In a random near last minute turn of events, I ended up interviewing Mark McGrath over the phone and getting access to photograph Sugar Ray the next night in Laughlin.
Being a fan for 21 years, and not just one that knew 1-4 of the radio hits, this was a pretty damn awesome experience. Mark gave me an hour of his time to discuss his career and I’m very thankful for that. The show itself was quite literally on a beach, on the backside of the Harrah’s hotel, right along the river. I wasn’t sure what the venue situation was gonna be like, and I still didn’t know until after getting through security. It was bigger than I anticipated, in a good way, but holy hell was it hot AND humid. I took off my over shirt within 5 minutes of getting up to the front because I was already juicing, and it never stopped until I got to my car 2 1/2 hours later. I can only imagine what it was like on the stage with the lights in their face and the equipment.
As expected, Sugar Ray performed many of their most well known songs, a couple fresh ones, a couple old school ones, and some covers. The covers: “Blister in the Sun” by The Violent Femmes, “Unbelievable” by EMF, “Blitzkrieg Bop” by Ramones, and a little bit of “What I Got” by Sublime. It was a solid night of fun, rock n roll, goofiness, chicks in bikinis, a lot of alcohol, and pretty much the definition of summer in general. Then again, that’s what sums up Sugar Ray isn’t it?
The sound production wasn’t the best, which I’m sure is 100% due to the venue and their equipment. But I’ve heard much worse, and I ain’t one to complain anyway.
My most favorite part of the night: Aside from when they busted out “Mean Machine”, before they started the 2nd song of the set, “Someday”, Mark dedicated the song to my dad and I. My dad passed away almost a month ago, and for his memorial, I had used the song in a tribute DVD I made because my dad always liked it. I told Mark about it after our interview, and I guess it’s safe to assume he was touched by it. Not as much as I was to see him dedicate the song to us though. Thank you Mark, seriously. That was really unexpected and truly special. I’m still looking for a video online of it, so if you were there and you happen to be reading this, can you please send it to AudioVeinNetwork@gmail.com ? I would REALLY appreciate that.
It took a long time to finally see this band live. It was totally worth the wait, and I can’t wait to see them again in a few months here in Vegas.
Don’t forget to play “Speed Home California” and “RPM” though 😉
Review and photos by Marcus Miller