Live Show: 11/14/97


New York, NY

Reviewed by: Chris O'Malley & Colleen Campbell

The Details

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Ahh... New York City. I hadn't been down here since last New Year's, and was greatly anticipating this trip. Friday morning I headed for Utica to pick up Mike and Kelly, and awoke to a winter wonderland. It took me from seven till almost ten to make it; normally, it should take a little less than two hours. :(

Mike was faithfully waiting for me at the thruway exit. We went to Mike's mom's in Utica, got Kelly, and the three of us headed to the Bronx, to meet up at Lisa Goldberg's. We pulled up around four and waited for Lisa to come home from work. Once she arrived, we chatted for a bit and headed to Manhattan.

After some minor setbacks, like heading to Queens, we made it to the Mercury Lounge by six or so. We immediately found Laurie and Craig, and stopped in to a restaurant across the street from the venue to grab a bite. Jason, Colleen, Rob, Jenn, Heather, and Chad joined us shortly thereafter. We traded photos and stories, signed the 'happy-face man' postcard, and waited for doors to open at 7:45.

It was raining. And it was very cold, I might add. The venue finally let us in after we were all thoroughly soaked. Tory Cassis went on around 8:30, played a short set, to a VERY mesmorized audience sitting on the floor. It was like having someone in your living room singing to you by a fireplace. Peter Sillet went on a little past nine and played for a half hour as well. He was decent; the crowd didn't seem as into him, though.

Fruvous come on around 10:30, and played for more than two hours. The set was a little mixed up from what we're used to with the new tour, which was nice. Chris and Zard arrived before they went on, and during/afterwards I said hellos to Ben Feingold, Bill Bowen, Susan Tanner & Kevin (from BLR), and some others, whose names I can't remember.

After the set, we didn't have much time to chat, and we were finally booted out (actually, very graciously) by two in the morning. Kelly, Mike, Lisa and I headed back to Lisa's, and stayed up chatting, and playing Jenga. Oy!

Till tomorrow...

From Colleen Campbell:

*Godawful Long Review And Therefore Not For The Faint Of Heart. Don't say you weren't warned.

I've already read a couple of reviews of individual shows this weekend (Gordon's & Vika's of Saturday), and I'm sure there are more being constructed by others as I type this, but I've always been one to love reading of others' impressions and points of view of the shows they attend--in much the same way that Fruvous is more than the sum of its parts, so is the Fruhead group. And this will be the last review I have the chance to do until the Fruhead show next February, so I'm drawing out the experience as long as I can make it last. . .

I had some really rotten luck this summer with getting to Fruvous shows (and getting home again)--NINE HOURS late once--so I was quite paranoid about my flight getting out on time, Friday afternoon: it was scheduled to leave at 4 and get in at 7, with Fruvous reportedly on at about 10, but I'd also be trying to find the venue on my own, in a very large, strange, not-hugely-safe city in the dark, in the cold, it's too late, it's too far, etc etc. . . So I finally decided I'd rather not spend the day worrying, blew off work (heh. I love my job, have I ever mentioned? ;) and went to the airport in the morning, hoping against hope for a standby flight. Got the first one out, easily, and got into NYC at about 3:30. (The flight was late, so everyone else was griping, while I was going, "Cha-ching!! I'm here hours early!") To skip ahead to the punchline of this meandering tidbit, the next day, Dan Jablonski found out for me that I had even more reason to be self-congratulatory: the original flight I was to take not only would have been late. . .it never left! Weather conditions got too bad, and I would have been stuck in Florida until the next morning.

So, I had plenty of time to chill with other Fruheads, which was lovely. Many of them were reminiscing about the Philly show the night before, which only served to get me all the more psyched for the upcoming trio. That was the first of the nights we kind of took over some eating establishment or other--Nice Guy Eddie's, across from the venue, where we exchanged pictures from previous Fruhead trips, caught up with each other, and spilled beer on each other. ;) I'm sure I'm going to forget *someone* who was there the first night, but dredging my memory brings up Heather Rolph (down from T'ron'o, as she pronunciates it, for her first-ever-night in NYC), Chris O, Chris T and Zard, Jason, Mike & Kelly, Bronx Fruhead Lisa, Chad from Indiana, Jenn Pike, Craig and Laurie, roB!, and Dan and Jered; I was also introduced to Jo, Bonnie, Joan, and Kimberly (Shilfell) later on..

Then came the fabled wait for the fabled opening of the doors. Ceecee gets her first taste of sleet in, um. .. well, I was never good with numbers. A long time. The venue wasn't hugely sympathetic to our plight, and opened the doors about half an hour after they said they would, but we finally whimpered our way inside. Okay, so *I* whimpered my way in. Two years of perpetual heat = wusshood. We all commingled and babbled and whatnot, and wended our way into the sanctum sanctorum, which was frigid frigidairean, to wait for Tory Cassis.

By the time he came on, a couple of people were sitting on the floor, and because there were to be two openers before Fruvous, I thought I'd be a follower and, at the risk of getting piles or something , flop my butt down on the concrete floor too. Everyone pretty much followed suit after that, setting the trend for the next two nights. It was, as Susan characterized it, a hushed, almost reverential atmosphere: everyone was very respectfully quiet, they clapped only after the last strains had faded away from each song, and basically, it felt like everyone was really *listening*.

