One of the first cassettes I ever remember playing on a loop was the landmark debut album New Miserable Experience from Gin Blossoms.
I was almost four years old when that album came out. I was very much into music and when my grandma would take my brothers and I shopping at Walgreens or the mall, she would buy both of them full cassettes and I would get cassette singles. But I had my own little boombox with a microphone and that Gin Blossoms tape got a TON of play from me.
Twenty-six years later, the band was at the famed Troubadour for an intimate sold-out gig. This was one of the few shows I’ve attended this year where I got to feel like the youngest person in the room.
I saw at least three dudes in Tommy Bahama shirts. And though the crowd’s fashion choices may have been outdated, Gin Blossoms proved those songs they wrote almost three decades ago are quite timeless.
They played five songs from this year’s Mixed Reality, their sixth studio album. Though the songs didn’t quite capture the crowd’s attention the way their biggest hits did, they were well received and also well in the wheelhouse of what you’d like if you dug those ’90s bangers. My favorite of the new singles is “Angels Fly”. In fact, lead singer Robin Wilson’s vocals sounded even better live on the song than on the record.
A couple songs in came the first New Miserable Experience cut, “Allison Road”. The crowd lost its mind and cell phones went flying into the air.
“I wrote this next song when I was sad but when it sold four million records, the sadness went away,” Wilson said before launching into the ballad “Until I Fall Away”. I looked to my right and saw a woman tearfully singing along to the tune. These songs still hold a power over people.
One of my favorite Gin Blossoms songs that wasn’t a huge single “As Long As It Matters” came midway through the set — one of the better written songs following the departure and death of their original guitarist Doug Hopkins.
Wilson did a great job of hyping the crowd up and pretty much every song had a searing Jesse Valenzuela guitar solo. Wilson climbed things, threw a tambourine to a member of the crowd, and generally showcased frontman charisma that helps explain why 25 years later they can still sell out shows.
The band saved their greatest hits for last. The song “Found Out About You” was always one of my favorites — the opening guitar riff with its chime-y sound before Wilson’s mournful vocals wash over them always give me goosebumps. This was one of the best singalongs of the night, then came “Til I Hear It From You” from the Empire Records soundtrack.
“Hey Jealousy” is another all-time classic song that had the crowd singing every word alongside Wilson. This band always had a penchant for writing amazing hooks, and “Hey Jealousy” has one of the best hooks of the ’90s.
An encore featured covers of “Wild Horses” from the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty’s “Anything That’s Rock N Roll”, sandwiching one of their second-album hits “Follow You Down”. The show wrapped around 10:30 PM, allowing the crowd to get home to pay their babysitters after reliving some of the glory of their youth. I enjoyed being along for the ride.