Wrap up reviews Pt. 1 – Fountains of Wayne – Coach House – October 14, 2011

Tomorrow night will be my last show of 2011 and I realize that there were three shows I didn’t review as promised.

It’s a funny, I started each one of these and for various reasons I never actually got back to deal with them.  Most of those reasons of course were work (and work travel) related.  I logged a decent amount of road miles this year, and next year is looking just as strong or stronger.  It’s good and bad I suppose, but I like to travel and I like my job, so it’s not really something to complain about much.  I also have been spending a lot of time on a second company we are starting up (www.avforplanners.com) and even working on our podcast (www.meetingspodcast.com).  So, plenty of reaasons not to write reviews.

But, the biggest were that each of the three un-reviewed shows had some missing element that I wasn’t able to write around or even really know what it was.  So, I suppose you could say that two of these are my biggest disappointments of 2011, the third…well, you’ll just have to keep reading, won’t you?

The October Fountains of Wayne night started badly…

The first band was called Trevi…they were bad, epically bad.

My notes about Trevi include the comments…“They are to music what exxon is to environmental protections…” and “Now they are doing a rock song which sounds like Judas Priest would sound if you removed all traces of talent from the band members…”  Yeah, they were that bad.

They seemed like nice enough guys and I hate to pick on them too much (one of my original reasons for not writing this review).  But, they took up 45 minutes of my year that I’ll never get back.  So, I wish them much success…and hope they improve somehow.

Next up was Mike Viola, he was in a group you’ve never heard of called “The Candy Butchers”, they wrote pretty cool power pop stuff.  Then, along with one of the guys in FOW he wrote most of the cool songs from the Tom Hanks movie “That thing you do”.  He didn’t do those songs….

He did his new album, which was fine enough singer/songwriter stuff.  He even did a Dewey Cox song he wrote for the movie “Walk Hard” (Beautiful Life)…But, if you’re somewhat obscure, even if you’re talented.  How do you ignore the one song you’ve written that the crowd might actually know?  I mean, even Springsteen trots out “Born to Run” every night to offset “Outlaw Pete”.  Mike, throw us a morsel and we’ll likely be happier following along with your current musical passions.  Looking back a coupe months later, I couldn’t tell you the melody of anything he played….but, I could still hum “That Thing You Do” and it came out in 1996….

I love the Fountains of Wayne.

I didn’t love them so much this time.

There was a missing element that just left me feeling like they were sort of phoning in the show.  I’ve seen them numerous times and they were always a lot of fun.  This time I felt like they were a band who were gong through the motions.  Their new CD is great (Sky Full of Holes), the selection of material was fine.  There was just no spark.  Even the (seemingly) improv part at the end with snippets of “Twilight Zone” (by Golden Earring), “Everybody Wants You”, “Jet Airliner” and “Do you Feel LIke We Do” fitting into their own “Radiation Vibe” was okay, but never reached the heights I’d expected.

If you’d never seen them, I’m sure it was a solid show.  But, for me it fell short of what I’d seen before and expect out of them.  I was thinking they felt like a band who knew their time had passed.  They took their shot with “Stacy’s Mom”, but never quite scaled the charts the way one would have expected.  So, this felt like “another show for another club of a few hundred people”….and it was served with a dose of realization this may be the limits of their success.  They’ve put out four or five excellent albums and this is the best they’ve been able to do.  It was a bit sad in a way.  They are very talented, but it just seems like they can’t catch that break that will make them take off.  Heck, maybe it was just an off night, but my overwhelming impression was of a band that had lost heart and was just going through the motions.

Here’s a clip off the new album done live on Letterman

Sadly, they didn’t do this…one of the strongest cuts on the new CD

And here’s something from their last CD

I hate to be so hard on them, I really do like their music.  But, even two months later a vague disappointment lingers.  It didn’t help that I saw Frank Turner within a few days of this show, and you’ve seen what I wrote about him previously.  The comparison in such a short period of time was just too striking.


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