By Sean O'Neal January 17, 2013
As science has yet to find a way to transform embarrassing mix CDs into buoyant watercraft capable of supporting omelet bars, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath has been forced to take it upon himself to launch The Mark McGrath And Friends Cruise , a Joseph Conrad-esque voyage into the bowling shirt-clad heart of darkness that is mid-’90s nostalgia. Answering the question “What if ironic jukebox selections were a boat?” over the course of four October days, the voyage finds McGrath heading a line-up that includes Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Spin Doctors, Marcy Playground, Cracker, The Verve Pipe, Vertical Horizon, and the lead singers of Collective Soul and Live, all being gathered together with their most ardent fans to be sent out to sea.
According to the press release, the ship is expected to return.
In addition to denying ’90s alt-rock radio the dignity of a Viking funeral, other activities are planned—activities that include, but are not limited to, listening to these bands perform their biggest hits and then another 44 minutes slowly ticking by, plus encounters that only being trapped adrift on a vessel captained by the imagination of Mark McGrath can provide. Describing the entire experience as “utopian,” McGrath promises the sort of intimate fan interaction with these bands that the inherent elevation of celebrity and state fair stages would otherwise make difficult, describing his own floating idyll thusly: “You might find yourself having breakfast next to Steve from Smash Mouth or the Spin Doctors.”
You might be having what you believe to be a normal breakfast, then realize that next to you is the guy from Smash Mouth and/or the Spin Doctors. You might find yourself contemplating your own distant youth and wasted potential while watching the guy from Smash Mouth eat a crepe. You might try to remember a time when eating breakfast next to the Spin Doctors would have been something to be excited about. You might ask the Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron, “Excuse me, but ” and then, before he can answer, you might scream, “4:30!” as you watch a pained smile flicker across his face, signaling ingrained irritation yet a begrudging gratefulness that at least someone remembers.
You might do this every morning. You might do this while listening to “ ,” every morning, as inescapable as the ocean that surrounds you on every side. You might.
You might beat Mark McGrath at Rock ‘N’ Roll Jeopardy .
What else can you expect for your $649-per-person admission fee, which does not include beverages or silence? According to the official FAQ :
1. Live music every night featuring a great lineup!
2. A nightly show in the Dynasty Lounge Theater.(One show per person - Early or Late)
3. Performances around the ship.
4. Q and A sessions.
5. Opportunities to get up close and personal with musical guests.
6. Surprise jam sessions
7. And other surprises
Indeed, live music, shows, performances, surprise jam sessions—these are all very different activities deserving of their own enumerated list, each taking place at all hours everywhere. And, other surprises of that nature, such as McGrath’s purely hypothetical, ultimate fantasy of you discovering McGrath sitting poolside with Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms, “taking requests and singing music.” There will also be “karaoke nights where you can sing live to one of our bands or sing karaoke with us to a machine,” thus experiencing intimately what it’s like to be a band doomed to perform its same hits on command, with soullessly mechanical repetition.
On the S.S. Mark McGrath And Friends, you'll be reassured that here we’re all in the same boat—borne aloft on cyclical, unpredictable waves that can lift you to great heights, then inevitably send you crashing, yawing downward. You’ll be propelled by the listless winds of nostalgia and inertia filling your sails. You’ll be surrounded by music that can never stop playing, from bands that, metaphorically speaking, can never make port, condemned to just keep going forever as punishment for some long-ago crime.
The Mark McGrath And Friends Cruise is, no lie, presented by Flying Dutchmen Travel . Many tickets are available.
Onion AV Club