How many irrelevant 90s bands do you have to get on a concert bill in order for anyone to care? On July 28, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon and Fastball will rock Echo Beach, thus becoming the lamest bill ever to sully the Molson Amphitheatre grounds. The announcement that five "nostalgia" bands were coming together on the same bill to tour North America this summer made me wonder, what is the worst period in modern musical history?
The nadir of 1997 seems as good (or bad) a year as any. The aforementioned bands were at their height, but so too were some of the least influential acts - musically speaking - in history. Billboard's Top 100 songs of the year include such hits as Third Eye Blind's Semi-charmed Life, Sister Hazel's All For You and three singles from the Spice Girls debut album. Savage Garden and Hanson embraced superstardom. Some of these acts managed a few albums worth of fluff, but the era yielded a suspiciously high number of one-hit wonders as well (Meredith Brooks, Chumbawamba, Imani Coppola, Harvey Danger).
It was the beginning of the second wave of 90s boy-bandom, which can be considered a reaction to the decade's grunge explosion, but the rest of the rock 'n' roll cheese is difficult to explain. Maybe the newness of the Internet and illegal downloading pushed legitimate music into the new underground World Wide Web, leaving the less talented, commercially viable acts for radio and music television.
In 1999, Peter Schwarz, Peter Leyden, and Joel Hyatt wrote The Long Boom based on a 1997 cover article in Wired Magazine. Both the article and the book predicted a long period of economic prosperity based on the technological breakthroughs happening at the time. Maybe that sunny pop rock was just a side effect of all that damn happiness. Great art, as we know, is often created when the artist is in a state of distress.
However and whyever it happened is unknown - just be glad that era is over. But the confusion remains: Who exactly is going to dish out $50 to see these guys? Maybe the same folks who attended Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls double-bill on June 27.
Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon, Fastball Under The Sun Tour Echo Beach at Molson Amphitheatre doors 6 pm, all ages, $45-$65. July 28. In the meantime, enjoy the final, Smash Mouth-centric credits of the never popular film Rat Race, proving that Smash Mouth is pretty much the Breckin Meyer of bands. If you can stomach it, you should probably get tickets to the Echo Beach show: