I used to judge bands that would play casinos. Something about playing the casino circuit just screamed has-beens to me but, in recent years, more and more bands that I legit what to see perform have been playing them and I have found a love for these shows. There’s something about a casino atmosphere that I just love from the people watching to the excitement of the flashing lights and loud sounds. So yes, I was excited as my friend and I made the hour drive up to Hinckley, Minnesota for the show on Friday night. Not only did we give ourselves some extra time to lose some money that, in actuality, we shouldn’t have spent, we were about to see some of my favorite bands from my childhood.
Because I know my parents read this review, I won’t get into the gambling side of my night so let’s just start with the show which kicked off with Marcy Playground. Honestly, seeing Marcy Playground’s sound on a line-up was a huge surprise just because they are one of those one-hit wonder bands in my mind and I feel like they just haven’t done much as of late. Another huge surprise was hearing the band talk about how two of the three members are from Minneapolis. My mind was honestly a bit blown by that but, sadly, that’s about all about their set that blew my mind. It’s not that the band sounded bad or anything like that (honestly they sounded way better than the headliner but more on that later) and, obviously, hearing them play their 1997 hit “Sex and Candy” got the entire audience up on their feet but there was just nothing about their set that hooked me. It felt tired and just a little lackluster especially when compared to what was to come next. I can’t say I was bummed out about this as I wasn’t there to see this band and they were more of an added bonus for me but I just wish I had gotten more from them.
I got more than enough from Lit– the next band to play. My friends know I’m obsessed with Lit’s 1999 hit single “My Own Worst Enemy”. It’s one of those songs that I put on when I have no clue what else to listen to and it always instantly brings a smile to my face. Honestly, I had honed in so hard on that song that I completely forgot about all of the other classics that Lit sang but, thankfully, they gave them all to the audience on Friday and then some. Their fifteen song set was full of hits lik “Zip-Lock” and “Miserable” but also had their new song “The Life That I Got” thrown in there along with a cover that I didn’t quite recognize (I think it may have been a The Cars cover but, again, don’t quote me on that). Regardless of what song they were playing, this band was giving the audience everything they had. It may have been a few decades since the heyday of this band but you honestly couldn’t tell that with the way they had me and the rest of the audience captivated.
I feel bad praising Lit when I feel like I kind of bashed Marcy Playground and really had to think long and hard on this. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t giving Lit props just because they are one of my go-to bands and that’s one of the reasons this review is being posted a bit later than usual (well that and I definitely slept in after making the drive home late last night). My bias aside, I really need to praise Lit on their performance. From their dramatic introduction which definitely set the stage for the audience’s entrance into “Litville” to the performance of their bangers sprinkled in with newer tracks and some B-sides, I just feel like everything this band did came with a flawless sense of energy and heart.
Headliners Everclear definitely brought that same sense of energy and heart to the Grand Casino stage on Friday night but, sadly, something got lost in translation due to sound issues that seemed to plague the set. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that Everclear is “my band”. Much like Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” song, Everclear is one of those bands that I can put on at any time of any day or night and they just do it for me. It’s part nostalgia and part “hit to the gut” lyrics when it comes to my love for this band and although I have seen them perform numerous times (including, most recently, last summer), I will never pass up an opportunity if I ever get a chance to see them.
I was honestly a bit surprised by how much the sound issues were bugging me throughout the nearly twenty-song set. Don’t get me wrong, I still sang along to my all-time favorites including “Wonderful”, “Father of Mine”, and “I Will Buy You a New Life” but, even on those, I feel like hearing iconic singer Art Alexakis’ vocals was a task and, for me, that’s the best part of this band. There’s just something about Art’s way with words that has always drawn me to this band. I will for always refer to their hit single “Wonderful” as “the divorce song” because it was an anthem I relied on heavily after my parents got divorced but I digress. Having to stand there and watch this iconic and personal favorite act while not being able to hear the vocals was like torture and, if I’m being honest, at one point my friend and I stepped out of the showroom and went back to the slots for a hot minute hoping that when we got back, everything would have changed.
Although the sound was a little bit better when we got back, we also got back right around 10 PM. The band still had about half a dozen songs left but the house lights were being flicked on and off as if signalling the end of the show. I was worried that the band was going to roll over and take it by ending the set early but, instead, Art said some snarky threat to whoever was flicking the lights and just kept going. I’m glad they did because the ending of their set had the energy and fire that I love about this band and I felt was lacking from the first couple of songs.
Friday night’s set from Everclear wasn’t my favorite set I’ve seen them perform and that really bummed me out but I still loved seeing them perform. The icing on the cake was running into multiple friends from here in the cities at the show. I don’t think my friend and I were expecting to see anyone we knew but I loved realizing that I wasn’t the only one with a 90s obsession and crappy sound or not, I loved witnessing these nostalgic sounds and vibes with some damn good friends by my side.
Venue: Grand Casino Hinckley
Average Age of the Crowd: 35
Crowd Surfers- None
Stage Divers- None
Dance-ability- 4 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 6 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
Randomly Shirtless Men – 0
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – None Spotted
How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Marcy Playground – 0
Lit – 1
Everclear – 6
Celebrity Sightings – All of my friends who are the true MVPs!
Overall Score- 7.6 out of 10
Show on Deck — Koo Koo Kanga Roo (at Rock the Cradle– this will be interesting)
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