Work sucks. You know it, I know it, and anyone who has ever had to clean a restaurant bathroom knows it. Sometimes, you need to check out of life during the middle of the week, even for just a few sweet hours. On a hot, sticky Tuesday night, there’s no better place to be than at a rock show, especially one featuring four killer bands you grew up listening to. The Gen-X Summer Tour rolled into Corpus Christi on August 21st, bringing back memories of good times and bad decisions made during the wild nights of our carefree youth. Buckcherry, P.O.D., Lit, and Alien Ant Farm all played in front of a lively group of South Texas rockaholics under the Pavilion at Concrete Street Amphitheater, and concerns about the toils of adulthood were quickly forgotten by all who attended.
The show kicked off at 7pm with a brief but high-energy set from Alien Ant Farm. The Riverside, California quartet played several songs from their well-received second studio album, ANThology, and the crowd was with them all the way. Fan favorites like “Movies”, “Courage”, “Attitude”, and, of course, their hit rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”, were offered up to the ever-growing audience and were well-received. The band grew more confident with every song and were dripping sweat and enthusiasm by the time they played their funky, rockin’ cover of the King of Pop. While we were all surprised by the length of their set (they played for about 25 minutes), Alien Ant Farm showed all the attitude and spirit of a fiery, driven young band, leaving the audience impressed but hungry for more.
All Photos-Rob Gomez
Lit was ready to feed the need… the need for Tom Petty. (Huh?) Lit caught all of us off-guard by coming onstage and launching directly into a cover of the late Mr.Petty’s 70’s masterpiece, “American Girl”, and they did a damn fine job of it. As it turns out, the latest offering from the guys in Lit, These Are the Days, showcases a more country/folky rock sound, a stark contrast from their punk, post-grunge, and alternative roots. They still have the energy and mischievous onstage antics of a rock band, but they weren’t afraid to get mellow on newer songs like “Good Problem to Have” and “Someday Maybe”. The country-rock textures gave the good-time rockers a worldly, mature sound that appealed to the audience, who, like the band, have found maturity through their own respective journeys… but we all came to rock, and rock we did. Lit reached back in time and pulled out several choice selections from their 1999 classic, A Place in the Sun, including “Four”, “Zip-Lock”, and “Miserable”. They masterfully blended “The Last Time Again”, from 2001’s Atomic, with a verse from the Cars’ “Just What I Needed”, which blew the minds of many tipsy Gen-X’ers and prompted a slurred, predictable sing-a-long. The finale of their well-rounded, feel-good set was the 90’s anthem, “My Own Worst Enemy”, their ode to poor-decision making and out-of-control house parties. We sang, we bounced, and we cheered as Lit took a bow. The Pavilion was buzzing, obviously impressed by the solid performances of the first two bands, but the night was far from over, and the beer was nice and cold.
I believe that there are two types of people- people who love P.O.D., and dirty liars. Luckily, the audience at Concrete Street was honest and extremely enthusiastic in their response to P.O.D.’s career-encompassing, dynamic set. The band came out swinging with “Boom”, a single from their multi-platinum album Satellite. Frontman Sonny Sandoval was focused and intense, and he sensed that his audience was in the same mood. As I photographed him during the first song of their set, I noticed a mischievous look cross his face. With a glare and a smirk, he jumped offstage and onto the rail separating the crowd from the stage. I keep snapping photos as Sandoval shook hands and took pictures with his fans, continuing to sing and perform. The band played on, not missing a beat. The love the band shares with its fans, and vise versa, is palpable, and the good vibes continued to grow stronger. P.O.D. is a monster live, and their chemistry is infectious. The 4-piece has been together since the early 90’s, and it’s easy to see they still get a kick out of playing together. Guitarist Marcus Curiel rocked out when he needed to, but knew when to keep it groovy, and the lethal combination of bassist Traa Daniels and drummer Wuv Bernardo made for a tight rhythm that never let up, even when it slowed down. They played the songs that skyrocketed them to superstardom in the early 2000’s, as well as some older cuts that fans know and love, like “Southtown” and “ Rock the Party (Off the Hook)”. “Youth of the Nation” and “Satellite” got a huge response, as did the hard-hitting 2017 single, “Soundboy Killa”. When Sandoval asked Corpus Christi to make the biggest mosh pit the city had ever seen, they happily obliged. Finally, after a set of non-stop intensity, the band encouraged the crowd to sing along to it’s nu-metal anthem, “Alive”. They couldn’t have picked a better finale. P.O.D. is one of those bands that had so much crossover appeal in their heyday that they’ve never really lost any fans, especially because they’ve always been so humble and positive. They are pioneers of the nu-metal sound, but they’re so much more than that, and seeing them perform live is a must if one wishes to see the depth and versatility of the band.
