Monday, August 20, 2007

Fountains of Wayne

The family went out last night to Neumo’s to see the powerpop (at least that what I’d call them) Fountains of Wayne and a pretty good time was had by all, even though in order for dad to get a beer, he had to step out of the all-ages section and retire by himself to the upstairs bar where a cold one could be quaffed.

I thought the event was pretty sweet, though; we somehow managed to squeeze into an area where there were half a dozen other kids—maybe related to the band somehow because a couple of them were singing along with nearly every tune—and the band itself seems to have charms that extend across both generations and gender.

Mimi likes them because of the tuneful melodies and clever lyrics; Jen, I think, responded favorably to their sincerity and musicianship; I really like how they take these songs that, on record, verge on bubblegum pop, but in concert, turn them into fairly raggedy rockers.

Their big hit, for example, Stacy’s Mom, which was even used in a minivan commercial, came off live as more of a gutsy love song composed by middle-aged rockers than the adolescent fantasy it was sold as; the guitar in it was much harsher and percussive than in the studio version, and the chorus emerged from a fuzzed-up verse that emphasized the song’s driving beat way more than its catchy melody.

I did find their songs about working stiffs—“Hey Julie,” for example, or “Hackensack”—sort of poignant; it struck me that they’ve written these odes to guys who are just putting in the time, making a living while their youthful dreams die and now, in their own careers, the Fountains are essentially in the same place.

It doesn’t look like they’ve ever break it really big, so now, here they are, touring constantly, doing basically the same thing they’ve done for the last decade, with no obvious way out.


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