Gin Blossoms to play Wichita Feb. 27

Gin Blossoms to play Wichita Feb. 27

Courtesy photo.

>HEAR IT

Who: Gin Blossoms with the Vehicles
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1217 E. Douglas
When: Friday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m.
How much: $35 and up

First off, I'm 37 and was in high school when the Gin Blossoms hit their peak with the insanely good New Miserable Experience, a 45 minute jangle pop juggernaut whose multiplatinum status led to such absolutely unavoidable hits as "Hey Jealousy," "Allison Road," "Until I Fall Away" and "Found Out About You" was released.

The album was so unrelenting in its commercial success and critical accolades that literally everyone I knew liked this band in 1993 and '94. If you're not old enough to remember the '90s, understand that people mostly either liked country, or goth, or metal, or rap, or whatever, and there was often an intense connection between identification with a musical genre and a person's friends, values and clothing style largely dictated by musical preference. Crossover was rare in 1993, except for a few universals: "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks (this is probably the best song ever written); Dr. Dre's The Chronic, and the Gin Blossoms. I swear to god, that Dre album and New Miserable Experience very well may have been issued to all students in suburban Dallas at freshman orientation for all I know.

Putting the band into some sort of historical context would be akin to being 16 in 1979 and hearing Cheap Trick's Dream Police for the first time — exciting, catchy as hell and both complex and somehow simple enough for everyone to know every word by the second or third listen. And, besting its contemporaries by mashing equal parts Byrds' jangle and the Replacements' dynamics to best a crowded-but-stellar class of '93, with bands like the Cranberries, Lenny Kravitz, Urge Overkill, Collective Soul and the Kinks (whose record, Phobia, was a disappointing career nadir) all competing for radio airtime and CD sales.

The band released the platinum-selling Congratulations… I'm Sorry in 1996, whose title was a bittersweet farewell to ousted founder Doug Hopkins, who committed suicide while struggling with alcoholism and the unavoidability of hearing songs he'd written but would never again perform everywhere he turned.

That album included the hits "Follow You Down" (which was also on the Empire Records sampler) and "Til I Hear it From You."

And then, after selling some 5 million (!) records, the band took a break. For a decade.

While the Gin Blossoms reunited for a 2001 New Years Eve show in Tempe, their hometown, they wouldn't actually release anything until 2006's Major Lodge Victory, followed by a stopgap live record in 2009.

The band then released the band's return to form LP, No Chocolate Cake, in 2010, which includes some of the best pop songs written in the last 10 years (check out "Wave Bye Bye" to get a taste of just how much the band has matured over the past 20 years and thank me later). Since then, the band has been on the road and working on new material.

Guitarist Jesse Venezuela at one point was writing a song a day, so be surprised if the band aren't gearing up to release another record of ultra-catchy pop songs that will turn you back into an angsty 16 year-old doofus who dresses like shit and doesn't know how to kiss. I hope they play "Hey Jealousy".

There is no way you 1) Haven't heard the Gin Blossoms; 2) Don't like at least a couple songs by them; and 3) Will go to this show and not get laid (probably not actually at the show, but stranger things have happened). Expect the band to play the hits, along with maybe some deep cuts (the band has been known to cover "Rocket Man" and "Folsom Prison Blues" at different points in their career, and recent setlists show the band as having worked a few Plimsouls covers into this tour).

This show will benefit the Dragon Master Foundation, who aims to develop and implement tools and technology to empower brain cancer researchers to collaborate more effectively and encourage that collaboration to find a path to cure cancer. Learn more about them at www.dragonmasterfoundation.org