Los Angeles’ Lifehouse rocks the Rose Garden

Wednesday night, the Rose Garden rocked with the sounds of three powerhouse bands. Sentimental rockers Matchbox 20 brought Portland natives Everclear and the new rock sensation, Lifehouse, along for the ride.

Lifehouse was nice enough to give the students of Portland State a look into what the rising band is made of.

Known today for the chart-climbing “Hanging by a Moment,” Lifehouse is making a name for themselves. In addition to their debut album No Name Face earning platinum status, the band is sharing music inperson all across the country. Recent events have included performing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” tours with Pearl Jam and Fuel, and spots on MTV’s “Total Request Live.” Lifehouse’s music has also been featured on the hit WB show “Roswell.”

The band’s success seems to have appeared overnight, though the band has been together for five years. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Jason Wade founded the earliest form of Lifehouse in 1996 with his good friend and neighbor Sergio Andrade. Most of Lifehouse’s early career featured the band playing for some 450 people a week in a local high school’s auditorium.

Lifehouse was originally called Blyss. Wade heads up the band, creating emotionally-driven modern rock ballads with Andrade.

Twenty year-old Jason Wade heads up Lifehouse with his deeply emotional lyrics, resonating vocals and powerful guitar. Since his parents’ divorce at age 12, Wade was opened up to a world of poetry, and eventually music. Though he was never a musical kid, he found himself coming up with melodies and lyrics.

While Wade’s parents were together, they were missionaries. They took him all over the Far East, including Japan and Hong Kong. After years of missionary life, the family moved back to the States, where they lived in, you guessed it, Portland. One of the Wade’s fondest memories of Portland is that it is where he began taking martial arts. In the CD booklet in No Name Face, you’ll find a reference to “P.O.” in his acknowledgements.

At age 15, Wade’s mother moved the family to Los Angeles. Not knowing anyone, Wade befriended Sergio Andrade, the kid next door. The found that they liked a lot of the same things, and so they hung out a lot. Andrade was just learning to play bass, and so the two would spend many hours together jamming in the garage, writing songs and improving their music.

Things started happening for the band after word-of-mouth reached a producer. Lifehouse recorded a demo tape at his home studio, and was eventually introduced to a manager, and then a record executive.

Since then, the band has gained massive attention for their emotion-provoking song “Hanging by a Moment.” This has led to tours, appearances on television and a platinum status for their premier album.

“Hanging by a Moment” came to Wade while he was doing a vocal track in a studio. “The melody was just stuck in my head. My opinion is some songs write themselves, when you’re not looking for them. This was one of those songs that just happened.”

The song is spiritual in nature to Wade, but is aware that it can also be taken as a love song.

“A lot of people take a lyric a lot of different ways. I don’t like putting the whole picture in a song.” Wade also believes that people change, so lyrics can have different meanings for people over time.

With influences ranging from Nirvana to Delirious to Simon & Garfunkel, the sound of No Name Face reflects super rock power with genuinely gripping emotion. As the band gets more popular among the people of America, Lifehouse hopes to be a positive influence, with a message of love and hope.

There’s more to come from Lifehouse. Their second single, “Sick Cycle Carousel” will be released to the airwaves sometime next month. “Sick Cycle Carousel” sometimes sounds like a song by the likes of Live and Pearl Jam, but has an eerie emotional factor to it that can’t be described. This song will have just as much, if not more, power with the public as “Hanging by a Moment” did.

In the more distant future, the boys will go overseas after the Matchbox 20 tour to promote themselves internationally. When that’s all over, Lifehouse will come into their own heading up a tour of their own in local clubs. Expect to see Lifehouse hit the Pine Street Theater or the Roseland.

Wednesday night, the band opened the Matchbox 20 concert with composure and poise. Though every song was rocking, loud and full of power, there were no mosh pits, or screaming girls, or jumping fans. The audience seemed to be in a total trance.

After that, Lifehouse played what Wade considers to be his first and favorite song, “Trying.” He wrote the song when he was 15, and performed with as much intensity as if he wrote it that afternoon.

Later on, the song “Everything” was played. This song came from one of the “jam sessions” that the band played back in the Los Angeles high school auditorium. This song sounded a lot like a song by modern-rock contemporary Christian band Delirious, whom Wade said was a big musical influence.

