Supporting Smash Mouth in Brisbane was the electrifying Aussie ska-punk band, Area 7. They rocked the venue as it was filling almost entirely to capacity, conversing honestly and humbly with the audience between covers and originals that were riddled with bobbing brass solos and punchy vocals. Start Making Sense and Nobody Likes A Bogan, both from their 2000 and 2001 records respectively, were two particular highlights of the night, but the crowd got really into it during their cover of The Angel’s classic, Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again, perfectly setting us up and getting us keen for the main event of the night. And alas, by the time Area 7 left the stage, we were ready, in the best way possible, for Smash Mouth.
Most would believe that in 2018, Smash Mouth has found itself in a peculiar and unfounded position. Seemingly unforgivingly placed in the one hit wonder basket thanks to their millennial anthem All-Star, one which also happens to be the song most associated with the Shrek franchise, not only has the band tried everything over the years to dispel rumours of it being their first and/or only chart-topper (trolling twitter users who even so much as link the track with the film), but they’ve also actively celebrated that fact, basking in the limelight that the association has warranted. Bought back in full effect by the 90’s nostalgic meme culture (most notably the tongue-in-cheek Jon Sudano covers), people seemingly began to appreciate the song more and it catapulted back into the heads of the 90’s kids, though it came at the cost of it largely being perceived as a meme in itself (aka, a song to shout at the top of your lungs, but not necessarily a benchmark of a successful band with many great, serious and reflective songs worthy of our attention).
Because of this, it wasn’t until I arrived at the Eatons Hill Hotel on the outskirts of Brisbane that I realised just how many Smash Mouth songs I actually knew, just how many of them I could chant along to, and just how good they were. And I know I wasn’t alone.
Taking the stage at 9:30 pm wearing sunglasses and a simple tee shirt and jeans combo, lead singer Steve Hardwell nodded at us all before the band pummelled through the ? And The Mysterians cover, Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby, before continuing with Pacific Coast Party, two songs we all knew the band sang but forgot thanks to All Star. A cover of War’s Why Can’t We Be Friends, followed by another forgotten hit, Then The Morning Comes swiftly followed, earning more surprised widened eyes from a portion of the audience, the same portion that, as if they’d listened to it on their way to the concert, began to sing almost every word.
This was a common theme throughout the night and Harwell was very aware of that, openly acknowledging halfway into the set that he understands that most people are here for the top 3 songs in the bands’ repertoire, before urging those people to “try to have fun until we get there.” The energy was high as drummer Randy Cooke and guitarist Greg Camp played their roles to perfection, blasting through the first of said three songs Walking on the Sun, their 1997 single that holds the distinction of actually putting the band on the map. Michael Klooster was king of the keys and Paul DeLisle slapped the bass to perfection, rounding out this ‘All Star’ band.
During Stoned and Road Man, Harwell invited all ‘his ladies’ up on stage and twenty or so woman, young and old happily obliged, dancing with, taking selfies with and snapchatting the band as they acknowledged and appeased the women on stage, confusing a lot of the rest of us in the process. Throughout this, someone in the crowd heckled, in which the lead singer unabashedly exclaimed that he should “Shut the f%@k up. I speak, you listen.” For a lot of the audience, it was surprising to hear those words coming out of the mouth of someone we all associate with our favourite childhood film, but in a big way it’s completely our fault. On a general basis, as a generation of sentimental appreciation, we couldn’t see the band for the songs they’d worked so hard to perfect spanning two whole decades, instead of associating them only with a few songs that we were re-familiarised with because of internet memes.
After that moment, a majority of the audience took their rose-tinted All Star glasses off and jammed along with the band as they energetically roared through the undeniably catchy Always Gets Her Way, So Insane and a headbanging cover of the Kinks classic You Really Got Me. The energy from the room was at its highest, people finally fully being in the moment with the band and the band paying them back with an equal amount of energy. They then left the stage, and that’s when the audience erupted, putting the glasses back on.
‘ENCORE, ENCORE, ENCORE.’
And encore, they got. The band returned, nodding their heads as if to say ‘It’s time. Are you ready?’ They then proceeded to tear the house down with their classic rendition of I’m A Believer, before, without a second thought, rightly ending the night with All Star, the mosh jumping and screaming the chorus in unison while the cheap-seaters did exactly the same.
All in all, it was an interesting concert experience. There was a bit of confusion and apathy sprinkled into the 16-song set, but everyone who attended got what they came for, as well as a lot more. It was surprising to a lot of concert-goers just how many songs we knew like the back of our hand, and amongst the many highs and few lows of the set, it was ultimately fulfilling hearing what we all came to hear, with a lot more forgotten nostalgia and newfound appreciation stacked on top.
Review Contributed by Sam Sciacca
Gallery Contributed by Elizabeth Sharpe