Alternative rock band Marcy Playground was at the forefront.
The New York-based band, whose chart topping single “Sex and Candy” was the anthem of an angst-driven generation, has arguably seen its share of ups and downs since the initial waves of alternative rock, but hasn’t been dampened either with the onset of boy bands, diva singers and Kanye West.
And for Friday night at the Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Sparks, Marcy Playground will show what exactly is going on around the playground, with old hits and new ones from their upcoming album, after an almost five year break.
“The time was right,” lead singer and guitarist John Wozniak told the Sparks Tribune about the band’s absence between its 2004 record and now. “We felt like we just wanted to do it. We played a show in New York about a year ago and that show was so much fun. We thought we really had to do something here.”
Flash back to the year 1997 and Wozniak, or “Woz,” alongside members bassist Dylan Keefe and drummer Dan Rieser began gravitating toward a certain kind of sound, eventually releasing their first, self-titled album, “Marcy Playground.”
Named after Woz’s formative childhood location—the Marcy Open grade school in Minneapolis — their first album reflected a cleaner rock sound with provocative lyrics and childhood imagery, infused with traces of folk and psychedelia.
From this album, of course, came “Sex and Candy,” which spent 15 weeks at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, landing the trio smack dab in the middle of constant radio play, MTV buzz and movie soundtrack deals. Other notable hits from this album include “Saint Joe on the School Bus” and “Sherry Fraser,” all of which helped the compilation eventually go platinum.
For Woz, it was a long time coming, having been fascinated with rock and roll greats like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix when he was younger.
“I think as a kid, I thought music was magic,” Woz said. “It was a big magic show and I didn’t know how to do it. I loved it.”
As with any rock and roller, it wasn’t long before Woz learned how to do it, and he has been developing as the main songwriter for Marcy Playground since its inception.
“I have to feel it,” Woz said, explaining his songwriting process. “You get three minutes to tell a story, basically. You do the best you can to make it happen. I play with words, that’s what I do.”
Later albums like “Shapeshifter” (1999) helped cement Marcy Playground with hits like “It’s Saturday,” which hit No. 23 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock charts, but ultimately the later work didn’t experience the same kind of success as “Marcy.”
In 2004, “MP3” was released with singles like “Deadly Handsome Man” and “Punk Rock Superstar,” which both met some radio play before the band, which hadn’t officially toured since 2001, took their untimely break.
“I guess the process of growing and developing is natural,” Woz said, as the band will be releasing its third album, “Leaving Wonderland … in a Fit of Rage,” on July 7. “We love what we do and we have a wonderful fan base. I think it (Marcy Playground’s sound) hasn’t changed that much but it’s so hard to say. Every record sounds different.”
As for what’s in store this Friday, fans can expect a little bit of everything. The group will be mixing Marcy Playground’s different sounds with a new drummer, longtime friend Shlomi Lavie.
“It’s going to be a good show,” Woz said. “We’ll be playing a mix of all the albums. And I’m just really excited to be back doing this. I love to get on the stage and play with my band. When you’re doing it with an audience, it’s just awesome to get that kind of feedback and support.”
The show is for those 21 and over and begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, which includes a free beer and can be purchased at Cantina Los Tres Hombres.