Friday, August 24, 2007

Table 19, Your Pizza's Ready

Oh man, Ozzie and I had a funny experience the other night.

We went to see the Fountains of Wayne and Crowded House show in Denver, which, for all intents and purposes, was a Crowded House show. I think there were about 5 of us there to see FOW.

Now, I am a big Crowded House fan. If it wasn't a school night, I would have loved to stay. But Ozzie and I decided early on we were just going to have to pretend it was FOW only and leave right after that, which we did. It's just the way life is right now. Also, Tim Finn wasn't going to be there. Almost nothing is worth kids not getting enough sleep because we get home late, and then having to get them up in the morning. To me, anyway.

It was reminiscent of the time we went to see Wilco and REM. The REM guys around me could NOT BELIEVE I was going to leave mid-way through REM. But the babysitter had to get home, dude.

So, Ozzie gets a spot not quite on the rail right after doors. A bit
of a power struggle with the hard-core CH fans in the front - they
were saving spaces for people on the rail. Ok, whatever. We were
right up there. We eventually got into a conversation with some of
the the CH hard-cores and spilled the truth that we were there for
FOW. A number of them were kiwis and really are rabid fans.

If you don't know, Ozzie and I are hard-core Who fans and have gone to countless Who shows. We have traveled all around the US, Canada and the UK for the Who. I run an internet fan group, and we are generally in the first 5 or 10 rows at a Who show.

It was just hilarious for us to be in the middle of the Crowded House hard cores - you can imagine if we were at a Who show and the people next to us in the front row told you they had only come to see Rose Hill Drive, and that they were planning on LEAVING before The Who came out. Idiots, we'd think. (Nothing against Rose Hill Drive. Ozzie loves them.) At one point, I reminded Ozzie that 'remember, these people are us at a Who show." They are not giving up the power spot in the front to a couple of FOW losers. They had driven from New Mexico and other states to come to the show. Even I thought we were idiots for leaving.

During the FOW set, for the first 5 songs, it was me, Oz, two guys down the rail and one other guy bouncing around and dancing. Eventually, about the first 4 rows of people got into it. Which was gratifying. It's hard to see a band that you really like performing before an ambivalent crowd.

Fountains of Wayne is a quirky little band, though. Chris Collingwood, the lead singer and co-songwriter, seems to be kinda depressed. For good reasons, I am sure. He's talked about it a bit in interviews. (It takes one to know one.) Adam Schlesinger, the other incredibly prolific songwriter, bass player and back up vocalist, is actually pretty effusive. Their lead guitarist, Jody Porter, is Keith Richards reincarnated, although I realize that Keith is not technically dead. At first I thought maybe he was jokingly mimicing a wasted lead guitarist, but then I realized he is a wasted lead guitarist. A good one, though. I was worried he was going to just drop dead.

I was being rather codependent in that I really wanted the Crowded House fans to "get" FOW. But I think Chris has a hard time being the traditional front man; getting people engaged is not a priority for him. 'He's no Roger Daltrey.' However, I love his voice to death and will support his right to be diffident forever. He's got a style when live that I think people need to warm up to, and if you don't know the studio material, it might not happen.

In the end, I think about 15 CH fans might have had their interest piqued by FOW. I was looking at Adam at one point and just thought "these people have no idea who you are or how talented you are". He wrote the song "That Thing You Do!", for god's sake. He is a power pop writing machine. I know that's not everyone's cuppa, but you'd think it would be close to the Crowded House fans liking. I certainly can't and don't blame the CH'ers for not caring. I get where their heads were. My mental note is, next time, try to go to a show where Fountains of Wayne are doing their own show for their own fans.

It was just funny to be in 'someone else's' world, where the Who rules don't apply (Ozzie says : "you don't get to save spots on the rail at a GA show!") , and not only that, you are there to see the 'lesser' band.

If you love New Jersey and other east coast references, harmonies from
the 60's and 70's, guitar solos from the 70's and 80's, smart & funny lyrics, freakin' infectious melodies, everyday characters or have driven by the "actual store" in Wayne, NJ for nearly 20 years of your life (all of these apply to me), and you don't mind seemingly indifferent lead singers, check out Fountains of Wayne. Yes, Chris thinks Pete Townshend is, what was it, pretentious? (I still can't decide if that interview is real or tongue in cheek.) But I think they are mostly worth forgiving for that. And that is something, coming from me. If I met Chris, I would tell him to get a light box and dude, you are so wrong about Pete Townshend.

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