Live Show: 7/25/98


Syracuse, NY

Reviewed by: Dante, Dan Godwin, Paul, & Tanner

The Details

Like a Dog in a Butcher Shop: Fruvous at Styleen's in Syracuse, 25 July 1998 by Dante "Hanrahan when I'm chatting" Blando

(This review is dedicated to Miriam from Albany. She got to the show just in time for the second half of the second encore and thus her first Fruvous show was two minutes long. May your perseverance turn your luck around!)

I tried my hardest to get at least one of my Fru-Gin friends to come to this show, and I was honored the Lads deflowered Kevin from Jersey with one of their finest shows in a long time. Rather than go through set details, since I don't have a set list and thus I am running from memory, I'm going to give more of a color commentary.

I parked right in front of the venue at four o'clock and decided the car would not need to move again for another ten hours. I met Andy from Buffalo and her "little brother" Dave (no relation) and wound up learning how far one can traipse within a single block of a Yuppified district. I was lucky to find a pint of bitters and some great conversation, not to mention some good albums (I would reel off the list but I've already been mocked for buying one "sellout" album from a band never before available in the U.S. so I'll enjoy my buys alone).

So many of you arrived I'm in shock. However, most of my memory of playing catch-up has been obliterated by this image of a seven-foot-tall drag queen. S/he walked into the diner where I ate with Kevin after the show and ravaged my line-of-sight. The world may end sooner than I thought...

It's also too bad Styleen's is closing soon, as it's a great venue. It's filled with lounge kitsch, including accordions on the walls and murals of the greats of Southern music this century. The decor took an amazing amount of work, and the bonus of a huge patio right off the stage room allowed the cool evening air to soothe the hot audience.

The opening act: some kid on an acoustic guitar. I walked away to find out if Kevin had arrived. He had, only he had a moustache and it took me a while to adjust. If I had to vote, I would elect the moustache as more interesting.

Then the finest set I've seen in a long time began. They opened with the elongated Sahara and headed into Jockey Full of Bourbon: standard fare (aka. dang cool) up to that point. However, the band really showed their colors (colours, for those of you using the metric system) when the first chunk of banter began. Keep in mind the reports I'd heard regarding the Oswego show the previous night had been that the band was badgered by people screaming for the Drinking Song and not shutting up when it came on. I figured the Lads would be haggard and not want to see another Counties in New York Starting with O crowd and they'd just phone in the performance. Instead, they decided to do a set the way they wanted, mocking requests and putting us into the palms of their hands. We were putty...

They made up a song about Buffalo, based upon the premise, as Jian put it, "you grow up in Toronto thinking Buffalo is just this sh*t hole and then you go there and find out it IS a sh*t hole but there's more to it."

They started to play BJ Don't Cry but Jian kept varying his tempo and the band responded elastically. Then Mike skipped the entire second verse and the other guys had to scurry to compensate for being in the bridge. Then Jian explained his drumming actions by suggesting he wanted to try the demo-disc tempo of the song but realized they hadn't discussed this idea prior to the show. Thus they headed into a mellow second version, with whispered lyrics and softer brush strokes on the dum-bek. They were so on-cue with even their flubs!

They played several of the new songs, two of which I hadn't heard. I don't like the sappy, radio-ready love ballads with no story line ('Sad Girl' and 'I Will Hold You'), but that's because I'm a guy and thus raised to frown on such things (save your letters, folks, I'm a jerk and I'm a cad). I'm growing towards the method of Mistra Know-it-All, and Pisco Bandito is a snappy, happy political allegory that's so hip Jian can't keep his fringed hat on from the groove it emits.

Mike turned into Lou Reed (man, the resemblance is awe-inspiring) and began to play 'Take a Walk on the Wild Side'. Suddenly, they switched into ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' without batting an eye. Back and forth this happened, creating a new story for the drag queen becoming a dancing queen. In fact, they were so good at this, the real thing had to come to life at Serpico's on Salina hours later. Such potent singing!

What really made me happy about this show was what got left out and what got played instead. Instead of 'My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors', which feels beaten into the ground in recent months, they did the Talking Heads' classic 'Psycho Killer' (during which Jian kept teasing us with the threat of starting to sing and making us laugh each time he didn't, about seven rounds total).

