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Everclear, Hagfish, Triple Fast Action
Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, B.C. 3/30/96
Live Review
The Rocket, April 10, 1996

By P. Hoffman

As their latest album, Sparkle and Fade, rides high in the indie charts, Portland's Everclear brought their version of grunge/punk/pop north. Playing to a sold-out crowd, the trio pumped enough adrenaline to make one suspect steroid abuse.

While Art Alexakis cranked his throat in ways reminiscent of the late Cobain, the rhythm section of bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund provided a power base not unlike their Seattle forefathers. Alexakis and Montoya strutted the stage with chaotic menace as their tales of drug abuse, racism, and living in a seemingly vacant world collided with turbulent pop melodies. The mosh pit warmed to the barrage of feedback from the stage as Alexakis dove into "Heroin Girl," a song about his past addiction. Saturated with junkies and death, Alexakis' purging of the past and determination to not become another casualty set the tone for the rest of the show. The rage-fueled songs Everclear spat at the audience talked of depression and a world gone bad, but paradoxically, underneath the jarring wall of distortion and fuzz, the hooks and melody are classic. While the world may be shit, according to Alexakis, there is a sparkle; a thin strand of hope, albeit, suffused in desperation if one simply doesn't fade away. "Summerland," "Santa Monica," and "You Make Me Feel Like a Whore" exorcised the rotting karma of a generation on the outside: the losers, the homeless, those on the verge. The result was like napalm over a jungle canopy. Only those living underneath can feel the true effect.

Triple Fast Action, from Chicago, opened the evening with a set spawned from their soon-to-be-released album. Vocalist Wes Kidd and TFA warmed up the crowd with an inspired set of alterna-pop. In particular, "Revved Up" and "Sally Tree" showed a band ready to headline their own shows.

In the middle slot were Hagfish, from Dallas. Coming across as a hybrid of The Dickies and Cheap Trick, the quartet was most entertaining as spectacle. While the guitarist played the crowd with his posturing, the drummer, complete with pork-pie hat, twirled the sticks on virtually every song. Theatrics are fine, but eventually it's the music that counts. Cheap Trick have nothing to worry about.