Mike Doughty is great at hawking his wares. His merch girl Jess wears a superhero cape, he’ll sell you a copy of THE GIG YOU JUST SAW right after THE GIG YOU JUST SAW, and he’ll sign anything. “If you bring a chandelier up, I will sign it. If you bring an ocelot up, I will sign that, too.” he explained in one of several attempts to let the assembled Neumos mass know he had stuffs for sale. Dude understands that to be an independent artist, survival is not just based on an excellent catalog (check! New album Yes And Also Yes, is probably my fave of his) but also in the merch and the touching of fans. And after a truly rad set featuring Doughty and His Band Fantastic, tons of folks took him up on that and queued up to buy stuffs, and meet and greet small rock’s clever troubadour. There were, however, no ocelots. Disappointment.
But not disappointing? Doughty’s well-known for his wit, groovy guitar rock, deep voice and being a fine poet and bender of words. So, natch, the guy’s gonna play a solid set. Why’d you miss it?
So let’s talk about Band Fantastic – for it’s been a while since Doughty’s been out on the road group-stylee and left the Question Jar at home. Fantastic Band? It’s not a misnomer, they really were – to see pianist Dan Chen tickling both ivories old-school and synth, the Panderers’ Pete McNeal bashing out drums and longtime Doughty foil Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on electric bass, all together, was a treat. It gave a fullness to the songs, in a way that my ears haven’t heard live for a while. (And that’s saying something, me and Mike D go wayyy back.)
He’s not just funny, sly (when folks kept calling for Soul Coughing songs – poor guy – he suggested: “Uh you’d best go back and Wikipedia that shit”) or a skilled guitarist (his green Fender Coronado is THE SEXY), but he gives good rockstar too. You sorta forget that when he’s sitting doing the cost-effective stripped-down shows… this was a was a nice reminder.
Anyway. I digged, the folks there dug, the set started with “(I Keep On) Rising Up”, merged into “27 Jennifers” and “Tremendous Brunettes”, then veered into a smofe and smattering of pretty much, you know, a smorgasbord of the louder tracks in the solo cannon. My picks? The rockity rolling of “Ossining” and deep slow of “Down on the River by the Sugar Plant”. “Rational Man” and the popgood “Na Na Nothing, and funktastic “Vegetable” were also stellar.
But the bestest? Doughty – who’s not known for suffering loud-talking fools gladly – seems to have a new pet peeve. And one that I fully “Hell Yeah!” him on. Giant Tall Blonde Girl With Glasses In the Front Row, though probably sweet, and whom looked slightly bored through the entire gig, decided to start texting. And stay texting. For a while. Not just a quick, “ooh I took a picture and sent it to Twitter!” (I do that all the time), but for yonks. This act caught the bespectacled singer’s eye, who shot her a dagger. She kept texting. What’s a boy to do? Oh, you know, snatch it from her hands, and take pictures of the band with her phone. Dan Chen even posed with her for a photo.”Tsk tsk-ing” in a nice way? LOTS OF WIN, Mike Doughty!
After the groovy show, I hugged the Scrapman, chatted with other Canadian “Kashmir” Dan (formerly-known-as, though-still “Handsome” Dan), caught up with Doughty (he thanked me “for making the rip…wait? Rip? Why the fuck did I say that? I meant TRIP”), then went to collect my CD of the show. But I didn’t need to get it signed. No, I’mma gonna wait until I have an ocelot.\m/