Thursday, June 21, 2018

Me and Mark McGrath

You didn't know Sugar Ray lead singer, 3-time Rock and Roll Jeopardy Champion winner, and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Mark McGrath and I are friends, did you? Well, I can prove it since he responded to my tweet after performing at Celebrate Fairfax earlier this month.

I think it's fair to say that we're almost BFFs. Let's set the stage so to speak. The 2018 Celebrate Fairfax festival featured a twin bill of Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray on Saturday night. Gin Blossoms performed first and played a mix of their classic songs and new ones from a just-released album. Singer Robin Wilson has such a cool voice. After playing for about an hour, Wilson said good night and he and the band left the stage. We thought they were just doing the bit where the band leaves before the encore since they hadn't performed their two biggest songs, Hey Jealousy and Follow You Down. About 30 seconds later, Wilson came back and basically said, no, we're really saying good bye since there are thunderstorms in the area. Stay safe!

We got clarification that there were thunderstorms and it poured not too long after the announcement. (In hindsight, there would have been time for Gin Blossoms to play their last two songs, but you don't mess with safety at an outdoor concert.) After a 2-hour delay and fireworks through heavy rain, Sugar Ray appeared at 10:00. You could tell that the band was appreciative of the folks who stayed, and the people who stayed were excited to see Sugar Ray. Mark (we're on a first-name basis) really knows how to work the crowd. He admits that the band has 3-4 hit songs and is there to play these hits. (His 2013 interview in Rolling Stone shows this attitude.)

Throw in a cover of Blister in the Sun and a few lines of Sublime and you got yourself a show. He also made fun of the Gin Blossoms for leaving the stage for the pending thunderstorm and wanting the lights turned down earlier in their show since it was hot on stage, and then stuck his tongue out at Robin Wilson who was hanging out just off stage. There's definitely comradery there, and Wilson even came on and played the tambourine for a song or two. (Yes, that's Wilson next to the drums.)

(Gin Blossoms also posted McGrath and company playing Every Rose Has Its Thorn during the rain delay. Probably NSFW for a bad word or two in there.)

Every 🌹 Has Its Thorn: RW w/ #SugarRay

A post shared by Gin Blossoms (@ginblossomsaz) on

Oh, a personal highlight was McGrath emphatically stating that he is a LA Kings fan, just a few days after the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup. He got booed and gave props to the Caps, but I appreciate him not pandering to the crowd like Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Amazingly, despite seemingly everyone having their phones out during the show, I couldn't find any videos of the Sugar Ray show on YouTube. Fortunately, Jason captured a few seconds of Fly.

If you have a chance to see Sugar Ray, do it. You won't be disappointed.

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