The Michigan alt-rock heroes and California kids brought nostalgic ’90s magic and more to Meijer Gardens for a fan-pleasing, sold-out show on Sunday. Review, photos at Local Spins.
Like a trip back in time, it was nothing but ’90s love for fans of The Verve Pipe and Toad the Wet Sprocket Sunday night.
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Both bands did that decade proud during the sold-out, co-headlining show, rolling out hit after hit to a mass of fun-loving Grand Rapids fans at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
One would be hard-pressed to match up a better pair of complementary bands, both of which enjoyed platinum-selling success early in their careers and continued to wow audiences decades later.
A burst of rain showers seemed to surprise most at Meijer Gardens as Sunday’s festivities kicked off. Hundreds of fans took what little cover they could under tents and in restrooms as The Verve Pipe took the stage.
That didn’t seem to bother the Grand Rapids band, which quickly reclaimed the crowd’s attention with a fantastic display of talent and energy. Rolling out hits including “Colorful” and “Photograph” as well as new fan favorites such as “I Can’t Get You Off of My Mind,” the band seemed vital as ever.
And frontman Brian Vander Ark just seems to get better with age, confidently belting melodies he first sang more than 20 years ago.
CLOUDS PART, SING-ALONGS ENSUE
Serendipitously, the sun peeked out from the clouds as Vander Ark and guitarist Lou Musa eased into the band’s smash hit “The Freshmen.” Much of the audience sang along to every word of the song and uttered the loudest cheers of the night after each ehorus. (Watch video snippet below.)
Flexing its muscles once more in closing, the band worked up a sweat with its heavy alt-rock jam “Medicate Myself,” which brought the now exuberant crowd to its feet.
The hits kept coming when Toad the Wet Sprocket took the stage. Singer-songwriter Glen Phillips and company performed hits such as “Walk the Ocean” and the undeniable “All I Want” with flawless execution.
The band’s sound really is something to marvel at. Whether it was the tone of a constantly rotating collection of custom guitars, booming toms work on the drums or the melodic peppering in of a lap steel, the atmosphere created in service of Phillips’ vocals.
“You look clean,” joked Phillips to the crowd, which didn’t seem bothered by the rain that preceded.
As the sun set and the audience dried off, a colorful light show lit the stage in its place. That was quite fitting for the shift in mood brought by the band’s relaxing songs.
I began to think during “Don’t Fade,” a lesser-known song by Toad the Wet Sprocket, that I was hearing Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.” The band seems to have weaponized that expectation, as Phillips began melding the two songs together about halfway through.
Like most of the Toad the Wet Sprocket’s set, “blissful” might be the best way to describe it.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Verve Pipe, Toad the Wet Sprocket at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Anthony Norkus
VIDEO: “The Freshmen”
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