Last night my wife and I headed down to Wash U to see Mike Doughty play. The gig was at the Gargoyle which is basically a rec room in the basement of the union and there is a student group that brings acts in. It’s very no frills. :) It was also very hot. But it’s nice because it’s really small and you’re basically hanging with the band.
The show started with 4 guys coming out in really bad fake beards and hats. They sat down and played a handful of weird arty electronic tunes. They were not good. And yet, I enjoyed it as each of the tunes had parts that got a groove going. The “singer” actually faced the drummer for most of the set other than the one point where he turned around and started reading a passage out of some book about Euclidean geometry which turned into a chant at the end in time with the music. There was one song with muttering. The drums were noticeably good. I think no one was sure what to make of the whole thing but were assuming it was some bad college band.
After a long break, the opening band The Panderers came out. They are a new band signed to Mike Doughty’s brand new label Snack Bar. As the band came out, we realized that these were all the same guys from the first “band” sans disguises and with a real singer. It later turned out the band is also the band supporting Mike on the tour.
Anyhow, I really enjoyed The Panderers. They played a variety of styles and I thought the singer had a good voice. Scrap Livingston played an upright bass on a couple tunes and in general they were fun. They endured a long and awkward bit in the middle of their set when some of the sound equipment died but they handled it well and I don’t think anyone minded much.
Finally Mike came out (same band, yet again) and kicked things off. The first few songs were a little disorganized and they didn’t seem to be clicking but I think they were having a lot of monitor/sound problems on the stage and once they got that sorted out, things kicked into a great groove.
I think the only song I didn’t know was the first one which I think now was “Soft Serve”. He did a lot of stuff off the new album Golden Delicious, which I really like. Off the top of my head: Fort Hood, Put It Down, 27 Jennifers, I Wrote a Song About Your Car, Nectarine, and Navigating the Stars at Night. He also did a sampler jam that led into a version of More Bacon than the Pan Can Handle.
He hit the last album Haughty Melodic pretty hard and did Busting up a Starbucks, Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well, Unsingable Name, Tremendous Brunettes, and I Hear The Bells. He also did Ossining from Skittish/Rockity Roll. From the Soul Coughing era, he did Circles and St. Louise is Listening which suited me just fine as those are probably two of my favorites. He covered The Gambler and also did the song written by a 4-year old, Firetruck. :) I think that covers the set or at least what I can recall from memory.
Mike also had some technical difficulties (besides the early sound issues) with a broken string half-way through. He tried to keep some conversation going while he swapped it by asking the guys what they did today. Kirby, the keyboard player had bought a new nail clipper that “had no stabby bit” so you could take it on the plane. Mike liked the description but was underwhelmed. Scrap, the bass player had bought a book at the book store and walked around campus. Rock and roll, baby!
I think one of my favorites was probably I Hear the Bells, which was the only one they did with no drummer and Scrap played guitar along with Mike. They had a great tone together and the singing was excellent. I think Navigating the Stars at Night probably also rose above the rest as a great performance. I enjoyed hearing the Soul Coughing tunes a lot – it was just enough. I’ll mention again that the drummer kicked butt. Mike and all of the guys in the band seemed like they were having a great time which was really cool.
Before the 3rd to last song, Mike said they were going to play one more, then he was going to play the “last” song and introduce the band. Then because it was a pain to get off the stage, they would just turn to the back and pretend they were gone and perhaps we would keep clapping. And then they would turn around to their shock and amazement and play one more song. Seemed to work.
If you get a chance to see Mike, it’s a good show, so check it out. I ran across another review as well of the show if you’re interested.