SugarSmashGin: 4-Hour Trip to the 90s


The Big Dome became a portal back to the era of 90s alternative rock as three prominent bands of that time, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray and Gin Blossoms, came together for a one-night concert on the 21st of October. The show, which lasted for almost four hours, filled the Dome with that lingering nostalgia as the three bands played the songs that filled the airwaves and television screens from 15 to 20 years ago. (Just counting how many years it has been is enough to inspire that longing)

Color It Red was the opening act for the evening. The band, fronted by Cooky Chua, is considered a household name in OPM after gaining much recognition for their music during the 90s. They have also proven one of the most enduring local bands as they celebrate their 25th anniversary next year. Color It Red performed a powerful acoustic set of their songs including “Na Naman”. “I Need You Here” and the melancholic crowd mover “Paglisan”. They closed their set with a stirring rendition of the classic hit by Juan Dela Cruz, “Beep Beep”.


Smash Mouth started things with a bang. Steve Harwell, the band’s vocalist and front man, along with the band members, were blasting with energy as they performed their biggest hits such as “Everyday Superhero”, “The In Set”, “Can’t Get Enough of You, Baby”, “Come On, Come On”, “The Fonz” and “Always Gets Her Way”. Their set was characterized by long solo riffs and drum intermissions that highlighted the band’s characteristic energy. Unlike the other two bands on the lineup, it was Smash Mouth’s first visit in Manila and even then, they extended their thanks to the crowd. The band had the crowd on their feet when they performed “Walkin’ on the Sun”, “I’m A Believer”, “Let’s Rock” and “All Star” which are their most recognized hits here.


Sugar Ray proved to be the most entertaining act out of the bunch as the charming and smooth-talking frontman/vocalist Mark McGrath drove the crowd wild. With Rodney Sheppard on guitars, Justin Bivona on bass guitar, Jesse Bivona on drums, the band played their most popular hits that drew the crowd in without a doubt. The first song they played was “Summertime’s Coming” which was from their upcoming album. Before playing the next song, Mark recounted his recent guest appearance on ASAP XVIII the day before wherein a group of kids sang “Someday”. He said, “There is melody and passion and love of music here in the Philippines. Thank you for letting Sugar Ray be a small part of it.” Sugar Ray also performed “Answer the Phone”, “Under the Sun”, “Every Morning”, “Falls Apart”, “Speed Home California”, “Blister in the Sun”, “When It’s Over” and “Fly” which were all warmly received by the Filipino crowd.


Mark McGrath was obviously overflowing with gratitude throughout the evening. He proclaimed, “When you’re writing, you never know if you could ever connect with anybody. And to see these songs connect, go around the world and to be here in Manila, at the Araneta Coliseum , in front of you beautiful people. I don’t care if you get sick of me talking. You’re gonna hear the biggest thank you and blessing from me and I’m so humbled by you tonight!” He even joked, “if I cry, it’s your fault.” And at one point in their set, he almost did.


It was almost midnight when Gin Blossoms took the stage. They had just arrived in Manila that night after a thirty-hour flight from Dallas. The band started things off with “Don’t Change for Me” and “Lost Horizons”. Robin Wilson expressed his appreciation and happiness to return here after their full concert at the Big Dome in 2010. He also sympathized with those who were affected by the earthquake in Cebu and “As Long As It Matters”. He smiled afterwards and commented, “that song means a lot more to us here in the Philippines than back home.” Their setlist included a mixture of their greatest hits which included “Found Out About You”, “29”, “Until I Fall Away” and “Allison Road”. To officially close the evening up, the crowd sang along to three of Gin Blossoms’ trademark songs: “Til I Hear It From You”, “Hey Jealousy”, and “Follow You Down”.


Seeing the three bands in one night was a blast. It feels weird to say that it had almost been 20 years since this or that song came out because even now, their music still manage to tug at people’s heartstrings just as did before. That night, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray and Gin Blossoms did a great job in taking Manila back to the 90s, an era of uncompromising and unforgettable music.

Written by Sandra Mae Laureano
Photos by Glenn Michael Tan

* Special thanks to Random Minds Productions


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