My so-called summer concert series in Vegas: ’90s music takes center stage

The Barenaked Ladies bring their hit songs and lighthearted live performance style to fans in Vegas.

By Caroline Fontein

The temperature may be well over 100, but this summer in Vegas is all about the ’90s. Countless bands from that decade are heading to Sin City for summer concerts. From Everclear to Barenaked Ladies, Beck, Blues Traveler and Stone Temple Pilots, the roster reads like an infomercial for a “Best of the ’90s” CD. Get ready for your My So-Called summer of concerts in Vegas.

The ’90s music madness kicks off on at 8 p.m. June 30 with the Summerland Tour 2012 at Mandalay Bay Beach featuring Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit, Gin Blossoms and Marcy Playground. If you were born in the early ’80s, these groups created the soundtrack for your high school years. Who can forget when Lit exploded onto the music scene with “My Own Worst Enemy” or when Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath was rumored to be the same person as Vanilla Ice? It’s ’90s nostalgia you won’t want to miss reliving in Vegas.

Together, the five bands have produced hundreds of smash hit songs, resulting in millions of albums sold worldwide. More of the groups’ greatest hits include “I Will Buy You a New Life” (Everclear), “Fly” (Sugar Ray), “Miserable” (Lit), “Jealousy” (Gin Blossoms) and “Sex and Candy” (Marcy Playground).

On July 28 at 8 p.m. the city gets another hearty helping of decade-music decadence when Barenaked Ladies bring their Last Summer on Earth Tour to the Hard Rock Hotel. The tour also includes Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & The Monsters and Cracker. You’ll recognize radio hits from all four groups including  “The Old Apartment” (Barenaked Ladies), “Low” (Cracker), “Run-Around” (Blues Traveler) and “Bittersweet” (Big Head Todd & The Monsters.)  These bands may not be on the Top 10 charts anymore, but their notoriety as great live performers continues to draw fans.

“Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Cracker, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Blues Traveler and Barenaked Ladies are all part of a secret society, and we all worship the ancient Mayan civilization… This is like our coming out party really. It’s four bands who realize that the world is going to end,” joked Barenaked Ladies drummer Tyler Stewart.

His humorous personality is a big part of what makes the Barenaked Ladies such an endearing act to see live.  The group is known for peppering their sets with comic banter and improvisation between the band members and the audience.  If they see someone in the audience with an outstanding feature, like a big beard, they may even bring that person on stage and sing a song about them.

“It’s an ethic of being in the band. It’s a pact that our ears and our eyes are open, and we’ll take something and run with it when it happens,” said Stewart.

The improvisational element in their show is something the group has been doing since they formed in 1988. Performing together for so long enables them to create songs together on the spur of the moment.

“You start to know the instincts of the guy (another band member), where he’s going to go with it. That really helps, and it kind of fuels the confidence needed to spontaneously make up a song about the barbeque corn hut at the other side of the infield or whatever it happens to be,” said Stewart.

Barenaked Ladies are best known for their singles including “One Week,” “Pinch Me” and “If I Had $1000000.” If you didn’t hear it on the radio, you’re likely to recognize the song “One Week” from the 1999 teen comedy film “American Pie.”

The group has sold more than 15 million records and continues to release music.  “All in Good Time” was released in 2010 followed by “Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before” released in 2012.

Together Summerland and the Last Summer on Earth Tour make a pretty robust ’90s mix, but for those who want a more diverse catalog, see below. Here’s a listing of other ’90s bands performing in Vegas this summer and beyond.

  • July 21:  Sublime with Rome , Cypress Hill at 9 p.m. at Mandalay Bay Beach
  • July 27:  Reel Big Fish at 5 p.m. at House of Blues
  • July 27:  SRH Fest featuring Kottonmouth Kings at 8 p.m. at Hard Rock Hotel Pool
  • July 28:  SRH Fest featuring NOFX and Unwritten Law at 8 p.m. at Hard Rock Hotel Pool
  • Aug. 18:  Beck at 7:30 p.m. at Palms
  • Sept. 20: Stone Temple Pilots at 8 p.m. at Palms