Remember the 1990’s? Those were the years of pagers, Beanie Babies, Baywatch, The Cosby Show and so, so much more. They were also years that Uncle Kracker, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray and Blues Traveler were at their peak of popularity. The ‘Under The Sun’ 2014 Tour brought all those bands together for one night of music that promised to transport the crowd back to the 90’s. The final show of this years tour made a stop at the beautiful Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, California on August 13.
Each band were given an equal playing time of about 45 minutes, with quick changeovers in between. Uncle Kracker kicked off the evening and delivered a solid show. Uncle Kracker actually wasn’t a solo act until 2001, but he was part of Kid Rock’s band in the ’90’s and co-wrote many of Rock’s biggest hits, including 2008’s Lynyrd Skynyrd sampled ‘All Summer Long,’ which he included in his set. Other great tracks included ‘No Stranger To Shame,’ ‘When The Sun Goes Down, ‘Follow Me’ (which he tosses in verses of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’), ‘In A Little While,’ ‘Smile,’ and his cover of Dobie Gray’s classic ‘Drift Away.’
As the sun was descending over wine country at Vina Robles, Mark McGrath and Sugar Ray lit up the stage with what was the most crowd pleasing set of the evening. McGrath actually created the tour, which is now in its second year. He was originally on the ‘Summerland’ tour in 2012 with Art Alexakis of Everclear, but the two split after having different ideas for the tour’s focus. Alexakis has continued with his ‘Summerland’ tour and McGrath formed the ‘Under the Sun’ tour last year.
Currently the host of truTV’s extreme singing competition series, ‘Killer Karaoke’ and coming of his recent triumphant appearance as a guest star in ‘Sharknado 2,’ McGrath has the ability to entertain the crowd with not only his band’s huge hit, but with his between song banner. He made play of his three-time champion stint on VH1’s Rock & Roll Jeopardy and even broke out the Carlton dance. ‘Someday,’ ‘Every Morning’ and Sugar Ray’s former number one hits ‘When it’s Over’ and ‘Fly,’ were all represented, with McGrath dedicating ‘Fly’ to the great Robin Williams, who had passed away just a couple of days before the show. McGrath mentioned how he had worked on a movie with Williams called ‘Father’s Day’ and had a two week period on the set that made a lasting impression on him. A fantastic cover of the Violent Femmes ‘Blister In The Sun’ was a highlight of the set, with McGrath emphatically stating that “the ’90’s wouldn’t have existed without the ’80’s.” McGrath did a celebratory shot as the band wrapped up their high energy set.
Smash Mouth were up next and they ran though all of their catalog of huge tracks, including “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby,’ ‘Then the Morning Comes,’ ‘Walkin’ on the Sun,’ and the band’s best cover hits ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’ and ‘I’m a Believer.’ Another highlight was the band channeling thier inner Kinks for a rendition of ‘All Day and All of The Night.’ The set ended with their massive number one hit ‘All Star.’
Blues Traveler were the final band of the night, and since this was the tour finale, afer taking the stage to the “America, fuck yeah!” chorus from Team America, they proceeded to kick into a medley of some of the other band’s hits, which was a nice tribute. I never thought I would see Blues Traveler performing a bit of ‘Fly’ by Sugar Ray, but it was sure entertaining. ‘Run-Around,’ a great cover of Sublime’s ‘What I Got’ in the set, with John Popper’s harmonica and Chan Kichla’s guitar taking center stage on on the jam-fest that is ‘Carolina Blues.’ Uncle Kracker band members came out (with beers) paying tribute to their tour mates and friends near the end of the set. ‘Hook’ wrapped up their set as the boys waved and blew kisses to the crowd. All of the bands showed that they are all on top of their game, with their level of musicianship maintaining, if not exceeding what it was at their peak. Good memories and good times on the ‘Under The Sun’ tour 2014.
The first year of the tour (2013) brought together Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Gin Blossoms. The first two bands were reunited on this Summer’s tour, and McGrath has recently said that he hopes to add hip hop and female acts to the bill in 2015. On this night, the 2014 ‘Under The Sun’ tour delivered the retro 90’s vibe and gave us all a few reflective moments to enjoy! For more photos, go to the Marshall of Rock Facebook page.
Special thanks to Jessica Puchli of Nederlander – For all upcoming events at Vina Robles Amphitheatre, check out their website: www.vinaroblesamphitheatre.com