Merced County Times Newspaper
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Smash Mouth to perform at Merced County Fair

Free concert with Fair admission on Thursday, June 8


If the transition to the 21st century had its own song, it might have a Smash Mouth melody. 

The pop-rock group is currently experiencing a resurgence, which they are fueling with their current tour. The tour features a stop in none other than Merced County, where Smash Mouth will be the feature performance at the Merced County Fair on Thursday night.

The band has remained active since the height of their fame in the late 90s and early 2000s, when they were best known for original songs including “Walking on the Sun” and “All Star,” as well as a series of covers including The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.” The millennial predisposition to nostalgia has kept Smash Mouth in the cultural conversation, in part due to the use of both “All Star” and “I’m a Believer” in the 2001 animated comedy “Shrek.”

The past two years have been a period of change for the group. Steve Harwell, the band’s original lead singer, stepped away to address his health in October of 2021. He was replaced by Zach Goode, an experienced performer who seeks to upgrade the concert experience for audiences.

“I’m in a hot tub in Redding, California!” were the first excited words out of Goode’s mouth during an interview with the Times. Despite the band moving rapidly from soundcheck to stage and city to city, he was able to take time during a brief moment of relaxation to discuss the band’s whirlwind of activity.

“Just this week alone, we had nine shows in 14 days. And mixed in there were 13 separate flights,” Goode said. “It’s been incredible.”

“I didn’t know what to expect when I joined, whether it’d be people waiting to hear one song, or people wanting nostalgia. It turns out there’s these longtime fans of this band,” said Goode of his experience since joining Smash Mouth, over a year and a half ago. 

While he had the performance chops for the role, there was still some nervousness before the transition.

“I’m replacing an iconic frontman,” said Goode. “I try to do justice to all the original songs, carry on the legacy, while still being myself at the same time.”

Since his first official performance with the band to a crowd of 50,000 people at a festival in Guadalajara, the band’s trajectory has steadily maintained upward.

“Ever since then, we’ve been off to the races,” he said. 

The band has been traveling around the country on the “Underground Sun” tour, named for an original song slated to be released this summer. The new release follows the release of another original song named “4th of July” last year, as well as an applauded cover of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Yet another original song, “Better Believer,” can be expected later in the year.
Their upcoming concert at the Merced County Fair will not be Goode’s first time performing in Merced. Local music fans might recognize him from his time frequenting the area in bands such as Ghoulspoon and Geezer.

“We’ve always had fun there, it’s a great place to play,” said Goode. 

He thinks audiences will enjoy the change he brings to a Smash Mouth show. “One thing that they’ll probably be surprised with is how high energy of a show it is. I’m the kind of front man that likes to really engage the crowd.”

No interview with a member of Smash Mouth would be complete without addressing the ogre in the room. Somewhat surprisingly, there’s no resentment detected.

“’Shrek’ is great. It’s a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.” laughed Goode. “It’s a big milestone in a lot of people’s lives.”

He added as a message to those planning to attend the show: “Yes, we will play ‘All Star.’ They don’t have to yell for it the whole show — it’s coming.”

Smash Mouth will be performing at the Outdoor Theater at the Merced County Fair on Thursday, June 8 at 8:30 p.m. The show is free with paid Fair admission.

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