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1990's acts Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Gin Blossoms rocked 'Under the Sun' Tour at Electric Factory


Although it may not seem like it, the 1990’s may not seem that long ago, but long enough to see the launch of some 90’s nostalgia concerts.


This past weekend, the 2013 Under the Sun Tour featuring 90’s bands Fastball, Vertical Horizon, Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth made its way to Philadelphia’s Electric Factory.  Photo: Chris Grasso


The project was the brainchild of Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, who previously toured with Everclear’s Art Alexakis during last year’s Summerland concert. McGrath did double duty on the night- performing with his band and emceeing the event as well.


The chart successes of the bands on this year’s bill varies. While not possessing the extensive catalog of some of the other bands’ performing on the bill, some of Fastball’s biggest hits were FM staples that permeated late 90’s (as well as early 2000’s) radio. Opening with the underrated “You’re an Ocean,” the band rocked out with favorites “Fire Escape” and “Out of My Head” before closing with their biggest hit “The Way” from their 1998 album All the Pain Money Can Buy.  


It’s a shame a nice portion of the crowd hadn’t arrived by the time Fastball started to wrap up their energetic, powerful short set. Having a strong opener is the only reason that could explain why Vertical Horizon didn’t open and followed them. With the exception of the band’s 2000 hit and set closer “Everything You Want,” there was no real semblance of energy emanated by the band whatsoever. In fact, lead singer Matt Scannell stuck the microphone out to crowd to sing a big part of the songs- which usually means the singer now has trouble hitting those particular notes. Keep in mind they had a five song set.

 Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms. Photo: Chris Grasso

Next came the Gin Blossoms- my personal favorite from my high school/college days. The band was a major influence on my first band, and they did not disappoint. Lead singer Robin Wilson sounds EXACTLY like he did in 1996, toasting the crowd as the band rocked a nine song set mostly consisting from 1992’s New Miserable Experience. The set highlights featured the hits “Hey Jealousy,” “Till I Hear it From You,” and set closer “Follow You Down.”


After their set, Wilson, who is a supporter of the Love Hope Strength Foundation- the worlds leading rock n roll cancer foundation, walked around and talked to audience members and fans in hopes of building an international marrow database through their “GET ON THE LIST” campaign. You can learn more about this organization by clicking the above highlighted link. You can also find them on Facebook at facebook.com/lovehopestrength  


Check out Chris Grasso's awesome photos of the night on Philly2Philly's Facebook page!


90’s pop stars Sugar Ray took the stage shortly after. And while not possessing the greatest of vocal ranges, McGrath stepped away from his emceeing duties and masterfully worked the crowd as the band played their hits “Someday,” “Every Morning,” “When It’s Over,”  “Fly” as well as a cover of Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun.”  Whether you love them or hate them, it’s tough not to buy into McGrath’s energy. Despite the fact that Sugar Ray’s heyday is behind them, McGrath realizes how lucky he truly is and made a conscious effort to thank the fans for giving him the chance to perform all across the United States for the last two decades.


Smash Mouth would close the night. While not having the songwriting prowess of the Gin Blossoms or the charisma of McGrath, lead singer Steve Harwell and the band were absolutely cooking.  ? and the Mysterians cover “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby,” “Then the Morning Comes,” “Walkin’ on the Sun,” and The Kinks’ (though sounding more like Van Halen’s version) “You Really Got Me,” were enough to grab the attention of the enthusiastic crowd.  


At the end of the night, people were in good spirits and walked away feeling quite nostalgic.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photos: Chris Grasso


Special thanks to Francesca Quigley at Plan A Media, LLC.