When it comes to fanatical rock 'n' roll fans, the antics of the Grateful Dead's Deadheads immediately spring to mind.
But unbeknownst to some Canadians, Toronto's Moxy Früvous also have an equally crazed bunch of fans. They are called Früheads.
"It's a very strange phenomenon," said 31-year-old Jian Ghomeshi, the band's energetic stand-up drummer and singer. "It's very, very overwhelming; it's a bit like a cult following. They follow us to our shows and they learn every part of our songs."
Needless to say, Ghomeshi and Moxy Früvous - vocalist/bassist Murray Foster, vocalist/guitarist Mike Ford and vocalist/guitarist David Matheson - are honoured by the amount of support they receive from Früheads. And to show their appreciation, the band emblazoned New York's Chris O'Malley - a proven 50-show veteran - with a specially-designed Moxy Früvous 'butt tattoo'. Not suprisingly, O'Malley was a willing participant; he runs the band's fantastically in-depth Web site (www.früvous.com) and is involved in organizing the yearly Frühead convention.
It is stunts such as these, Ghomeshi says, that make Früheads unique. "Because there is such a wide constituency and they are such an eclectic group, that's the reason why they stand out so much. Every group that has some popularity has hardcode fans, but there is something about Früheads that makes them different.
Last year at the Frühead convention in Toronto, they had a walking tour of where we used to busk."
During their early days as a grass-root busking collective, Moxy Früvous's intelligent, barber shop-quartet pop wowed street audiences in Toronto. After they were nominated for Best Band at the Juno Awards in 1993, thanks to hits like My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors and King of Spain, the adulation began to cause some uneasiness.
"We were this very alternative, very different band that all of a sudden has this tremendous commercial exposure," he said. "Not only is that difficult for any band, but in our case especially, we were always very uncomfortable with this commercial perception of what we were. It fostered some really skewed perceptions of what Moxy Früvous is all about."
The band has since gone on to greener pastures. And like Alanis Morissette, Barenaked Ladies, Celine Dion and Bryan Adams before them, Moxy Früvous has found the U.S. market to be tremendously supportive of their endeavors.
"We did a show in Philadelphia that had 3,000 people there, and a show in Buffalo that had 7,000 people there," Ghomeshi said. "Those are the kind of numbers that we can't do in most of Canada."
Judging by the results, the U.S. has definitely caught the Moxy Früvous bug; their web site gets 7,000 hits a month, while NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery chose to use their song You Will Go to the Moon as its morning wake-up music. Not bad at all, considering that Moxy Früvous only started concentrating on U.S. audiences four years ago.
"Our success there is almost entirely based upon word-of-mouth, alternative press, alternative radio and the Internet," Ghomeshi said. "We're tapped into the same sort of phenomenon as the Dave Matthews Band, Ani DiFranco and Phish have."
The band's latest release is Live Noise, a 23-track live album the band compiled from the tapes of their 1997 stateside tour. Live Noise is a perfect example of the band's maniacal live show, Ghomeshi says, the exact type of performance that has earned the band its fanatical following.
"We've always thought that our live show is our forte because we're such an ecelectic band. This album is a real, comprehensive taste of what we're all about. It very real; it's very live."
Tonight's performance at Legends will the band's first Victoria show since its McPherson Playhouse appearance in 1993. As a gift, Ghomeshi apologetically promised that Moxy Früvous will offer something unique for the patient Victoria audience.
"We will never do the same show twice. For better of for worse, you will always see a show that no one else has ever seen. And we certainly promise that for Victoria."