Fountains of Wayne @ Largo at the Coronet, 1/21
Photo by Kazumichi Kokei
The east coast band performed their brand of clever pop at Largo at the Coronet last Wednesday to an enthusiastic crowd. The beauty of Fountains of Wayne lies not in their hooks, although they're very catchy, but in their attention to detail. If the Devil is in the details, Fountains of Wayne must hang out with him all the time.
Their lyrics are alive with seemingly mundane activities of every day life that tickles you with it's imagery and makes you giggle. For example in Hey Julie the hero works for a manager "With a clip-on tie and a rub-on tan." You know exactly what sort of guy their talking about. You've met him. You may even work for him. Or in their new song A Summer Place the heroine is afraid of her cuisinart. Or in Red Dragon Tattoo the hero gets a tattoo at Coney Island so that the woman of his dreams can "Stop pretending I've never been born/Now I look a little more like that guy from Korn." You can easily imagine what sort of women dreams of being with a member of Korn.
Fountains of Wayne themselves are almost entirely without rock star flair. There was no leather, no studs, no black makeup. They looked like a bunch of guys who were playing for fun on the weekends, not members of a rock band that has been around for a decade. Only the lead guitarist looked remotely rockish with his tight jeans and floppy hat. "We used to rock, but now we're too old," admitted lead singer Colin Collingwood. Which is utter crap. Great songwriting and infectious pop never goes out of style.
Fountains of Wayne played their greatest hits including Hackensack, Valley Winter Song, and a very slow jazzy version of Stacy's Mom. Audience participation was strongly encouraged in every song and for Hey Julie they had three volunteers from the crowd shake tambourines. Utterly relaxed on stage, Fountains of Wayne had no qualms about starting songs over if they didn't sound right or mocking each other on stage. Whenever Adam Schlesinger switched between bass and piano his band mates called him Tori Amos or Elton John. Shoutouts were given to their roadie named "Knuckles." They told stories of how they've achieved their dream...having one of their songs in an LL Bean commercial that sold mittens despite the fact that Valley Winter Song is about having seasonal affective disorder.
If Fountains of Wayne had a mantra perhaps it would be, "Don't Be So Damn Serious." Which in these economic times is really refreshing. We need a laugh at this moment in history more than anything else. Otherwise we're going stress out to the point where we shrivel up and die as a nation. Humor is of the utmost importance when everything else looks bleak. Which is why when Fountains of Wayne closed the night with a proclaimed "political song," I was really excited. No politicians were mentioned but, Leave the Biker sure did make a statement.
Want to read more about Fountains of Wayne? Be sure to read the LAist Interview with Adam Schlesinger.
Fountains of Wayne - Someone To Love (hi)