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Live Review: Fountains of Wayne with Nicole Atkins at Birchmere, Alexandria, VA – 8th August 2011

 
By on Tuesday, 16th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Words and photos by Cheryl Demas

“The boys of summer”: New York’s Fountains of Wayne could have borrowed that moniker from Don Henley when they played the Birchmere on Monday night. Not only were many of the songs actually about summer, but they repeatedly introduced songs as “being about summer”, continuing the joke through the entire set.

The venue, which bills itself as “America’s Legendary Music Hall”, was full of framed memorabilia and families. The crowd was largely couples in their 40s and families with children. It was oddly dinner-theatre like, with an extensive menu that nearly everyone but I partook in. The audience was also replete with after dinner entertainment – from kid’s read-aloud books and handheld game systems to newspapers, Sudoku and smartphones. Lots of smartphones.

The night’s opener, New Jersey’s Nicole Atkins, played without her band. Equipped with the requisite jokes about her home state, she won over the audience with her easy stage presence. Singing both her own songs and a few covers, I thoroughly enjoyed her eight-song set full of soulful, complicated lyrics sung with her rich, nuanced voice. The highlight was when Atkins played a Cotton Mather cover ‘Monterey Honey’ that completely outstripped the original. Her vocal power and emotion transform this song into something worth paying attention to. Her friend Leah Fishman of Nouvellas was on hand for three songs in the middle and Atkins left us with a song called ‘The Tower’ – a song about endings. But surely it is not the end of Nicole Atkins; a troop of new fans was launched that night.

This second of two nights for Fountains of Wayne was billed as an acoustic show. I wondered just what that would mean, but founding member Adam Schlesinger clarified it when he quipped, “I’m still playing my electric bass, it’s just not plugged into an amp. It’s all just a technicality”. What it did include was both Chris Collingwood and Jody Porter on acoustic guitars and a lovely baby grand piano. It made for a set that was still full force but had an acoustic flavor. The piano was most lovely during the hit ‘Stacy’s Mom’, which shined a little brighter from the “acoustic” treatment given to it.

Fountains of Wayne lyrics are heavily laden with references to regular life and what must be many inside jokes between the songwriters Collingwood and Schlesinger. The band clearly does not take themselves too seriously; they have fun on stage with one another. The music is pure, shimmery pop, especially the bubbly ‘The Summer Place’ from their most recent release, ‘Sky Full of Holes’ just released in the UK on the 1st of August. The joy of the music, the summery tone, the sometimes silly lyrics and the sheer fun the band and audience were having gave rise to a Beach Boys comparison…though their music does not sound similar.

One of the best segments of the night was after Collingwood complained in the middle of one of their earliest hits ‘Radiation Vibe’ that it was hard to riff on an acoustic guitar. He then proceeded into classic “acoustic riffs” from Kansas’ ‘Dust in the Wind’, Yes’ ‘The Roundabout’, Steve Miller’s ‘Swingtown’ and Peter Frampton’s ‘Do You Feel like I Do?’, some of which included sing alongs. To the delight of fans, the band satisfied just about everyone by playing a broad range of songs spanning their entire career. As I left the venue, I heard people planning their next Fountains of Wayne show in the next city – loyal fans are what it’s all about and tonight didn’t disappoint them.

After the cut: set lists and more photos.

Continue reading Live Review: Fountains of Wayne with Nicole Atkins at Birchmere, Alexandria, VA – 8th August 2011

 

Preview: Northside Festival

 
By on Friday, 4th June 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Williamsburg, Brooklyn may be the hipster capital of the world, but the Northside Festival is looking to be well worth wading through throngs of the bespectacled and skinny-jeaned. So named for it’s location in venues throughout the North side of Brooklyn, the art and music festival is now in its second year. Its stated goal is to “celebrate that community of independent musicians, filmmakers and artists in the place where it thrives the most, shining a light on the sheer talent and creativity that Brooklyn cultivates”.

Organized by the L Magazine and a collection of other NYC-based blogs, record labels, promoters and industry types, last year’s event saw the likes of the Hold Steady, Bill Callahan and others, and this year the lineup is shaping up to be just as good, if not better. Most of the set times and locations for bands’ performances have yet to be finalized, but here are just some of the bands that will be gracing Brooklyn stages as a part of Northside Festival: ?uestlove (DJ set), Au Revoir Simone , The Fiery Furnaces, Fucked Up, Jody Porter (of Fountains of Wayne), Les Savy Fav, Lissy Trullie, Male Bonding, and Wavves.

In addition to all of this great music, the festival also includes Northside’s inaugural FilmFest, as well as a number of exhibitions, special events and musical performances at more than 25 local art galleries (with help from the Williamsburg Gallery Association).

Four-day Northside badges go for a mere USD50 (approximately £34 at the time of this writing)and grant you “access on a first-come, first-served basis to every show taking place during the festival, in addition to all Northside art and film events. You’ll also be able to walk into tons of local bars and restaurants that will be offering discounts to badge holders on food and booze”. Because entry for badge-holders is first-come, first served, if there is a show you really want to see, it may be best to purchase individual tickets, most of which will be sold at the door the day of the show. Some of them are on sale now, and are listed with ticket links on the festival’s website.

The festival is also running a contest which can be entered here. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a coveted iPad 3G, two VIP All Access badges and a free t-shirt. The two Runner-Up Winners will get two VIP All Access badges and two t-shirts each, and the five 3rd Place Winners are given a regular festival badge and a t-shirt. Please note this contest is open to US residents only.

 

Fountains of Wayne

 
By on Wednesday, 9th May 2007 at 5:05 pm
 

Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and WeatherOkay, okay, I’ve left it a bit late to be doing this weeks “Band of the Week” but… well, I’ve busy. Busy busy busy. Plus, with the bank holiday, I’m only two days late. Well, thats what I like to try and fool myself by saying.

I had big issues choosing which band was to be “Band of the Week” with both Travis and Manic Street Preachers having efforts out. However, as both of these are “past their prime” shall we say I decided to settle on Fountains of Wayne, who had their fourth studio album “Traffic and Weather” out on Monday here in the UK. Most well known for their huge hit “Stacy’s mom”, they’re a band on the up, offering a 14 song collection of power-pop packed with humour and innovative story telling.

Opener “Someone to Love” is one of the highlights of the album, chronicaling the tale of Seth and Beth, who are both lonely, and ultimately Beth kills Seth. Lines such as “And an hour in the shower is the best that you’ve got” just fit in perfectly, and make the songs one of the best on the album.

Ballad I-95 is a delicate ballad about the Interstate 95, a yearning song again, about loneliness. Its a theme of the album, and one that probably stems from the bands years on the road.

The song titles on their own are pretty humorous – “Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim” “Planet Of Weed” and “Seatbacks And Traytables” being just three examples.

They play the Astoria in 12 days time on 21st May – give them a go. Much like Barenaked Ladies, they offer a show not to be missed.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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