Hearing this band live, it seems that the audience received their songs as a sort of “soundtrack to life.” With dramatic moments in every song, it was inspiring and electrifying to see a foursome of newcomers perform like legends.

The final song was “Hanging by a Moment.” They led into it with eerie keyboard sounds, so they didn’t give away the surprise. The crowd exploded into cheers when Lifehouse’s champion song began. Everyone began to sing along, or at least mouth the words.

It was great to see a band perform without the mentality of “I’m famous, you paid to see me, so I guess I’m going to sing these same old songs.” Lifehouse has a connection with their songs that is hard to find performance after performance. Even “Hanging by a Moment” seemed new as Wade and Co. blasted the soul-grabbing lyrics.

As the oversized CD cover of Lifehouse was dragged from view, a banner with Everclear’s sad-faced yellow smiley guy appeared.

After an excruciating 20-minute wait between sets, Everclear took to the stage. The Rose Garden leapt to their feet and roared to welcome the band. Portland definitely loves their band.

Everclear opened immediately with a bluegrass-style song that said something about an “American Movie.” It obviously must go with their Songs from an American Movie albums.

“Portland, it’s good to be home!” shouted Alexakis after the first mini-song. The band was heartily welcomed by Portland, and cheered massively for songs such as “Santa Monica,” “Heroin Girl,” and “AM Radio.”

When I hear Everclear’s new stuff on the radio, I usually change the channel, because I think they’ve gone more towards a pop sound. Live music changes everything, because even “AM Radio” sounded like a sweet alternative song in the Rose Garden Wednesday night. Live beats radio any day.

All the songs were pretty good, except for “Rock Star,” where Alexakis wasted entirely too much time trying to figure out who to bring up on stage with him. After selecting about 20 people, they finally began the song. The audience just watched the people on stage half-jealous, half-bored. The “Everclear Dancers” as Alexakis called them seemed to be having way more fun on that song than we were.

During “Heroin Girl,” Everclear did something that I’ve never seen a band do in a large arena. They jumped off the stage and ran through the aisles! They ran all the way to the back of the floor section, chased by security guards. After spending around two minutes among their fans, Everclear jumped back on stage to finish the popular tune.

Before their last song, “Santa Monica,” Art fired up the Portland crowd once again.

“The girls and the people in Portland rule the planet … so tell anyone who doesn’t know that we’re from f***ing Portland!” The audience went wild as Everclear played the song that made them big, and that ended the Everclear segment of the concert.

During this last 20-minute scene change, some unlikely entertainment sprung up. The speakers were blaring transition music, and one of the songs played was Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” As soon as the Michael Jackson song ended, the long-awaited group Matchbox 20 appeared. The concert started as soon as a huge white sheet dropped, revealing the band.

I’ve never been a big Matchbox 20 fan, but once again, live music makes all the difference. Their sounds are soothing, but rocking at the same time. I knew about half the songs they played, and when I heard a familiar song, it was performed quite different from what Z100 plays.

One of the coolest aspects of the Matchbox 20 concert was the lighting. The lights would drop from the ceiling to create different lighting formations. After each song, the lights would spin or elevate or drop to create some new kind of effect. It somehow made me think “what if evil robots took over these lights?” The automation of the lighting was eerie like that, but effective.

Singer/songwriter Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 urged the crowd to “draw an imaginary line” around the arena and leave all the worries about politics, jobs and school outside, and to just enjoy the music.

Songs such as “3 a.m.,” “Real World” and “If You’re Gone” kept the audience at its feet for most of the concert. The band surprised a lot of people with their performance of the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit “Sweet Home Alabama.” They played it while Thomas was having technical problems.

“There’s never a technical problem that a little southern rock can’t fix,” Thomas said.

Of course, there was an encore. Matchbox 20 wasn’t getting out of the Rose Garden without playing their premier hit, “Push,” which they played at the very end. Before leaving, the band encouraged Portlanders to support local music by seeing a band you’ve never seen before.

After the final song, the lights shut off, and the band disappeared. A generally happy group of thousands vacated the stadium, to turn on their CD players.