Last night, I went to see Sugar Ray at a BBQ festival here in Fargo, ND (yes, that is a funny sentence). When I heard they were coming to Ribsfest, I laughed and pondered on why I would want to see them since I wasn’t crazy about their music when they were popular. Cheap admission and a lust for pulled-pork seemed like strange reasons to see a band play, but I knew a lot of people going so I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be there and hoped for a good story.
I had visions of Gin Blossoms dancing through my head (who I also wasn’t crazy about but saw anyway) and thought about the show they put on. It was clear that they weren’t super-excited to be playing venues like this, and just wanted to get the whole thing over with. I expected more of the same.
I live only a few blocks from the venue, and arrived home after work just in time to hear “Every Morning” floating through my neighborhood. As I walked down the street to their Greatest Hits Album live, I was thinking about the other stuff that I needed to be doing: laundry, dishes, staring at walls. I’ve got a lot on my plate.
Sugar Ray wasn’t the Gin Blossoms. I’m not saying the show blew my mind, but it was good. All the band members seemed like they were having a fun time and nobody was taking any of it very seriously. In fact, Sugar Ray played several covers and engaged a few audience members in a weird karaoke thing. It made sense; one of my chief concerns walking over was, “How the hell is Sugar Ray going to fill an hour and a half set?”
Did you know Mark McGrath competed in a wood-block competition? I didn’t either. He demonstrated this newly learned ability by playing the instrument through and entire song (not one of theirs) and dancing like a fool (not singing). My formal music training didn’t delve into the finer points of wood-block-ery so I’m not sure how to judge his virtuosity, but it was something fun to watch as I shoveled most of a pig into my face.
Kudos to Sugar Ray. They took a venue that other bands have brushed off as unworthy and made it a fun evening for their fans, and fans is what I mean. I left that concert with a different view on these guys and if they come back, I’ll be there without hesitation.