Live Show: 8/17/99


Bryn Mawr, PA

Reviewed by: Lisa, Katie & Alison

The Details

Before I begin, I just want you all to know that I'm not a detailed-oriented person. (ESFJ : P ) Things like set-lists and "banter" quotes will hopefully be posted by someone else, but I will tell you the things I do remember. : )

The FDC stated that the Point seats 100 people. I personally think there were about 75 people there and there wasn't a bad seat in the house. Michaela mentioned how the guys told her that by 2:00 the transcript of the morning show was posted on the FDC. I'm not sure if she meant that or the newsgroup, but needless to say she "gave permission" to do the same with the World Cafe performance.

The rapport between Fruvous and Michaela was very entertaining!!

They chatted about musical influences, Canada vs. US, the Thornhill area and many other things----a lot of it was also stuff they talked about on the morning show. This taping is supposedly going to be broadcasted in October ...which was news to Michaela, but Jian assured her that David Dye (sp?) said that's when it was scheduled to run. "You'll probably only end up playing two of the songs anyway," said Jian. LOL They had to stop playing a few times because the sound wasn't perfect and re-introduce songs (Splatter,Splatter and If Only You Knew), but that added to the magic of the evening. Murray and Jian were in rare form busting on Michaela from time to time, but she got her jabs in ---especially with her "two-dollar" words (as Dave calls them) LOL. She mentioned the word "thrumming" in a sentence and they thought she screwed up the word "strumming". Michaela corrected them and said,"No, I meant thrumming." The guys didn't know what it meant and she said, "Look it up in the dictionary!" (THRUMMING: 1. to play or pluck a stringed instrument idly: strum 2. to sound with a monotonous hum. 3. to play (a stringed instrument) in an idle or relaxed manner.)

They basicly did Thornhill songs and a few oldies like Michigan Militia, Pisco, Marion Fruvous, Lazyboy. Sorry--- these are the only ones I remember. They did break out into a country version of Depeche Mode's People are People after Michaela asked Dave if he was influenced by country music. Jian answered that for him Depeche Mode was considered country. LOL Murray mentioned how playing all these folk festivals has opened his mind to other types of music since he prefers pop and classic rock. Mike then breaks out into People Are People with a twang. IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!

They played for almost 2 1/2 hours and then of course came out to chat with whoever was there after the show. Dave told us that he was definitely starting to feel grind of doing show after show after show. << Luckily, they have Jian who NEVER stops talking . : ) >>

Well, that's about it. Sorry it wasn't as detailed as other reviews, but I do hope it gave you an idea of what the show was like. I don't know how these guys do it, but THANK GOD they do!!!! Dave mentioned the possibility of me ODing on Fruvous by going to too many shows, but I don't think that could ever happen!!!

See you at Ramshead (table 109)!

From Katie:

I'll warn you again: this is really, really long :).

I *am* (unlike Lisa :) very details oriented, so I figured I’d fill in some of the blanks. I wasn't about to stomp all over the people in couches and on the floor to get a setlist off of the stage, so this is completely from memory.

I had been told when I called the Point that although XPN was claiming that doors would open at 7:30, they'd be opening them at seven to ensure that everyone could get seated and get food. The doors didn't end up opening until past 7:30 and all of the tables on the "ground" level of the cafe were filled by the time I and my three companions got inside (and past the lovely Mary Krause who took our names :). We relegated ourselves to the steps in front of one of the raised seating areas (the one reserved for XPN staff) and sat there until the show started around 8:30. The stage area was *tiny*; Murray (or Dave at times) had to sit to play bass, Jian had his back against a wall, and Mike hit his head on a strut when he leaned it back to speak into the bullhorn. Maybe intimate is the kinder word, but it just doesn't do the job :).

