In 1997 a bunch of us went out ot he Y-100 FEZtival, the yearly summer modern rock mega-concert.

The concert was held at the E-Center, The Sony/Blockbuster Entertainment Center, which has since become the Tweeter Center. The E-Center is one of the worst large entertainment venues in Philly (technically in Camden, NJ), especially if you’ve paid a premium price to sit inside the echo chamber attached to the stage.

The stage itself and the seats directly in front are covered, and the entire building is shaped like a bullhorn with its wide mouth pointing out toward an expanse of grass — the lawn. We knew better to sit near the stage, and so we have all bought the cheaper lawn tickets and were seated outside.

We had hoped for a sunny day to see the concert, and we got one. It was gorgeous. We arrived early enough to each get a gimmick red felt fez with a gold tassle. Yes, they were preventing people from bringing blankets into the venue even back then.

The band lineup was excellent, perhaps only second to Lollapalooza of ‘92. With two stages, we didn’t get to see every band we wanted. Most of the up-and-coming bands played the secondary stage, and we missed them. For example, Matchbox 20 did not play on the main stage.

Still, the main stage had some great acts. We saw:

One act that I was particularly looking forward to, though, was Matthew Sweet. Matthew Sweet had always struck me as the perennial rocker. Not in the KISS sense, but in a wholesome rock sense. I had always considered that if I was going to go on tour as a rock musician, I would be like Matthew Sweet. My music would sound like his, and I’d be kind of laid back like I imagined him to be, and I’d just be a new 90’s version of cool rock. On stage I would exude cool, and when my fingers touched the guitar, girls would throw their underwear on stage.

Well, Matthew Sweet sucked live. After hyping him up to all of my friends, I think he blew it for me. He was out of tune, out of beat, not loud enough, and generally shoddy all around. It’s a shame because my image of him (and my wannabe rock star image) was completely blown to hell.

The rest of the concert was pretty good. Pretty much everyone bugged out before Beck came on stage because they were tired of sitting in the blazing sun. Nobody had thought to bring sunscreen, and so we were all deep, deep red the next day. I could barely bend my legs because of the pain of the sunburn. Over the following weeks I peeled three times.

I don’t blame it all on Matthew Sweet. Everyone else was good.