Of the whole line-up, the artist I was most unsure about was Josh Rouse. I used to LOVE him. From his debut, the gorgeous but slightly uneven Dressed up like Nebraska, to his fourth record, the masterpiece 1972, every record was better than the last. The next two were disappointing, boring soft rock, and the love affair was over and I lost track of him. In fact I didn’t even know he was on Yep Roc now. Even so, I’d been playing songs from 1972 the night before, despite the fact that I was unlikely to hear any of them. Still, that didn’t keep the title track from getting stuck in my head all day. So I couldn’t have been more surprised when he came out, sat down, and announced he was going to play something really old. I only had a moment to think “there’s no way it is going to be that old,” before he sang the opening line “She was feeling 1972, grooving to a Carol King tune.” Just like that I was in love all over again.
He didn’t go back any further than that, but he did play “Don’t Let Go of our Love” from the same record. And admittedly I really enjoyed the rest of his set. I left that night determined to fill in those holes in my Josh Rouse collection (I haven’t stopped listening to 2011’s Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations since). It’s too bad he lives in Valencia, Spain now, which is a long, long way from Nebraska, not to mention the basement.
The most intriguing band in the lineup was Mayflies USA. I was in love with their record Walking in a Straight Line a decade ago. I saw them once, opening for Tommy Keene at the Cactus Club, for what I remember being the loudest show I’d ever attended. And then they disappeared. Turns out it wasn’t just my imagination, they’d broken up shortly after that record. As one of the first bands on Yep Roc, and apparently one of the founders’ favorite bands, they reunited for this show. Most of the songs were from their Yep Roc debut 1999’s Summertown, but they finished the set with the title track to Walking. They sounded good, if maybe just a little, forgivably, rusty.
Apparently I just don’t get Sloan. I want to, but for some reason seeing them live doesn’t generate the kind of excitement for me that it does for their fans. I suspect they may be a band I’d like better if I knew the songs. Maybe I’ll try that before I see them next.
It was a little tempting to leave after they were done, but despite the fact that I had no interest in seeing Liam Finn, I did want to stick around for Fountains of Wayne. Their show at the High Noon earlier this year was surprisingly entertaining despite the fact that Chris Collingsworth seems to be at best ambivalent toward the audience and half the band looks like they think they are in Spinal Tap. That leaves the engaging and earnest Adam Schlesinger as the main reason to see them. They played the hits and it was fun, end of night two.
Cheyenne Marie Mize
Fountains of Wayne