Despite my abject snobbery about music, musicians and the assorted miscellany surrounding same, one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all time is Barenaked Ladies. Yes, the guys who did "One Week" and, yes, I'm pretty much sick of that song too. For the record, I was into them before
that particular song hit the airwaves (and, admit it, it's a good song, despite the fact that it got overplayed), having bought all their early, Canadian-produced albums at least a year prior. I've been a fan for about 10 years now and I've seen them in concert 5 times; the most that I've seen any band with the exception of Old 97's, but they don't count since they're from my hometown and hometown bands will always win that particular race.
Anyway, I say all this, risking the eye-rolls and sarcastic comments that usually come with this admission, because we went to see them in concert last night. But this is not a post about them. My professing my love of BNL is merely the set-up; an explanation as to why I was at Radio City Music Hall last night, watching the worst opening act of all time.
Now, no one expects opening acts to be any good. Oh sure, occasionally you'll see The Strokes open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (or something) but usually it's a random, mediocre band that's either friends with the top-billed act or that have been foisted upon the tour by the record label. Whatever. It's a part of the concert-going experience and I've learned to live with it. However, I, nor my girlfriend, nor anyone at Radio City Music Hall deserved... ugh, I can't even say the name without shuddering... The Mike Doughty Band. Now, those of you who are a veritable font of obscure music knowledge will probably recognize the name Mike Doughty as the ex-frontman for Soul Coughing, a mid-90's band that, if you'll remember, also sucked a tremendous amount of ass (listen to their "hit" song "Circles" again if you doubt me). Anyway, he's back, off heroin, and even less entertaining than before.
Instead of the hip-hopish, spoken-wordy crap that Soul Coughing foisted on the masses, Mike Doughty has gone the other route; the singer/songwriter/douchebag route. What's interesting (I'm using that term extrordinarily
loosely) is that he some how has managed to combine everything that's bad with rock and roll into one band. Let's go down the list:
1. Unwarranted Bravado - Mike Doughty is the shit, so thinks Mike Doughty. He's got that chummy, too-loud, anti-humble attitude that only the minorest of musicians seem to posses. Clearly thrilled with himself, he had the unmitigated gall to attempt extended, jokey stage-patter about his "rock and roll tunes" and how he really "bringin' it tonight." Um, ew. You sound like somebody's dad listening to KROQ. Stop it.
2. White-Man Jazz Scating - I don't know if that's exactly what he was doing, but there were a couple of points where he went off on poly-syllable tangents that were remnicisent of Ella Fitzgerald, but thuddingly embarrassing.
3. Samples - There was a whole song that consisted of the band playing their various instruments while Doughty pushed buttons on a sample machine, producing such deep clips as "Too much bacon for the pan to handle," and "Woooo!" And while he did this, he had a spotlight
on him. As if that warrants a spotlight. It does, however, warrant a beating.
4. Mike Doughty Looks Like Phil Collins With Downs Syndrome - Okay, that's not technically his fault, but it's still true. I blame the heroin.
5. Guitar Player Stance - He kept doing that thing that only hardcore metal guys can get away with where he'd stand all hunched over, his legs apart like he was bracing himself on a rocky boat, his eyes intently focused on the guitar. This works if you're producing bone crunching black riffs (it helps, too, if you're a 400 pound Norwegian, but I digress), but is merely silly when you're a doughy Irishman who's, at best, doing a bad, Xerox-of-another-Xerox, imitation of the Dave Matthews Band. Having jam band aspirations is vile enough, but then posturing like you're in Darkthrone while you limply noodle on your acoustic guitar is so hateable it's a miracle he didn't burst into flames.
Ugh, there's more but I'm officially sick of talking about this twat. And, anyway, the show ended up being great because Barenaked Ladies are physically incapable of putting on a bad concert. They are, and always will be, a live band and anyone who doubts it should go see them before passing down judgment.
Mike Doughty, you should take notes. Or just go to hell. Either one.