At any rate, Michaela Majoun (the host for the evening) was sitting on a stool with a microphone in front of the stage. She began by thanking us all for coming and reminding us that our reactions (appropriate or inappropriate) were going to be part of the broadcast. She mentioned the morning's interview and noted that we shouldn't worry if we missed it - Jian told her that *someone* had put a word-for-word transcription on the internet by 2:00 that afternoon. I would like to defend myself by saying that it certainly wasn't word-for-word, and apologize for the terrible grammar :). I'll send ChrisO a cleaned-up copy to put on FDC. With that, she brought the band on. This set list is completely out of order and possibly incomplete, but it’s the best I could do . . .

Half As Much
Sad Girl
When She Talks
Splatter Splatter
Independence Day
I Will Hold On
If Only You Knew
My Poor Generation
Marion Früvous
Johnny Saucep’n
River Valley
Michigan Militia
Bluegrass Version of Depeche Mode’s “People are
You’re Gonna Lose That Girl
Something by Randy Newman
Lazy Boy

Half As Much was the opener, Michigan Milita was the closer and You’re Gonna Lose That Girl was the encore -– I know that much :).

They guys were absolutely hilarious in their interplay with Michaela. Some of the bits I remember:

Jian introed “Sad Girl” as a song about “heroin chic,” hurting your body with drugs because it’s fashionable. I’ve never heard him use this intro before; usually he just says it’s about the way popular culture has created a sense that being happy is just uncool, and that it’s evidenced by a lot of the music that has been popular in this decade. I think this take is fascinating, though. Thanks, Jian :).

Dave got a lot of kudos last night. Kudos were defined by Mike as members of a species of deer that can like their own eyeballs. They have so many of them in Canada that they’re giving them away left and right. Dave mentioned that he was lucky he hadn’t swallowed a contact and Murray told him that he lost a kudo for that comment :). The whole kudos thing started when Michaela asked them to talk about ‘Thornhill’ and Dave said that they’ve never been happier with an album -– that usually each of them has something they don’t like about a record, but with Thornhill they’re all content. This prompted Jian to discuss their growth as a band and mention for the second time in a day that they feel that as a band, this is the best they’ve ever been. He said that part of their charm in the early days may have been that they were a little instrument shy, and that they’ve all matured a lot in that aspect – but that from the beginning, Dave was one of the best musicians in Canada.

After “Independence Day,” Michaela decided it was time to display her vast Canadian knowledge by noting that the original title of the song was “Dominion Day.” Mike chimed in with “The host is referring to the former name of Canada’s national holiday observance,” in his best radio announcer voice. Michaela responded with something about Canadians which prompted Jian to put on a mock-offended attitude and berate her for her Canadian stereotyping. “You can just take your beer and hockey jokes and leave,” he said. Before beginning “When She Talks,” Jian talked about how the band members bring songs to the group. He said that because the band tries to write more complex, intellectual music, there was a time when he wouldn’t have felt comfortable playing a simple song to the other guys -– that he’d rather play a new composition for anyone but them :). Murray commented that it’s a sign of their growing confidence in their own abilities that they chose to record simpler songs for the new album. Michaela said it was a sign of maturity. With that, they played “When She Talks.” After the song, as the guys were rearranging themselves, Michaela asked Jian if he had brought that song to the group. “Yeah,” he said. That was it. ‘Guess he didn’t want to talk about it :). I'm still wrapping my mind around the "the persona of the song loves the woman but will never get over the fact that he can't possess her" aspect of the whole thing that Jian brought up in OC :). This led into a discussion of their manager Jack Ross. During “My Poor Generation,” I leaned down to put my plate on the floor next to the steps on which I was sitting and happened to put it right next to the left shoe of . . . Susan Werner :). She was standing by the door watching the show, singing along, and grinning. It made my night to see one of their fellow Bottom Line artists there to support them. Just one more reason why Susan Werner is my hero :). That, and the fact that she could sing the contents of a soup can and I’d sit there and listen to it.

