The bands offered a packaged tour tailor-made for young, boomer-bred audiences to drink overpriced beer on the lawn and warmly recall the radio fodder of the past decade.
The fair-weather lawn jockeys turned out for the adult alternative staples "Mr. Jones" and "Lightning Crashes" and went home satisfied to hear them both.
Ignorance may be bliss, but the hit-mongers still missed two bands newly settled into the role of career artists, but still capable of pure rock magic.
"It's great just to be here and know we did it," Counting Crows bassist Matt Malley said. "But we still aspire to be as big as we can get."
Live answered the call with a faithful hit parade from the 1994 gazillion-seller Throwing Copper. More admirably, the band pretended that everyone in the crowd knew that the 1999 commercial-flop The Distance to Here also contained an abundance of rich melodies, and an even more mature sense of cohesion.
The wannabe anthems "The Distance" and "Dance With You" more than held their own alongside commercial heavyweights "All Over You" and "I Alone," simply because the entire body of Live's music consists of variations on the Holy Trinity of "faith and sex and God" (as helpfully enumerated in the Counting Crows' hit "Rain King").
Anxious to preserve some rock 'n' roll sleaze amid his strange brew of Eastern mysticism and Christian rock overtones (imagine if MCA fronted DC Talk), frontman Ed Kowalcyzk attempted to move the crowd with his pelvis more than with his soul.
But rather than emphasize the spirituality of sex, Kowalcyzk missed the incongruence between his strident God songs and his "Ladies' Man"-worthy between-song patter.
However, when Kowalcyzk ditched his game, Live emerged as the perfect large-venue band, U2 to a generation too media-savvy for unhip sincerity.