When you’re drunk, high, and you’ve been rocked by 3 amazing bands, there’s usually not much else to be said for the night, but Josh Todd and the boys in Buckcherry refused to be denied the last word. Once they reached the stage, the band wasted no time, launching straight into the opening riff of “Ridin’”. Todd, the long, lean frontman of the band, channeled Mick Jagger and Axl Rose as he danced around the stage, playing his tambourine, moving and shaking his snake-like figure to the beat. He had a devilish grin and his eyes flashed intentions that would have made a nun blush and cross herself. From songs about crazy sex (“Slammin’” and “Too Drunk”) to tunes about drugs and excess (“Lit Up” and “Gluttony”), Buckcherry covered all the standard rock topics, and in splendid fashion. They were loud, crude, and didn’t give a shit… they rocked! They’re your older brothers rock band, a throwback from the days when rock was forbidden, dangerous, and exciting. Though the band has gone through some line-up changes recently, guitarists Stevie D and Kevin Roentgen kept the savage guitar riffs coming all night long while the rhythm section of Kelly Lemieux and Sean Winchester kept the audience on their feet and feeling sweet.
Though we all reveled in the songs about sex, drugs, and partying, the band showed their fans another side of themselves on tunes like “Rescue Me”, which Todd introduced by telling the audience he wrote the song after reading the book “A Child Called ‘It’”. The autobiography is one of child abuse and horror, and the lyrics of “Rescue Me” are a cry for a helping hand and a lift off the ground . Then, there was the bizarre but hilarious cover of Swedish duo Icona Pop that Buckcherry made their own. “Say Fuck It” had the crowd roaring with laughter and singing along with drunken glee. They know how to throw a party.
At the end of the night, Todd asked the audience what song we wanted to hear before the show ended, and a chorus of inebriated angels shouted “Crazy Bitch!” Todd laughed, teasing us. “Oh, you wanna hear ‘Puta Loca’?!” The guitar chords dropped, and everyone screamed. As he worked the stage, thrusting and shaking his hips, Todd shouted his signature “Alrighhhhttttt!” It was, truly, all right. Buckcherry reminded us all that they carry the torch of the good-time rock-n-roll bands that came before them. The spirit of bands like The Stones, Aerosmith, and Guns N’ Roses lives through them, and maybe one day, through some of the impressionable young musicians that were watching them in slack-jawed awe from the front row. That’s how rock-n-roll stays alive, after all.
Work sucks… especially the day after a killer show. But we drag ourselves out of bed, get dressed, punch the clock, and push through it. The bands we love, those guitar-slinging desperados that rock us to our core and remind us that music is the love that brings us all together and makes us feel alive, move on to another city and another show. We play the concert in our heads over and over, and the memories of the good times and great music sustain us, giving us a well of laughter and joy to draw from that gets us through the shittier parts of our daily lives. We remember running into our friends, or making friends in the crowd, and how we watched the crazy people who were stoned out of their gourds, stumbling drunk, dancing like they were the only people left on the face of the Earth. The experience of going to a show like the Gen-X Summer Tour is one that we should always appreciate, because it’s invaluable. Bands like Buckcherry, P.O.D., Lit, and Alien Ant Farm are the keepers of a vital musical sacrament, and it can only be properly administered live and in person. When a tour like this comes through your town, you show up, you show out, and you party like you don’t care about tomorrow… even on a Tuesday night.