Just before “Earthquakes” Michaela inquired as to how much of an influence country music had had on the band. Murray stated that it hadn’t had much of an influence on the band in general, that most of them grew up listening to classic rock and pop and didn’t really have access to country music. Jian qualified, “Only so much as Depech Mode is country.” That started them in on a bluegrass/country rendition of Depeche Mode’s “People are People.” Jian then added that Dave has a vast amount of knowledge of early country and folk, though he couldn’t name a Who song to save his life, and that that knowledge influenced songs like “Earthquakes.” They used a banjo for it this time, and Jian had a big shakey thing in each hand (namely the cylindrical shiny metal one Mike uses in “Misstra” and the wicker one he himself uses in “Tureen”).

Just before “Marion Früvous,” the guys teased that they were going to reveal the meaning of their name. Turns out they got it from grade school film strips about Canada’s first environmental crusader, Marion Früvous :). This led to a 3/8/98 Iron Horse show-esque filmstrip improv complete with projector sound effects provided by Jian and audio accompaniment beeps provided by Murray. “There are 10-year-olds out there who have no idea what the hell we’re talking about.” During the song Murray mentioned that Marion (sans any headgear :) looked a bit like Dr. Evil, prompting her to raise her pinky to her mouth.

There were a *lot* of flashes going off over the course of the night to the point where Dave Tobey had to wander around and ask people to either turn their flashes off or stop using their cameras altogether. I wish they had made a “no flash” announcement prior to the show :P.

Toward the end of the show Dave (?) made a comment to the effect of “We’re not even a third of the way through the set!” To which Jian replied “Yeah – we haven’t even touched on anything from ‘Nebraska.’” This led to a discussion of how Bruce Springsteen is quite possibly number one among musicians in terms of achieving superstardom (i.e., selling out 15 nights at Madison Square Garden) while still maintaining artistic integrity. They asked Michaela to pose the question to her listeners of who might be second, and several people from the audience made suggestions as well. Neil Young and Paul Simon were both mentioned; my vote went to Billy Joel. Shawn Stewart, XPN’s musical director (who was sitting behind me) mentioned Madonna, which I thought was an excellent choice (like she needs my approval :). Michaela mentioned Randy Newman. Jian noted that Randy couldn’t fill the Café at Madison Square Garden for one night, but that he was an example of artistic integrity nonetheless. They then played a Randy Newman song I didn’t recognize (forgive me – the only ones I know are “Short People Got No Reason to Live,” “I Love L.A.,” and “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” from ‘Toy Story.’).

Before “Lazy Boy,” Jian mentioned that they got their start on the streets of Toronto, singing as a hobby and building an audience like a juggler – by keeping people entertained. That got them stuck, however, with a Funny Band (tm) label. People called them a “Barbershop Quartet on Acid.” “Only half of that’s true,” said Dave. “We’re not a barbershop quartet.”

The intro to “If Only You Knew” began with Dave saying “I like to think Mike wrote this song for me, but he insists that he wrote it for his wife.” Mike then described the song as having been written as he stared out the window of the van thinking of his family, hating touring . . . then getting out of the van, watching his bandmates play hacky-sack and thinking “I love this!” or at least, “My they’re athletic.”

There was some Fleadh talk. They mentioned that Lucinda Williams had been on the tour. The band refers to her simply as Lucinda. Michaela noted that at XPN they call her Lu. Jian said that when the band calls her, they just call her L. Mike said that when they call her they say “Why have you been showing up on our caller ID all day?!”

Before “Michigan Milita,” Murray apologized to those of us who had been staring at his back all night and during the song turned around and smiled at us for a while.

They came out for the encore and Jian said “Well, we’re not going to play a Früvous song.” They discussed a bit and decided on the Beatles’ “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.” Dave played a bit of musical instruments (like musical chairs, only with instruments), having problems with the electric and the keyboard until he finally landed on the accordion. Yes folks, they sang “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” in four-part harmony with accordion. It was lovely.

