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Eve 6: Swallowing Their Pride for Pop Gems

On December 4th, 2008, the Penn State community had a chance to view a piece of music history. No, the Grateful Dead played here this past fall. This time machine plugged listeners into 2001 – a year that marked the promise of high school and teenage dreams for most in attendance. Eve 6, a 1995 SoCal creation, performed an hour long set at the HUB last night.

A brief recap: the band released three studio albums and one EP during their first stand of 1995-2004. The trio has been on hiatus since the second Bush term began and only regrouped in October of 2007 with a new guitarist and millennium-approved sound. “We write new songs now”, said Max Collins, the group’s front man during a song break. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to differentiate between these tunes and the B-Sides of their magnum opus – 2000’s Horrorscope.

If your ideal playlist is dominated by Fueled By Ramen artists, this would be the show for you. They may be a bit older, but Eve 6 fits right in line with today’s pop-punk stereotypes: technically quite modest instrumentation, catchy pop hooks, and synthesizers to decorate guitarist Matt Blair’s overly-simplistic guitar playing. While the band has been in existence for thirteen years, it is very apparent that their palettes have not expanded from their juvenile and formulaic approach. Fair enough though – we can’t all worship Wayne Coyne for giving us Zaireeka.

As far as an overall evaluation, it was just the kind of band to host at the HUB. There were a few sing-along anthems, songs about “high school”, “the collective her”, and “that guy”, and a mosh pit that was Abercrombie & Fitch approved. No one’s polos were ruined in the process. It was free, too. There was nothing to lose by going. This was a concert you could write to the folks at home about.

Opening act, Matt Lowell, was entertaining, too. He put on a nice acoustic show, warming the crowd up before the pop-punk onslaught that was about to follow. A self-pronounced Eve 6 junkie (he talked about his early obsession with “Inside Out”, the band’s hit single and closing number), he was the perfect hype-man: not going to upstage the headliner but be a nice supplement. Apparently though, this wasn’t good enough for Eve 6, who told the audience to show some love for “Nick Lowell”, their opening act before their final song. Way to stay classy, boys.

But this may be a bit too critical. Eve 6 is very well polished rock act – they dress well, too. The band has been performing since 1995 and it shows. They were able to do what many pop-rock bands fail at – recreating their studio recordings live. In an age where Pro Tools has allowed bands to hide behind studio correction software (case in point), it’s refreshing to see this trio translate well.

Their stage show was, while cliché loaded, entertaining. From bassist/lead vocalist Max Collins’ Michael Stipe-esque singing (minus the eccentricities, naturally) to replacement guitarist Matt Bair’s “Matthew Bellamy with one-too-many-Red Bulls” shtick, there was a visually pleasing show to see. Eve 6 is a well-oiled machine.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad show. For a few minutes I even found myself reminiscing about the summer of ’99 – Y2K bug not included. Reviews seemed to be highly positive from everyone who attended, be they die-hard or substance-influenced fanatics. I mean, it had everything a good rock concert should have: flashy lights, loud music, crowd surfing, hell – they even got the crowd to sway their lighters and “cellular telephones”, per Collins’ request, during their 2001 single “Here’s to the Night”. For all those who wanted to relive a few moments that were “really 90’s”, as Collins put it, this was the show to attend.

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