Gigs: Summerland Tour-RAGBRAI-Filter & Sponge

Waited a long time to see this group live. They delivered

Waited a long time to see this group in person. They delivered


The Summerland Tour (link) is making its way through the States as I type this and Des Moines, IA was fortunate to be included in as a tour stop. Not only did we get quality bands like Sponge, Filter,  Live, and Everclear; the show was put on for RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) and no admission was required to see this great event. Filter was the main draw for me as they have been one of my favorite bands for a long time. Their first two albums are pure gold (Short Bus & Title of Record) and they easily fall in my top 10 albums from the entire 90’s decade. What has sadly gone unnoticed around these parts is that they are still putting out top-notch music (as made evident by their new album) and their efforts to reach out to their fans is second to none.

I ended up being very impressed by the entire event as a whole. There was no shortage of good food stands and craft brew tents for all of the spectators. It has been 16 years since RAGBRAI last stopped in Des Moines and with their ability to host an event of this capacity compared to any other city in Iowa, I hope they consider coming here more often…even though I’m not a biker whatsoever and in general have the disposition that they’re all like this guy…

Sponge was the first act and played only 5 songs. Sponge was mainly known for their debut album Rotting Pinata. The majority of the songs they played were from this album. However, frontman Vinnie Dombrowski (dead ringer for Scott Weiland in my opinion, looks and voice) has kept the group going all the way since their arrival in ’91. They’ve continued to produce music the whole way and have came out with seven total albums. They sounded great live and they capped their stage time with their biggest single “Plowed”. I was glad they played one of their lesser known, but still great tracks that was the title track of their first album and is posted below for your enjoyment. They were a great lead-off act.

Then it was time for the headliner (for me, anyway). Made my way to the front of the stage and was probably about 10-15 rows of people back. Ironically, my fixation over discovering new music and keeping up with the industry has not resulted in me catching as many live shows as I would like to. Geography plays a small part in that, but overall I’ve been slacking on seeing top bands perform live.

Filter is currently touring and promoting their 6th studio album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight. It’s a fantastic album, filled with plenty of heavy hitters and a few ballad style tracks as well. It’s vintage Filter and it’s awesome that Richard Patrick is still keeping the project going and making an effort to hit as many cities as possible. He’s never sold out and he knows that ultimately it’s his songwriting ability and the talent around him that keeps the fans coming to see their shows.

Their lead-off track came as a surprise to me…they started things off with “Trip Like I Do“, which was a collaborative effort with The Crystal Method. It’s a killer song and got the crowd into it right off the bat. The energy level was high and it continued into the next three songs that were off their new album. The highlight of those for me is their track, “What Do You Say”.  A medium paced heavier song that has lots of Patrick’s signature screaming and an awesome post chorus with the Oh-Oh’s. It’s simply not possible to rock any harder than this…

After that, they had to do their obligatory pleasing of the masses and play some of their biggest hits. Rich was very genuine and funny just before this part (got a kick out of “are you excited to see the Filters?” line).   I was fine with them doing “Hey Man, Nice Shot”, but I wished they would have taken a pass on “Take a Picture”.   It’s a great song, no doubt, but I thought it took some of the energy away from the crowd. Ideally, they would have played “The Best Things” or “The Only Way is The Wrong Way” if they were looking to take a break from their heavier stuff.

After their set, Rich announced that he was signing autographs at the merch tent. I could not have been more impressed by what a class act he was, signing multiple items for each fan and snapping photos for anyone that asked. Very personable and courteous to everyone that waited in line to talk with him. Clearly, he is doing what he loves and takes the time to thank all the fans who help make it possible. Next time Filter is performing around the Des Moines area, I highly recommend that you check them out. If you’re already a fan and want to see them in your city, you can help to make that possible by contributing to their world tour here. You are rewarded for your efforts as their are many perks to contributing such as signed posters, albums, apparel, or perks all the way up to meeting with band members, choosing the setlist, and even playing with the band. Trust me, they put out a quality product and are doing all the rights things to get as many fans involved as possible. Kudos to this superb group, they are the epitome of what a great rock band should be.

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Quick Hitters…forgotten grunge gems from the 90’s

In this day and age, you can easily log on to your Compaq Presario and read about the infinitely influential musical era that was the 90’s grunge movement. In this article that is most likely being viewed on Wikipedia, you will read how transcendent this movement was and how it changed the course of rock music forever. You will undoubtedly read about bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and many, many more. If it’s a more astutely written article by someone who is looking to inform the reader beyond what is already known, the focus will be more along the lines of groups such as Sonic Youth, The Pixies, or Mudhoney. The videos I’ve posted for today will be for the bands that got off to a good start and put out some bitchin’ tunes, but never seemed to gain much notoriety and most people today wouldn’t know who they are.

No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as cool as we once thought we were


“Jessie” appears to be a sad song about a boy and his dog. His exploits include, but are not limited to, losing him, leaving him out in the cold, and being emotionally neglectful in general. Paw, however, is able to take this depressing concept and turn it into a rather  enjoyable track. It starts out raw but has a redeeming chorus that was a staple of being  a quality grunge hit back then. Introducing some country elements (@1:52) was not. Along with the guitar, it is pulled off very well and does not take anything away from this stellar track.

Swervedriver-Girl on a Motorbike

Now for a group I’d bet the ranch on you never hearing of before (hate it when I find myself using idioms such as this. I mean, in what day and age did ranch owners recklessly use their family owned lots of land as wagers in their seemingly meaningless bets against one another? It seems a tad rash to me, but hey…I’ve never owned a ranch before. Perhaps the power that goes to one’s head after becoming the solitary proprietor of said ranch unleashes a cavalier side of them that was previously undiscovered and is just too much for any human man to keep in check).  Back to the song…”Girl on a Motorbike” grabs you right from the git-go and takes you to downersville. The lyrics are slightly darker than Paw’s “Jessie” and the song’s more down-tempo as well. Despite all this grimness taking place, I think the song still has a rather pleasant flow to it. The guitar riffs are smooth and not overbearing. The verses are the best part of the while the chorus is serviceable. Adam Franklin is a talented vocalist and his efforts should not go unnoticed.

A little comic relief intermission for the post, a reminder of what we had to put up with before grunge’s arrival…


Pavement could probably have at least 5 songs that would fit the distinction of lost gems from the 90’s. The only song of theirs that I hear on the radio anymore is “Cut Your Hair.” It must be the shouting lyric of “NO BIG HAIR!” that has allowed to stand out amongst the rest. The song I’ve posted is “Frontwards”. The songs consists mostly of some of the best guitar riffs to come out of that era, and that’s saying something. It also contains classic Pavement lyrics that are funny and not to be taken seriously.