And as usual, they stuck around afterward for some conversation and some pie and raved about the station and about the venue (which was a fantastic place – I plan to petition for Susan Werner or The Nields there sometime :). It was quite small, and it seemed as though they could probably have put more chairs in, though the waitstaff was having a hard time the way it was. Several times people wandered in and Mary had to politely shoo them out (well, if they weren’t on the list, anyway :). The food was wonderful and not expensive. All in all, it was a really great evening. I don’t know that I count it as a show, but I think it just may be my new favorite Früvous experience :).

From Alison:

Half As Much
Sad Girl
Independence Day
River Valley
My Poor Generation
Lazy Boy
The Ballad of Marion Fruvous
When She Talks
If Only You Knew
Johnny Saucepan
I Will Hold On
Splatter Splatter
Michigan Militia

Encore (not on list): You're Gonna Lose That Girl (??I was kind of tired by this point--This may not be the title.)

The Point is a fantastic venue. During the day, it's a teahouse, and at night they host concerts--lots of local artists, but XPN send a lot of folks their way too. Anyhow, when the place first opened, about a year and a half ago, I kept telling Ted (my fiance) what a great place it would be to see Fruvous. And he kept telling me that it was way too small (especially after the turnout at the King of Prussia "Frustock" show). Both of us were glad that he ultimately turned out to be wrong.

Thanks to XPN's World Cafe show, the 100 people who could dial fastest and most often got to see Fruvous as if they were in your own living room. (Well, maybe YOUR living room. The place is about 9 times the size of my apartment.) Having arrived early, Ted and I snagged a couch on stage left, from which we could prop our feet on the stage if we were so inclined (which we weren't. The potential to trip band and audience members was huge.)

For those unfamiliar with World Cafe, the show includes both talk and music, so XPN's Michaela Majoun served as interviewer--not that she got to talk much. She usually managed to get a sentence or two out before the guys took her question and twisted it beyond all recognition (or "fru-ed" it, maybe?) She hung in there, though, and actually elicited a few answers about influences, feelings about Thornhill, the Fleadgh (sp?) festival, and such.

A few in-between song bits:

Mike explained how the trees that were razed to build the neighborhoods of Thornhill eventually wound up as street names (Elm St., etc.). Jian broke in to explain that in his neighborhood, the streets were actually named after first-generation Star Trek characters: Sulu St., Ensign N Road. By the time they got to Murray, the streets were named after deadly diseases: Anthrax Avenue and so on.

In a discussion of whether the guys had ever experienced "U.S. envy" growing up, Jian revealed that Canadians define themselves as 1) non-gun-owners 2) universal health care possessors and 3) not Americans. (Because the audience got carried away cheering for the first two, they found themselves applauding for the not Americans thing too, and a number of people looked really confused when they figured out what they were applauding.)

Dave talking about his interest in/connection to folk/country music resulted in a twangy, Nashville-style version of "People are People" (Depeche Mode? May my eighth grade self strike me down if that's wrong.) Complete with yee-hahs.

Okay, now I'm getting dirty looks from the people who pay me to do things that don't involve Fruvous. So I'm going to go try to earn a living now, so I can buy more Fruvous stuff.

One more thing: I did hang around afterwards and do the CD signing thing. Though I am normally a perfectly articulate person, I apparently swallowed my tongue sometime between the last song and when the guys came out to chat. But they pretended not to notice, signed away, and every last one of them asked how to spell my name. (See, this is a big deal because I've worked in this office for two years, and I still get mail addressed to the last person to have this job, and mail with my name spelled completely wrong.) Maybe next time I'll be able to formulate an intelligent question--or at least get beyond the shy smile/idiot grin stage. Thankfully, my fiance [who is more or less able to overlook the schoolchild crush aspect of my Fruvous devotion--which is yet another reason why I'm marrying him :)] was less inarticulate, enabling me to nod in agreement a lot. Sigh--that's my guy.

In any case, I had a great time!

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 1999 page