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Published June 30 2013

Barenaked Ladies stays true to quirky sound

FARGO – For a band known for humorous wordplay and quirky lyrics, the Barenaked Ladies look particularly grim in the cover of their new album, “Grinning Streak.”

Have the Canadian pop-rockers, who come to Fargo on Wednesday for the “Last Summer on Earth” tour, lost their fun-loving touch?

Not at all, Tyler Stewart, the group’s drummer said last week from Boise, Idaho. They’ve just aged a bit.

“Every single album we put out, people say, ‘This is a more mature-sounding album for you guys,’ ” he says. “And I always say, ‘Of course. We’re older.’ You know, we’re not the guys in our 20s jumping around in shorts anymore.”

“Grinning Streak,” despite its cover, still incorporates the humorous elements of the band’s early years. The album also displays the group’s changing sound, Stewart says.

“We’ve evolved, but in a natural way,” he says.

The new album and the Last Summer on Earth tour mark the group’s 25th anniversary. Such a lengthy career isn’t lost on Stewart.

“Twenty-five years is a long time. Most bands don’t last five years,” he says. “So we’ve been through all kinds of ups and downs, all over place, members coming and going.”

Along those lines, fans at Fargo’s show may notice the absence of former lead singer Steven Page, who left the group in 2009 to pursue a solo career.

Despite that and other changes, Stewart says the band has still held on to the sound and characteristics that defined early hits like “Pinch Me” or “If I had $1,000,000,” even while they try new things.

“You recognize Barenaked Ladies in there, but we’re not afraid to push the boundaries in terms of production and style and things like that,” Stewart says. “I think the band just continues to grow.”

Still, the group accepts that even in 2013, their music and their sound will probably evoke a sense of ’90s nostalgia in listeners, Stewart says.

“I think people probably associate us with a certain time period, and that’s just fine, because if people are going to come for nostalgia, they’ll get a little bit of that,” Stewart says. “But also, they’ll get a chance to see that we’re better now.”

“There’s nostalgia mixed with progress, and that makes for a very satisfying kind of night,” he adds.

If you go

• What: “Barenaked Ladies and Guster: Last Summer on Earth” tour

• When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday; doors open at 5

• Where: Newman Outdoor Field, 1515 15th Ave. N., Fargo

• Info: General admission all-ages tickets are $35 in advance and $45 the day of the show; a friends and family four-pack is available for $99.99; free for children 10 and under. Tickets are available by calling (866) 300-8300. Each full-price ticket comes with a digital download of the new Barenaked Ladies album, “Grinning Streak.” Concert attendees are encouraged to bring lawn games and non-spiked lawn chairs.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535