Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
Live music finally returned on what would have been my father’s 87th birthday. He was an incredible musician, so the irony of this date seems to be quite appropriate. The Heartland Tour touched down at Piere’s in Ft. Wayne, IN on 7/17/21 and featured Everclear, Living Colour, Hoobastank, and Wheatus. Heartland was originally put together by Art Alexakis of Everclear in 2012 as an annual tour to feature bands from the 1990’s. This installment is the seventh overall, and the first since 2018. Wheatus came out first and delivered a fun and energized set, with the seven members of the band squeezed tightly at the very front of the stage due to all the equipment from the other bands being set up behind them. Despite the lack of stage space, the band managed to play a pretty physical show, with two drum sets taking up the center of the stage and the rest of the band situated to the right and left of them. Brendan B. Brown, the charismatic lead vocalist/guitarist and only remaining original member of Wheatus told amusing anecdotes about dressing up as Angus Young not once, but two years in a row during his adolescence as a prelude to Temporary Song that segued into a smoking cover of AC/DC’s Rock And Roll Damnation. The dual drum kits were utilized to the fullest, with the drummers switching places during one of the early highlights of a short set that was full of great moments, including the awesome Lemonade and culminating in the crowd pleasing Teenage Dirtbag. Hoobastank followed with a more traditional lineup of drums, bass, guitar, and lead vocals. Their set went over well with the crowd, who were happy to yell and scream loudly and enthusiastically when singer Doug Robb informed us we were the best audience of the tour so far. The big power ballad The Reason gave the first big singalong moment of the show and everyone boosted the energy to epic proportions leading into the finale of Crawling In The Dark. Nothing that either of the first two bands did was remotely close to the volcanic fusillade of power that Living Colour were getting ready to unleash on us. As soon as Corey Glover, Vernon Reid, Doug Wimbish, and Will Calhoun hit the stage, the energy level and the bar were set to an intensity that was impossible to deny. From the opening frenzy of Type, an absolutely astonishing 11 minute trip through a funky, metallic, gospel influenced extended reading of Open Letter (To A Landlord), a thrashy modal jazz mashup of Time’s Up, the irresistibly funky and sexy Love Rears Its Ugly Head, and the massive power of the Cult Of Personality, Living Colour’s four members displayed a flawless blending of their considerable individual mastery of their respective instruments. This cohesive blend is known as chemistry in musical terms, and it was a wonder to behold. Of course, being that this tour is the baby of Art Alexakis, his band Everclear claimed the headlining slot, but there was no possible way they were going to top Living Colour’s performance. There’s no disgrace in that, and Everclear came out swinging, delivering a solid show full of their best songs, including Everything To Everyone, a spirited Heroin Girl, my favorite Everclear song (Father Of Mine), I Will Buy You A New Life, So Much For The Afterglow, and Molly’s Lips. After the drought of live shows in the pandemic age, I think most of us would settle for nearly anything in a live show just to be in our element again. Thanks to Art Alexakis for delivering a collection of bands that still have a lot of great music to share with the world, and in particular for booking the incomparable Living Colour. Thanks also to Tommy Williams from Zombie Tom Photography for hooking me up with tickets for this fantastic return to my beloved live concerts. I feel like a giant void has been filled, and this is thankfully just the beginning!