A few months back, we talked you through your options for two different upcoming 90's nostalgia cruises, one held by Summerland ringleader Mark McGrath, and the other with just... Matchbox 20. Well, things move fast, cruises have been getting some shitty (ha!) PR, and all of that advice is now moot.
Now, after some quick scrambling by organizers, we have a bunch of 90's nostalgia tours to sort through. Which is probably way more fun (and definitely less of a weird, intense commitment) than a cruise, anyway. But, then, all of them are vaguely "summer" themed, and faint rip-offs of one another—we've got "Summerland," "Under the Sun," and "Last Summer on Earth" to choose between—which makes it hard to decide where, exactly, you should allocate your precious $60 (and presumably the cost of like two dozen whiskey and Diet cokes the day of). Again, "none of them" is not an acceptable option. So, good thing we've come up with a totally comprehensive guide to the subtle differences between all of them, no?
So, this one is a sad, mixed bag. As I sort of assume all of our readers already know, last year marked Summerland's inaugural tour, which was headlined by Everclear and Sugar Ray, alongside Marcy Playground, The Gin Blossoms, and Lit. I went, and per the powers that be at The L Magazine (hi Mike!) was "not allowed to write about it." Whatever. It was one of the best ways I have ever blown money, thanks in no small part to the really pleasant, dad-vibing stage banter between Art Alexakis and Mark McGrath.
Who even knows what happened (creative differences? fights over allocation of stage time? jealousy over Mark McGrath's custom shamrock guitar?), but this year, Summerland is back pretty exclusively as an Everclear vehicle, with the sub-headline, "Alternative Guitars." The backing bands this time around are Live, Filter, and Sponge. Huh.
Best For: Everclear die-hards, and pretty much no one else. This is not the Summerland I once knew.
Otherwise known as the real Summerland. This one got thrown together after the cancellation of the "Mark McGrath and Friends" cruise, and what it's lost from the originally slated lineup (The Spin Doctors), it's gained in sheer numbers: Smash Mouth, The Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon, and Fastball are all on the bill. I know, I know, in a perfect world this wouldn't be Smash Mouth, but Sublime, reunited with a hologram Bradley Nowell. I don't make the rules. Just go smoke in the parking lot during "All Star" or whatever.
Best For: Stoners, of course, and anyone willing to ride the LIRR just to see Sugar Ray—their lineup so far doesn't include any NYC shows, and the closest is all the way in Huntington.
A clear misnomer, since this tour actually launched last year, and is, you know, happening for a second time. But, this year's concerts actually mark the 25th anniversary for its headliners, the Barenaked Ladies, which is pretty insane to think about. If you want to pretend to be nearby in the park "coincidentally" when they play the Prospect Park Bandshell (along with Ben Folds Five and Guster) this summer, that option is available to you.
Best For: Canadians, I guess.
Hey, you know who didn't give up the dream of a cruise? Matchbox 20. They are still, in spite of everything, holding their very own cruise, in early December. If anything embodies the quixotic, lavish spirit of The 90's better than this, I have yet to see it. Maybe I've been misjudging these guys for way too long.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.