Last night’s showing from Gin Blossoms inside The Bear’s Den at Seneca Niagara Casino put to rest any prevailing chatter that they’re just another ‘90s band.
Vocalist Robin Wilson led the troops into battle with all the energy and hubris you’d want in a frontman, and, in turn, the guys responded with one of the most kinetic performances the room has hosted all year long.
They were fierce, focused, and feeding off the crowd’s approbation, which continued to seethe right up until the final chord of set closer “Follow You Down.” Wilson immediately broke down the fourth wall by carousing through the crowd and mingling with female fans, an opportunity I wish I other performers who take that stage would capitalize on.
Playing a room that homely should be a cakewalk for artists, because they’re able to make the entire evening feel more like a social gathering than a business-as-usual endeavor. They can tell jokes, dialogue with the audience, and, most importantly, assure the fans that they’re experiencing something that everyone who stayed home is missing out on.
Clearly, Gin Blossoms were acutely aware of the possibilities.
On the musical side, both Wilson’s voice and the songs he sings have aged as gracefully as anything else from that period.
“Don’t Change for Me,” “Lost Horizons,” and “Found Out About You” are masterful pop-rock creations that possess a much deeper lyrical sensibility than their contemporaries, due in no small part to the contributions of late guitarist Doug Hopkins, who committed suicide shortly after the release of 1992’s “New Miserable Experience.”
Hopkins had an honest, if somewhat desolate, approach to songwriting that was beyond the pedestrian stuff the genre is known for, so his loss was a mighty one, to say the least.
The band soldiered on in his wake with excellent tracks such as “’Til I Hear it From You” and “Dead or Alive on the 405,” but the material from their debut possesses a stinging beauty that can’t be overstated.
“Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” and “Until I Fall Away” were all devoured by the crowd throughout the set, and the band was more than happy to pose for photos along the way.
Guitarists Jesse Valenzuela and Scott Johnson balance the brooding with the jangly in effortless fashion, while the rhythm section of Scott Hessel and Chris Serafini is clearly having a ball holding everything together.
The only negative to emerge from last night was a rare technical snafu involving the lights going off at random moments, but the band wasn’t fazed one bit. They just kept on rolling along like the well-oiled mechanism they are at this point in their career.
With legendary Kinks guitarist Dave Davies set to tear up that same stage tonight, let’s hope the staff has everything under control.