Live: Smash Mouth in Indiana

Have you ever been to a concert where the ENTIRE audience sang every single word of a song? It’s a beautiful thing, and it happened last Friday when Smash Mouth performed their meme-inspiring, mega-hit, “All Star” at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater in Fishers. I wasn’t surprised when the fans responded wildly to Smash Mouth. I didn’t expect, however, the enthusiasm that the local opening band, Monofiction, generated. Fans grabbed spots at the barrier early and waved signs, cheering wildly at their appearance. The five-piece, Indianapolis-based band belted out fresh, original music that cleverly mixed rock and roll with pop punk and just a touch of Cali-surf. Their fresh sound and high energy level got the all-ages crowd into just the right frame of mind for a summertime party with Smash Mouth. After Monofiction left the stage, the beach balls appeared. The crowd at the barrier grew thick, chanting “Smash Mouth,” and “Shrek.” A horribly off-key rendition of “All Star” broke out, resulting in laughter, more frenetic beach-ball action, and more chanting. When Smash Mouth finally took the stage and launched into, “Can’t Get Enough of You,” the crowd cheered wildly.  Unfortunately, technical issues plagued the first few songs, but once those were resolved, the band really started to get into sync. It had been a hot minute since I’d last seen Smash Mouth in concert, and I figured they would be moving a little slower than they did back around the turn of the century. I was right, but they more than made up for their lack of physical activity by their sheer coolness and confidence. The vocals of founding member Steve Harwell were largely unaltered by time, and still had that distinctive timbre I remember so well.   There was a sense of restless anticipation among the fans throughout the first half of the set, until they heard the first couple bars of the 1995 hit, “Walking in the Sun.” Once the tension was broken, the real party began. Nearly everyone who had still been sitting got to their feet, and began dancing and singing along with everyone else. The band also seemed to engage even more with the crowd, feeding on the energy. They looked amused by the crowd surfers (yes, there were a couple of crowd surfers) and didn’t seem bothered by the beach balls that occasionally landed on stage. (It was better than being pelted by bread, I’m sure.) Smash Mouth, which consists of Harwell, along with drummer Jason Sutter, bassist Paul Delisle, guitarist Sean Hurwitz, and keyboardist Michael Klooster, played a mix of both well-known and lesser-known original and cover songs, all of which were upbeat and fun. They also played a great cover of Van Halen’s cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” When Smash Mouth finally started into “All Star,” the crowd erupted with cheers and singing. Thankfully, that sing-along was much better than the earlier a-capella version, providing an awesome ending to the set.  The band rewarded the crowd with an encore, which is a rarity these days. All in all, it was a fun, upbeat way to start summer in Indiana. -Laura Fox \"Click