Photos and review by Merideth C.
For the 2nd year in a row, the Under the Sun tour brought a handful of awesome 90’s Pop and Alternative Rock nostalgia to the stage at DTE Energy Music Theatre on Friday, July 11, 2014. This year’s lineup included Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Blue’s Traveler, and Metro Detroit native Uncle Kracker. Last year’s event was one of the most popular and talked about shows of the summer. This year had a lot to live up to and it more than delivered. This was a true sing-a-long show; each of the bands have multiple catchy hits that everyone remembers.
The first band to play was Sugar Ray. Lead singer Mark McGrath was full of energy. Moving quickly around the stage and getting the growing crowd pumped up. McGrath clearly has a liking for shamrocks; his in-ear monitors, several of his tattoos, and his guitar all display them. In the case of the guitar, a bright green Gibson Les Paul with white shamrocks, even has custom shamrock shaped tuners. Sugar Ray is one of those bands you can’t help but think of when you consider what you heard on the radio in the late 90’s. They are a staple and have a good amount of hits that the crowd loved singing along with. My friend Dave Hassett, who was at the show, said, “Sugar Ray was the exact same as when I saw them 10 years ago. It’s good that they have stayed true to their style and fans.”
The second act to perform was Smash Mouth. Known for their beach party style pop rock, Smash Mouth had no trouble keeping the party going. If their hits weren’t enough, lead singer Steve Harwell lead the crowd in singing several covers from ? and the Mysterians, War, and the Kinks. And of course they played their hit cover of the Monkees “I’m a Believer.” They ended their set with “All Star,” which the crowd absolutely ate up. After their set, lead guitarist Sean Hurwitz was signing autographs for fans and was a huge hit with the ladies.
Blues Traveler came to the stage and brought the greatest amount of musical sophistication of the night. Lead singer John Popper’s blazingly fast harmonica solos blew me away. They sounded so crisp and you could clearly hear every note. Lead guitarist Chan Kinchla, who plays on a custom model PRS guitar, played with so much energy and seemed to genuinely be having a great time on stage. I loved hearing them play “Run-Around,” which was a favorite of mine from that era of music. A little out of the ordinary was Popper’s choice of drink on stage: hot tea.
The final act of the night was Mount Clemens native, Uncle Kracker. The band got a huge reaction from the crowd as they walked out on the stage. Uncle Kracker waited off stage and came out separately with his arms outstretched to huge cheers. Everyone was dancing and having a great time throughout the entire set. Uncle Kracker seemed to be really enjoying himself and had his typical half-smirk on his face for most of the show which allowed you to see the star tattoo on his front tooth. He ended the show and the night with a cover of Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long.” It was the perfect song to end a fun, nostalgia-filled summer night.