Setting people on fire: Everclear rocks raucous crowd

Everclear frontman Art Alexakis playing to a raucous crowd at the Blue Loon on Friday, July 23. Photo by Tom Hewitt/Sun Star.

By Tom Hewitt

Sun Star Reporter

As Everclear frontman Art Alexakis sat in the lobby of the hotel before heading to his band’s show at the Blue Loon Friday night, he allowed that he once walked the halls of academia.

“I was actually a journalism major for a couple of semesters,” Alexakis said, continuing to say that although he stuck with college for a few years, it didn’t last. “I dropped out because it was getting in the way of my alcoholism,” he laughed, “and I couldn’t let that happen.”

Alexakis said he’s been sober for 21 years, but few in the raucous crowd of more than 2,000 who packed Everclear’s outdoor show that night could make a similar claim. The concert was marked not only by the signature riffs of the band’s standards like “Father of Mine” and “Everything to Everyone,” but also by shoving matches near the front that threatened to boil out of control, as well as a string of stage-crashers who were met with an increasing hostile response from security personnel.

The show was the first visit to Fairbanks for Alexakis and his bandmates, but the group isn’t a stranger to Alaska. Everclear played at the Palmer state fair in 2003, and Alexakis said his third wife hailed from the Wasilla-Palmer area. At the time, he said, the mayor of the town was an up-and-coming politician named Sarah Palin. “I’ve got stories,” he said, declining to elaborate.

At the show, Alexakis earned a little Alaska credibility with his banter between songs. “So I know that up here Fred Meyer is the place to be,” he told the crowd, who roared their approval. “Well, we’re from Portland, which is where Fred Meyer was invented. Oh yeah. Fred Meyer is my dad.”

The band stuck to its bread and butter in their Fairbanks show, peppering their set with hits from their most popular albums. The near-capacity crowd sang and shouted along to most of the songs in the set, from the opener – “So Much for the Afterglow,” from the album of the same name – to the final encore, “I Will Buy You A New Life.”

Some members of the audience at Friday’s show were born after Alexakis first formed the band in 1992, but the veteran frontman said he doesn’t worry that the band’s audience is in flux. “I think some of them have [evolved and continued to follow the band], and I think some have moved on… Good art is kinda timeless, though. I think it will always have an audience.”

Alexakis said he doesn’t have very many regrets about his time in the band – now 18 years, with two complete revamps of the band’s lineup – or the choices he has made so far. The only change he would make if given the chance would be to trust his own instincts. “If I could give anybody wisdom, I would tell them to listen to themselves, to trust themselves more… That little voice inside is usually right.”

The band is currently working on their eighth full-length album, to be released later this year. Alexakis expressed excitement about the new record Friday. “I’ve got a fire in my belly that hasn’t been there since 1996 or 1997,” he said, recalling the band’s heyday and their most successful release, So Much For The Afterglow. “This is the biggest guitar record yet… there are a lot of intense stories on there.”

Alexakis said he hasn’t settled on a name for the new album yet, but that he’s mulling over several possible candidates. “I actually just thought of one last night,” he said, chuckling softly. “Setting People on Fire and Other Love Stories. It probably won’t be that, but that’s kind of where my head’s at right now.”

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