It was gorgeous music: unpretentious, effacing the performer for the sake of the song, words that seemed like a carriage for the emotion they contained, and a very tender touch on the guitar. Tory really, really seemed to appreciate the audience's reaction, too, and was so humble as to attribute our presence there wholly to our devotion to Fruvous. We assured him, each night, that we were there that early to hear *his* work. Of especial note to me were the song he wrote with Dave, the song with the refrain, "Forgive me for committing such a crime" (sorry, I have no titles), and the one in which the audience enthusiastically snapped fingers in time. For whoever-it-was that asked, Tory says his album will be out next summer, including Stateside.

I can't remember the next performer's name, and that should give you an idea of my opinion of his music, too: he was a basic folk artist, maybe with slight punk overtones, and too loud and unengaging. Kind of like Hamill on Trial, on Valium. I thought the contrast interesting: Tory didn't put himself in anyone's face, just gave what he had and allowed the rapport to grow out of quietude, and everyone responded with respect and appreciation. I kind of wanted to walk up to the other performer and suggest he follow suit.

There was quite a long break until Fruvous came on, perhaps attributable to the amount of preparation a live recording setup takes. I did notice that nowhere in the three shows did any of the band have to ask for any modification in their monitors or mics, and I'd guess they did very thorough soundchecks beforehand. The sound, to my very-untrained ears, sounded really great: very vibrant, never too loud, a good fit for the small performance area of the Merc Lounge.

I didn't grab a set list, but it was a fairly long set, with all the new treats we've been getting: opened with a cappella Message to You and included the jazzy Boo Time and the slow WLUV-->Your New Boyfriend and Fell in Love, and the full Green Eggs and Ham. (Jian, as usual, went on too long for my tastes about his Papal animal-vegetable-mineral sex life during the GE&H intro. I've heard a lot of discussion about this, and it seems most people think it either in poor taste or simply not engaging, so I'm not sure what Jian's intending to get across.. . But I digress.) I don't remember Poor Mary Lane and On Her Doorstep, but I could be wrong. We did have Lazy Boy, with the standard "Who has a stereo that rocks?" line, as well as the standard tease with the opening of "Video Bargainville"--and, if I recall correctly, there were so many digressions and animal noises from the audience that Jian, perhaps for the sake of the live recording, started the song over. I'd never heard the Talking Heads' version of Psycho Killer, but two days before I'd happened on The Bobs' cover of it, so I could sing along fairly well, and I was glad for that--it was marvelous, the energy was great. I, for one, am really glad to be getting covers of what Fruvous has long named as their favorite performers--Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Stevie Wonder. . .

The audience was appreciative but not extremely energetic (though it was a sell-out audience, 250 people), but the guys played to us as they always do: lots of joking, lots of silliness, lots of reminders that this was a live recording and we were encouraged to scream our fool heads off. Which I did, evidence of which showed up by the next night. There was plenty of clapping and singing along in the group around me, but then again, the group around me was Fruheads, so I probably don't have an accurate impression of the audience as a whole. The audience was quiet during quieter songs like Fell in Love and Alison (for which Chris and Laurie were happily swooning in my vicinity), so I know it wasn't that they didn't care. Well, that and the fact that they were rather enthusiastic about squishing forward: we all morphed into sardines for a while, there

A few other notes (I don't remember all that much, actually, it being 3 nights ago): Jian looked right into the Fruhead group and grinned when we said along with him, "We're Moxy Fruvous from Toronto, and my baby loves a bunch of authors!"--which has rattled him in the past, to see people doing that. They tried a skit before I Love My Boss, with Dave, Mike, and Murray caricaturing the three "boss types"; I thought it a little too drawn-out and unfocused, but it was a nice change from the dog-food-factory story. Everyone kept ragging on Dave about his hair, or lack thereof (he had fuzzies going by then)--and he made some quips himself, though I can't remember on which night this took place. He was compared to Susan Powter and Yul Brynner, I do remember; surprisingly, not Picard. . . Mike accidentally switched the verses in Boo Time, which threw them off, and afterwards they mocked themselves with scat about "switcheroonie" and half-rhymes. Jian wore his traditional "I dig your boyfriend" shirt (which some people hadn't seen yet--Doug Levy, I think, commented on it). There was a great fake-out before Jockey Full of Bourbon--playing the intro to Sahara on accordian (I was disappointed, at first, thinking we were going to get the acoustic, dumbek version of Sahara). During Darlington Darling, Jian and Murray played bumper-cars off each other. Oh, and one note from the setlist I saw: I think it was Jian's, and it had Boyfriend and Fell in Love written as "Shit-Fell" and Michigan Militia and Johnny Saucep'n written as "Michy-Sauce" (takeoff on "vichyssoise," I would presume) which made me grimace wryly once again at their brilliance.

Afterwards, much hobnobbing with everyone--Ella, Hayley, Bill Bowen (the first I'd met him, in all this Fruving, and I was so out of it by then that I blurted something like, "You look nothing like I thought you would!"), St. Caffeine Vika--my PFR (possible future roomie!)--who came bounding in at some-godawful-o'clock, Jessica and Carps, Ben(ji), Susan (she of little sleep, who brought me an XTC tape, as promised!--what other band in the world would inspire their record reps to give presents to their fans?!). . . A huge group of us arranged to meet at Jekyll & Hyde's (trendy theme-restaurant) for a late lunch the next day, and then those of us crashing at Jason's stumbled our way out at after 2, went out for pizza, listened to (what else?) the show we'd heard that night, and were finally in bed at about 5. Moxy Fruvous: Swahili for "Sleep deprivation."

The Music

Opened with The Set Closed with Encore 1 Encore 2

Misc. Info

Some other tidbits from the performance include:

Back to the tour dates 1997 page