Words by Carly Gibbs
1995 was a good year. I was a 12 year old living a life without a care in the world, ‘Jumanji’ and ‘Ace Ventura’ were on my high rotation list and a band called Everclear released their first full length album, ‘Sparkle and Fade’. My best friend at the time entered a competition with the local newspaper to design a logo and the winner was to receive a large voucher to buy products from a record store in Maroochydore. Of course, you can guess where this story is going.
She won the competition and made quick work of choosing a ton of CD’s to bring home and share. ‘Sparkle and Fade’ was amongst the CD’s that she chose, not knowing who or what Everclear were about. As soon as she’d brought them all home, we raced up to her bedroom and put CD after CD into the little Sony player to listen to all of the auditory gold she had just received. We both fell in love with Everclear and listened to them non-stop, dancing around to You make me feel like a whore and Heroin girl, the lyrical content lost on us.
Last night, my teenage fan girl dreams were realised when Everclear came to my little hometown here on the Sunshine Coast. The Helm in Mooloolaba hosted them alongside two other stellar bands, Stoker and Jollee and it was an epic way to spend a rainy Wednesday night.
Stoker were up first with their “Cosmic blues and soulful grooves”. These guys are so beyond their years in talent and are surely partly inhabited by some bluesy/psych/rock spirit gods from the past. They look so cool and confident playing and so they should because they brought the heat to The Helm on a miserably wet eve. I see their name thrown around a lot on a heap of gig flyers and posts and it feels like they are going from strength to strength at the minute and have clearly earned their spot. If you get a chance you should definitely catch them live.
The upstairs bathrooms weren’t open last night for some reason so a little break after Stoker was welcomed to take a quick trip downstairs before Jollee took to the stage. Back up the stairs in no time, sliding into the crowd with a fresh drink in my hand and Jollee began to play. Brooke Mowett is front and centre in a devilish black and red dress and boots and looks like a rock star before she even utters a note. Her voice has just the right amount of grit and huskiness to it to complement their bluesy rock sound and I was impressed right from the get go. The 3 other girls I was with were all hair whips and gyrating hips and clearly looked like they were thoroughly enjoying it too. It was really nice that between songs they had a bit of banter with the crowd which makes you feel connected and really adds to the gig experience and why I love seeing music live. Next level to just listening at home. They look like they genuinely enjoy being up there on stage and shoot each other little glances and smiles every now and again which is super endearing.
Here we are, at the pinnacle of the evening when the (grown up) boys from Everclear emerge onto the stage to the cheers of some very excited fans. Looking around the room it seems that, like myself, this was the soundtrack to our teenage years and somehow being here is teleporting us back to that time and we are all buzzed. They kick straight into it and so do I, bouncing about with abandon and it is so much fun! Lead Singer, Art Alexakis, still sounds exactly like he does on the albums and Freddy Herrera and Dave French were right up there alongside him rocking it out like it was 1999. Heroin Girl was the third song that they played which was earlier in the set than I had expected but I was loving it nonetheless. The whole crowd joined in and sang the song word for word, audible over the music and the powerful speakers that were positioned right next to my left ear.
They played all of the favourites, Father of Mine, I will buy you a new life and Alexakis performed a beautiful solo acoustic version of Strawberry to a crowd singing along again in unison. It was one of those gigs where you feel a part of something. Something bigger than yourself, like an anonymous community who are instantly accepting. The band thanked the crowd and walked off stage only to return a few moments later for an encore. They played two tracks, Summerland and then finished with arguably their biggest hit, Santa Monica.
The room slowly emptied except for those who hung around to buy some merchandise from the bands. Those that did stay were treated with the band getting behind the merch table, having a chat with fans and signing t-shirts and other gear which was the icing on the musical cake.
There are still a couple of Australian dates left before they leave our shores so make sure you get to one of the gigs if they are playing near you. You can check out the info on the tour poster below. It was definitely worth the trip down memory lane!