, it’s about both the songs, and the stories behind them, so the evening has a VH1 Storytellers aspect to it.
John Wozniak spoke about everything from Dungeons & Dragons, to the awful New York City tour bus ride that inspired the Marcy Playground song “The Vampires of New York.”
Some of the highlights of the storytelling happened when all four artists were on stage together, as it was clear they’re all old friends, and they openly admitted they love giving each other a hard time. The banter among them was truly hilarious. At one point, after giving Max an exceptionally hard time about covering Ace of Base at a previous show, Art had a heartfelt moment, telling everyone that when the tour was in its initial idea stage, Max was the first person he thought of. Not missing a beat, Max turned to Chris and John, and said, “You hear that guys?”
Max also had fun during his solo set when he asked if anyone had any requests, and the first two were met with a disgusted “Ugh” from Max. There was then a slight silence, so I yelled “ACE OF BASE!” He replied that we could request that during the post show Q&A. Speaking of which …
3. The post-show Q&A can be really fantastic
How many times have you had a burning question for your favorite artist, or really wanted to tell them about the impact they’ve had on your life? With Songs & Stories, you get that opportunity at the end of each show.
Now, whether or not the Q&A segment for your particular show is good is dependent, in large part, on the quality of the questions, so come prepared with something great.
For the night in NYC the most powerful moment came when a fan credited a previous conversation with Art from many years ago as the reason for finally going to rehab, and getting clean. This man also requested Ace of Base, which Max gave us a verse of – much to the chagrin of Art – to cap off a truly enjoyable night.