SHOW REVIEW: Everclear Live in Butte, Montana, Aug. 5

Show Reviews

Everclear — Butte, Montana

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Everclear’s show in Butte, Montana on Saturday, Aug. 5 wasn’t exactly what the band expected. Stormy weather rerouted the “Brawls and Kickstart Day” event to the Butte Civic Center, where a large crowd gathered to hear the famous ‘90s rock back, best known for “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Wonderful.”

The band is now in its 31st year, which even vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter Art Alexakis can hardly believe. And the whole band is still together: Freddy Herrera on bass, Brian Nolan on drums and (for the past 19 years) Davey French on guitar. 

Everclear doesn’t take this for granted, even on nights with last-minute change-ups without its stage technician. 

“We got through it, man,” Alexakis told Americana Highways. And that they did, with a little help from their fans, who sang along to most every tune, new fans and faithful fans alike, generations of Everclear admirers.

“Did you hear them?” Alexakis asked. “I was blown away by that crowd.”

It’s been like that wherever Everclear goes, an outpouring of love, similar receptions coast to coast as they received at Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go – a show that all can hear, as it’s being live album on Sept. 8. In addition to the epic, nostalgic set, Live at the Whisky a Go Go includes two new studio tracks, “The Year of the Tiger” and “Sing Away.” The former is a post-COVID fight song that doesn’t hold back, an angry rocker that addresses the nation’s division as well as the confusion and weirdness that we’re all still processing. (“We are still broken from that fucked up year that disappeared”)

Alexakis has had his own struggles, which made the pandemic even more of a bitch. In 2016 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the coronavirus only accelerated his symptoms, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves and sharing the songs he’s written that have touched so many lives – rock and roll story songs that don’t stray from vulnerability or bluntness. Sober since he was 27 years old (he’s 61 now), Alexakis can go there, unafraid to take an unfiltered look into the hardest realities to accept. 

And Alexakis tells it like it is. On “Everything to Everyone,” he calls out a character in a way that’s tragic yet comical, and the music is uplifting, just like so many Everclear songs. In Butte, Alexakis and his bandmates jumped up and down (Herrera even busted out some spin moves). It was a party, a celebration, and we all got in on it, whether jumping, singing, swaying or all three at once. I was my loudest when the band played “Local God” from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack (“Back in the 90s they used to have rock songs in movies,” Alexakis told the crowd, one of several nods to a decade that’s more endearing by the year). Everclear played the hits, and the crowd ate it up, especially the younger ones in attendance. 

“It’s amazing seeing the young people getting into it,” Alexakis said.

And there were a lot of them in Butte, including the opening act, high school group False Fiction. For Alexakis, hearing them was one of the highlights. 

“Man, they were awesome,” he said. “They were all about the 80s [covers included “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Summer of ‘69”]. I told them they’ve got everything they need, to make the music more their own and not lose track of themselves. There’s something there. I want to hear them in a couple years.”

Alexakis said he was mostly impressed with False Fiction’s originals, and said hearing kids making their own rock music gave him hope for the future. Instead of just being disillusioned, kids are doing something about it, just like Alexakis did when he was young. 

“One of the things that brings me joy is playing guitar,” he told the crowd at the Butte Civic Center. As he looked out at the many young people in attendance, he offered a little advice, as well, a nugget that also served as an important reminder to the adults: “Don’t do anything that doesn’t bring you joy.”

It was clear on Aug. 5 that’s exactly what Alexakis and his band of brothers were doing. As they played “Strawberry” and “Heartspark Dollarsign” from Sparkle and Fade, as the crowd joined them in singing along to “I Will Buy You a New Life,” as they rocked out Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town,” followed up by “Santa Monica,” the song that catapulted the band into rock stardom, they were all in, Alexakis not allowing MS to keep him from what he loves the most. He pushed through, and that’s what he’s going to keep doing. In September, the band kicks off a tour with the Pink Spiders and The Ataris. And, from there, who knows. Alexakis said he likes the way Everclear’s sound is maturing, both musically and lyrically. Will there be another album? “I’ve got people bugging me about it,” Alexakis said. “Right now it’s just fun to play more music.”

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