Many lessons come with maturity. Some people learn to appreciate the small things. Others learn that control isn’t everything, and that much of life is determined by pure chance. And then there are those who fantasize about infant cannibalism.
Though popularly known as the lead singer and songwriter of alternative rock favorites Everclear, Art Alexakis is one who falls into the latter category. He also apparently has stopped giving a fuck about what people think of him. And the results could not be more entertaining.
Taking the stage at the Iron Horse Music Hall during his solo stop in Northampton Friday, Alexakis, armed only with a pair of acoustic guitars and his wit, quickly won over the assembled crowd by expounding at length about the various philosophies he has established as he’s gotten older.
Whether extolling the virtues of a simple, well-placed “fuck you” or pondering the thought of violence against certain “whiny bands/ bandmates” that he’s currently planning to tour with, the charismatic frontman had many in the intimate setting rolling in the aisles as often as they were singing along to tunes they know and love.
Opening his roughly hour-long concert with the short track “Song From an American Movie,” Alexakis was almost instantly thrust into the joking rapport between performer and audience that would define the remainder of his show. One phrase in particular that soon caught on with those in attendance was the risqué retort of, “I’ll eat your baby.”
“You know how babies smell so good when they’re little and how they look?” Alexakis said. “Sometimes I just want to tear one of their legs off and eat it…Yeah, fuck you. I’ll eat your baby.”
Now approaching 50, the rocker responsible for such songs as “Heroin Girl” and “Sex With a Movie Star” was also about more than just comedic shock value.
Before introducing the hit number “Father of Mine,” he preached about the satisfaction he got from repeatedly denying his father as a friend on Facebook. And later in the night, he spent some time reflecting on the challenges of raising two daughters.
Still, most of those who huddled in from the cold outside were there for the music. And Alexakis didn’t disappoint, playing nearly a dozen stripped-down Everclear songs during his performance, including little-heard gems such as “Loser Makes Good” and “Portland Rain.” Mention was even made of upcoming releases of past material like an early record from Alexakis’ previous band Colorfinger and a 20th-anniversary edition of the Everclear disc Sparkle and Fade.
“Yeah, I’m going to milk that for what it’s worth,” Alexakis said about the anniversary re-issue with a laugh.
However, all talk of future projects aside, perhaps the most entertaining display of the night came during Alexakis’ encore or as he referred to it, “the Surly Jukebox.”
After closing his main set with grunge-like anthem “Santa Monica” (a song that “bought me a couple of houses and a few divorces…both of which I enjoyed,” Alexakis said), the floor was opened up for requests, many of which were rejected, while others were strung together into a makeshift medley.
A snippet of “The Swing” featured a young man named Chris who was encouraged to dance on stage. And “Local God” provided the opportunity for several ladies to shake their groove things to the accompanying music.
Finally, after more back and forth with excited hecklers and portions of songs like “AM Radio” and “The Gay Bar Song,” the time came to end the festivities with a good old-fashioned sing-along. Dragging out the classic Band cut “The Weight,” Alexakis worked those in attendance like a choir director as the tune’s hearty chorus gained new life with the addition of dozens of voices.
Watch video of Art Alexakis covering the Band song “The Weight” as the finale to his performance at the Iron Horse Music Hall here:
A touching moment for sure, and one tempered by the knowledge that just because we all have to grow up sometime that doesn’t mean we can’t do so without picking up a few fun tactics to employ along our way.
Now where’s my olive oil? I got a hankering for something young and sweet.
While popularly known for playing locally on the streets of Northampton, opening act the Coyote Choir provided a too short 30+ minute set that highlighted the enchanting harmonies of band members Paul Gelineau (guitar, vocals) and Tim Desrosiers (accordion, vocals). Material like “La, La, La” from the group’s self-released record created easy to follow sing-along moments. And new songs like “Stars” and “How Long” showed great promise of what the duo might soon deliver through their future work. Definitely a pair to watch.
For more information on Art Alexakis and Everclear, or to see future tour dates please visit www.everclearonline.com.
*Also, the Northeast Underground will be going on vacation this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. So, don’t forget to follow us on YouTube and Twitter in our absence. And we’ll be back in December…or as soon as the tryptophan wears off.*