Friday, August 17, 2007

Live Concert review: Fountains of Wayne at the Wonder Ballroom, Portland, Oregon, 8/16/07

What a weird show. I don't know what it was exactly, but that was the most well-played, yet boring concert I have ever seen. The band played great, were very tight - but with very little energy or excitement. I thought the lead guitarist might fall asleep during the set. I should have made a bet with MJT that he would never change his facial expression during the entire set, and I would have won. So, they were fine, but were really "safe". There was no "edge" there. Sure, it's FOW - you don't want them biting the head's off of bats or anything, but there should be a spark of some kind.

Partly, I think it's because of their music - which I like very much. The problem is, I think, that while their lyrics are clever and funny and unique - there is nothing there to really get passionate about. The songs are all very detatched and self-conscious. How can you really deliver an impassioned show when you're singing a song about a salesman or laser shows or Stacy's mom. Maybe Springsteen could do it (now that I would like to hear - the Boss singing Stacey's Mom), but I doubt it. Artists tend to really get into their material if it means something to them personally, but these guys just like to write well-crafted and funny pop songs.

But, I'm not sure it was just the band. I think the crowd had something to do with it. It was being promoted by KINK FM, the home of boring and tasteful Adult Alternative. You know, Norah Jones, Sarah McLaughlin, John Mayer, James Blunt. Not the worst music in the world, but boring as fuck when you hear more than 2 in a row.

I'm kinda glad to get a way from the usual Portland hipster fuckfest that I see at every show, but if the alternative is aging frat boys in their golf shirts and a large contingent of children then count me out. The audience was well-behaved and mellow and really added absolutely no energy to the show. It's a 2-way street, you know. The band and audience need to feed off each other's energy, but last night they seemed to be feeding off each other's niceness. I guess I have always thought of FOW as being kinda cool and hip, but last night made me think that they're more of a non-threatening family band, like Hootie and the Blowfish or something. Sorry, guys, that was a low blow, but I felt like I was at a theme park or something. And for God's sake, tell your guitar player to lighten up. Or maybe he hates playing for kids, too. Anyway, here's their debut single - still a great song...

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