There was something rather creepy about the way Brett Scallions of Fuel announced to the First Union Center, “Tonight we’re celebrating the death of one of rock’s greatest songwriters, John Lennon.”
Celebrating? Isn’t that a little…er, twisted? Apparently the crowd of this year’s Y100 Feastival didn’t think so, since they erupted into joyous screams as soon as they realized that Scallions was recognizing the fact that December 8th was the 20th anniversary of Lennon’s shooting. Fuel paid homage to the “walrus” by playing a punked-up Beatles classic “Revolution,” and promising that every band who took the stage that night would cover a song penned by Lennon.
Sadly, the remaining bands didn’t deliver. Everclear played a straight set of their own tunes, and the confused Wallflowers covered two songs by British bands who aren’t the Beatles (“We Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who, and “Song 2” by Blur…yes, the “Woo-hoo!” song).
Only Live came through, playing the arena-rock take on “Imagine” that they’ve been doing on tour since their latest, The Distance To Here, came out last fall. This was preceded by a brief intermissionary montage of video clips showing Lennon alone, Lennon with The Beatles, or Lennon with Yoko Ono, all set to his music. This managed to elicit ample cheering from the audience, but wound up looking rather pretentious. Call me a cynic, but the closest I’ve seen Y100 recognize Lennon’s existence prior to this was their support of Oasis.
The whole Beatles thing aside, the night was toned down as compared to last year. Fuel gave a solid set, which managed to show that “Hemorrhage” and “Shimmer” are hardly representative of the hard-rocking nature of their work. However, Scallions seemed to be on a rock-star ego trip. He appeared onstage in a fur coat, dark shades, and a cowboy hat, looking frighteningly like the antichrist…er, like Kid Rock. His full-of-himself mannerisms throughout their set became annoying rather quickly…but hey, the band was decent.
For a group that has managed to write the same song 63 times over the course of their career, Everclear gave a rollicking good set that delved quite nicely into the breadth of their catalogue, from 1995’s rocker “Heroin Girl” to this year’s cutesy “Wonderful.” Singer Art Alexakis did a fine job of keeping his gratuitous use of the word “fuck” in check over the course of the night, and bassist Craig Montoya – who resembled a sort of bug crawling about the stage – kept his typical obnoxiousness toned down as well. One of the night’s most amusing moments came when, during the song “Santa Monica,” the heretofore tame audience began to massively crowd surf to the refrain of “We can live beside the ocean, leave the fire behind, swim out past the breakers, watch the world die.”
The Wallflowers gave an especially weak set outside of cover-song confusion. After a promising start, Jacob Dylan announced “I suppose since this is a radio show, you want to hear radio songs…” At which point they launched into “6th Ave. Heartache”, “One Headlight,” “The Difference,” and their cover of Bowie’s “Heroes.” If this reliance on familiarity didn’t bring them down, Jacob Dylan’s laughably apathetic performing manner did. He maintained a constant look of “I am SOOO not into this” on his face, even during more upbeat tunes. A big disappointment, to say the least.
Live redeemed the night, however, delivering a fantastic set. Despite the faux pas of opening with one of their biggest hits (“Lightning Crashes”), they still drove their way through excellent performances of “They Stood Up For Love,” “Voodoo Lady,” “All Over You,” and “Lakini’s Juice.” A new hard rocking tune called “Deep Enough” was featured, which seemed to be a giant metaphor for the relationship between penis size and female orgasm…especially seeing as how Ed Kowalczyk dedicated the song “to the ladies.” They were tight and fantastic performers, as always, and were an absolute joy to watch.
While the show didn’t quite live up to the fantastic 1999 Feastival, it made for…if nothing else…an amusing evening.