Tuesday, Nov. 8
Despite his sizable talents, Mike Doughty remains an under-discovered gem, which isn't a>"/>
Tuesday, Nov. 8 Neumos
Mike Doughty and His Band Fantastic
Tuesday, Nov. 8
Despite his sizable talents, Mike Doughty remains an under-discovered gem, which isn't a bad thing, especially if you're a Mike Doughty fan, like the several hundred that filed into Neumos Tuesday night. Part of what makes Doughty such a compelling underground force is the intimate connection he has with his fans, something that would be made exponentially more complicated if he were, say, Dave Matthews, whose label he recently split from to release his latest album Yes and Also Yes, a move he made in part because he wanted more control of his business (read: fewer barriers between him and his fanbase). He is also a self-professed internet addict, constantly blogging and endlessly Tweeting, the latter being the ultimate mechanism for fan interaction. Call him a thoroughly modern troubadour.
Doughty rose to fame as the brains and lungs of '90s alt-rockers Soul Coughing, and though there are traces of that band's syncopated rhythms and beat poetry in his solo work, he is a more versatile songwriter ten years later, deftly juggling multiple styles, from storytelling folk to barn-burning rave-ups, all while retaining sizable pop hooks. He's also the kind of artist who likes to keep busy, having released an EP and an LP this year, as well as having penned a salacious memoir, The Book of Drugs, which will be out in January.
Though he sometimes tours with a more folk-leaning band, his latest tour features a four-piece group dubbed His Band Fantastic--and they were. The band played songs from his ten years of solo material, including fan favorites like "27 Jennifers" and "Busting Up a Starbucks," as well as newer songs like "Into the Un," which was written for the Twilight film but quickly rejected. What Doughty didn't play, however, was anything from his Soul Coughing days. "I am an engine of disappointment," he offered to the not-in-the-know fans who hollered requests from his former band. "You obviously did not read my Wikipedia entry," he teased. "You maybe shouldn't have bought a ticket."
A similar playful banter continued throughout the show, with the band providing deep grooves over which Doughty would wax philosophic, weighing in on topics from his mom growing up on Queen Anne Hill in the '50s to digital music theft, which he advocates, especially with his own records. Hearing them, he said, is more important than buying them.
This same camaraderie was in place with his band, and he thanked each member several times during the set, as well as the sound guy, by name, a gracious gesture that all too often goes overlooked. Beyond his songs, Doughty's biggest live gift is his ability to make you feel like your show is special, that Seattle matters, that the version of "Tremendous Brunettes" he played last night was the best of the tour. In the spirit of this, he records each show and makes them available to showgoers for purchase afterwards, a more personal souvenir than a T-shirt. All of this speaks to the careful consideration he has for his fans, an approach more bands should adopt. Perhaps he could teach a class back in Brooklyn, where he lives, where surely there is a gaggle of guitar-wielding, glasses-wearing hopefuls paying too much attention to themselves and not enough to the people that will ultimately finance their art. This, it seems, is an art unto itself.
FYI: After twice catching a women in the front row texting furiously, Doughty commandeered her phone for the remainder of the song, at which point he began taking pictures. "Oh no," he said as he snapped away, "Your battery is running low!"