Another was getting to hear "Nuits de Reve" -- I figured I'd simply never get to hear it live and that was that. Instead, not only did they play it, Mike was so into the emotions of the song you'd think he feared his life depended on getting it out. I was the only one in my end of the crowd singing along, but I think it may have sent some people to snatch up a copy of Wood.

Finally, they dismissed all entreaties to do the drinking song and instead used the second encore to cover 'Allison', Elvis Costello's take on the Sixties soul tune 'Ghetto Child'.

Some may say this show was an experiment in how far Fruvous can get from the pigeon hole the recent tour has become; others may long for the repetitive nature of the typical set. I will only say the Syracuse show was a taste treat that I hope signifies an invigorated band solidifying its fan base.

From Dan Godwin:

Saturday, I was woke up by Sparky, Chris and Moe's adorable dog, around 8:00 am, which was way to early. He wanted to go out, and be petted. I had planned to go back to Oswego by noon, to see Rockapella, but with so little sleep, i decided to wait and just go to the 4:00 performance there. Mary and I left Rochester around 2:30, while Chris, Moe, Chrissy, and Tracy went to pick up Jen at the Airport. We got to Oswego a little late, and parked on the wrong side of the festival. We walked forever, until we found the main stage. Rockapella was all ready on, but I don't think we missed much. We found a place and sat. Rockapella was great. Mary said that they were better than Divinci's Notebook, although I've never seen them Live, so I can't really vouch for that. They finished up around 5:30. I went a bought some Cd's of theirs, and we headed out. We were supposed to meet Chris and others at Styleen's at 6 for dinner. We made it there after asking for directions 4 times and continually circling the blocks. We say Toby and the Fru-Bus, so we knew we were close. We found a place to park, and found Styleens. The doors opened almost on time, and the opening act finished fairly quickly.

Fruvous went on at 11 PM. They opened with the extended version of Sahara. It sounded great. After that was a rockin' version of Jockey, with Mike repeating the First verse, as in the Original Tom Waits version. Next Came BJ, which sounded really weird. The tempo was kinda messed up, and then Mike skipped the second verse. After, Jian said that he was slowing it down, as in the Indie tape version. Some banter persued, and they went into a really slow version of BJ with Dave on the Les Paul, instead of the accordian. That was really cool. During this, I got a great picture of Jian and one of his expressions. Also during this banter, a certain goup of Fruheads held up a poster with the Falcon Ridge Logo on it, and a big red NO symbol, like for No Smoking though it, It was great, and got a reaction from the band. After BJ came Horseshoes, and Sadgirl. I really like how Sad Girl is coming along. Next came Pisco. I love this song. Someone a purchased a great, Mexican style hat for Murray during this song. He refused to wear it, so Jian put it on. It was hilarious. After Pisco, came YWGTTM, Greatest man in America, and Boo Time. All were great sounding. The guys were definitely on tonight. During Boo Time, a bunch of Fruheads donned Hats similiar to the ones the Guys wear Next came Mistra Know-It-All. I love this song... It's Great!!! Afterwards they did the kid's song, without any intro. Then came another new song. I will Hold On. Another great song. I think it is very Bob Dylan-like. I love it! Laika came next. This was a great suprise, especially since the last time I saw it was in Buffalo a month ago, and they said they weren't too sure if they remembered the Chords. It sounded amazing. Half as Much was next. Another New song!!! Michigan Milita, Saucepan, and Message were all next. These songs were also great. The Guys were sooo on!! No No Raja was supposed to be next, but It was cut out because Jian had hurt his finger..They did Nuits de Reve!!!!! I've never heard this live, I was sooo excited! They then went to King/GE&H Great versions. This was also the first time I didn't hear anyone say, "Now i eat humble pie" in the beginning when the guys always say something else. It really suprised me. Either everyone had been to a show before, owned Live Noise, was really quiet, or had never heard the song before. It was weird. They ended the set with Get in The Car, and Psycho killer. Great sounding. before they came out for the first Encore, three set lists had disappeared. They came out and did Present Tense Tureen and Dancin' Queen and left again. During this break, Jian's setlist dissappeared. They came out and seemed kinda pissed that all the Setlists were gone. They got over it, and ended the Night with Allison. I've never heard this song before. It was truely amazing. The whole night was amazing. The banter included a song about Buffalo, (The best fruvos town!!) and another where they devided the crowd into 4 sections the first sad Ham, the second said Ch- cheese, the third said Pea Green Soup, and the last said Fuck You! It was hilarrious!!!! Before the first Encore, they said that some people miss good shows, some people miss well performed shows, and that some people miss fun shows. They wanted this to be a fun show, but it was truely all three!!! Thanks to Chris and Moe who Graciously provided Crash Space for the weekend!

From Paul:

We got to Styleen's only to see a small group of people waiting to get in, so we decided to cruise the streets a bit. We made our way around to a side street and peeked into an alley where we could see Cal doing the sound check in Styleen's! We were interupted by a beggar on the street, so we started walking again when Sherri said, "Why didn't you wave at Dave?" I was shocked! I didn't even see him! So, we went back and sure enough, there he was sitting in a chair in the doorway tuning a guitar. He saw us again and this time I waved. He smiled and waved back.

Once we got in, I talked with some nice people I met as Sherri claimed her spot on Dave's side of the stage. The sound was a bit off I thought. Too much feedback, or else I was just too close to the speakers. Still though, the show was incredible! I enjoyed all the new songs, and they seemed to really have a lot of fun that night. The Grunge bit was very funny. "Total Recall, Terminator... these are films by Schwartzenegger". Does anyone know what Mike was screaming?

The Buffalo improv was great. "Buffalo... $$$$-Hole!" Hee hee!

I liked "Pisco" a lot, and I hope the picture Sherri took of Jian with the mexican hat turns out! Too bad Murray wouldn't wear it!

I also liked Dave's pickin' and strummin' on the banjo. He didn't seem to get what Jian wanted him to do after their jam session. It took them three tries before Dave finally blended it into "Militia". That sounded awesome! that whole routine was classic. They should really try to work that into their intro for that song.

Their last song was "Allison" from Elvis Costello. They did a great version of that song.

We waited around until we saw Jian. We thanked him for an awesome weekend and said we'd see him again soon. Again, he remembered my name as he said good-bye. Great bunch of guys!

All-in-all, I would have to say that the Styleen's show was by far the best Fruvous show I ever went to. They had the energy, the humor, the improv... they just seemed to be really into it. Can't wait til next time!

From Tanner:

Wow. I really don't know if I can put this show into words. I had a feeling that, after the performance of the night before in Oswego, we were in for a good show. Little did I know how good. After six years and eighteen shows of Frvous fandom, I can honestly say that this was the most incredible show I have seen.

Bonnie and I arrived at about eight, whereupon we ran into Andy, Chris, and Lisa. After waiting for about half an hour, the doors opened for one of the final Styleen's shows.

Once inside, we hung out and proceeded to run into Paul, Freebase, and a plethora of others I hadn't seen in a long, long time. Finally, we heard the string sample that could only signify the beginning of the awe-inspiring live rendition of "Sahara". The boys then jumped right into the rest of the set, including "Jockey" (in which Mike actually sang all three verses, rather than simply repeating the first in place of the third), "BJ" (which Mike rather comically shortened), and a bizzare BJ/Jockey hybrid (Jockey full of BJ?). Many, many new songs were played, including "Sad Girl", "I Will Hold On", "Pisco Bandito", and "Half As Much", one that I had not heard before. The energy level could not have been higher without inciting spontaneous combutions both in the crowd and on stage. High points included the Mike vs. Dave bullfight during "Green Eggs", and the closer ("Allison" by a band I don't remember but should in place of the Drinking Song). Huge amounts of kudos to Jian for the percussion in "Laika", a rumbling, primal rhythm that made this the most incredible rendition of the song I have heard yet. I was also overjoyed to finally hear "Nuits de Reve" live, a song so cool that I actually took the time to learn the lyrics (in French, which is a feat for someone with an F in French 101). Lastly, I'd like to applaud Styleeen's for keeping the disco ball out of Mike's reach. Anyone who was there back in December knows what I mean.

All in all, the most incredible show I've seen (and I've seen some good ones).

And now, a moment of silence for the venue that had become my favorite place to see the Frlads perform. Alas, Styleen's, you will be missed.

The Pictures

Click the description to get the pic:

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 1998 page