Well, this has got to be the farthest I've travelled thus far for a show. And, oh, what an experience it was!!
My brother Mike lives in NC, south of Raleigh. I decided to take some vacation, pay him a visit, and, oh my, what a coincedence, a Fruvous show is on at around the same time?!? What incredible irony.
Mike and I left his house at 1:30 Saturday afternoon, anticipating a four to five hour drive. Well, after a flat tire, getting lost several times, driving through mountain roads, and torrential rain we made it to the festival (I'm surprised we found the place) at 8:15, right when Moxy was scheduled to be on. Fortunately, due to the rain, things were running behind, so we made it in plenty of time.
The place looked, potentially, beautiful. It was dark and raining, which really put a damper on the scenery. Because of the rain, the main stage had moved to 'the gym', a building crammed with people, and with about 120% humidity. After walking around a little bit, we squeezed our way in and managed to make it to the stage just as some band was finishing up (I don't know who they were).
The place started to clear out a little bit, which gave us some room to move. Chris T, Chad, Andi, and Andy were right up near the stage and we all said our hellos. Turns out they had as much trouble finding the place as we had. They had gotten there around five or so, and apparently Moxy had gotten there early and had done a workshop to a crowd of about ten people. The workshop was not on the schedule, and things were pretty hectic for the guys.
Fruvous came on stage around ten. Oh yeah, Dave is bald!! (just thought I'd throw that in there) I wasn't sure what to expect from the crowd, considering 99% of them had never heard of Fruvous. The crowd went from staring at the stage with blank facial expressions to energetic and completely in to the music. One guy, obviously having a great time, came up to us asking, "How do you know all the words?". The six of us stood out like a sore thumb (that's not a bad thing!), singing along, and doing all the staple Fruvous moves. By the end, Fruvous got a very impressive round of applause and came back for a two song encore. As always, the boys wowed the crowd with fine Fruvous style.
After the set, Marcus was busy! Jian came back, and we talked to him for a bit, and then Mike and I decided we'd better head home, considering I had to drive back to NY the next day. We left at midnight, and got back to Mt. Olive by 5:30 in the morning. I proceeded to get up four hours later and drive for twelve hours back to Rochester.
Whew, what a weekend. The show made up for all the hassles before-hand and then some. Fruvous never ceases to amaze me. It was great to have some fellow fruheads to bond with and show my brother just how insane we really are... (that's also a good thing!)
From Kevin Kobos:
Yay! Moxy camy to NC for the first times in their careers, and I was thrilled when they came 10 minutes from my house, which is just a small town! That's luck!
The Black Mountain Music Festival is a gathering of hippies where they have a bunch of no name bluegrass bands playing. The only reason I went was because Moxy was there. I had to suffer through hours of rain, bluegrass, cold tems, and bad smelling hippies to see moxy. Boy did I feel out of place.
Finally, at 5:30 they did a little "silly song workshop" in a shack where only about 25 people showed up. Afterall, who in NC has heard of Moxy Früvous? I talked to the band, got their autographs, etc. Told them they should satisfy my obsession by coming to NC more often. They said they hope to, but they were probably just being nice. At the Silly Song Workshop they played Spiderman, I Love My Boss, The Greatest Man in America, and The Kids' Song. All of which i got a good recording of except Spiderman.
Then I had to wait another few hours until they performed their main show in the "gym" which was really just a barn with basketball goals in it. This thing was held at a campground. They opened with a slow version of I've Gotta Get a Message to You, then went into BJ. Wow, that song is great in concert. Mike used this cool voice distortion thing for the "now on the scene our wounded soul is looking quite gregarial" part. Wow, that was cool! Then they went into other songs, which I can't remember the order of. If anybody wants a definite set list, I'll be happy to go through the boot I made and find out what exactly they played. Oh yeah, If you want to trade, gimme an Email:)
They ended the concert with a wonderful Drinking Song, and afterwards I fought off the horde of people signing the mailing list to get to the merchandise dude where I promply bought Wood and The B Album. All in all, a wonderful first Moxy show. I hope to see them back here!
From Chris Traugott:
We hit the road for the Black Mountain Music Festival around 11, settling for McDonald's around noon. Lunch there was the turning point for what became a long, strange trip.
We passed Dollywood around four and shortly thereafter crossed into North Carolina. The sign posting changed remarkably in terms of level of detail and instruction, including one sign to drivers to remove their sunglasses in the tunnel, and another, along a stretch of single lane road with a concrete barrier on the left, advising drivers not to pass. My favorite was a detailed graphic depicting trucks making wide right turns around an exit ramp. The road twisted and turned through steep mountains, covered with deciduous trees just slightly touched with red and yellow. Clouds had settled on the peaks of the mountains and fog drifted in and out of view along the road. Before long it began to rain, and what started as a light drizzle became a fairly steady down pour right about the time we needed to find signs directing us the festival. The signs, homemade with poster board and markers had wilted in the dampness and were next to impossible to find. We made a few wrong turns, prompting a classic (unprintable!) comment from Andi, and finally found ourselves on a dark, winding road heading to what looked like no where. We eventually came upon a policeman, sitting by a campfire and roasting something (no, I am *not* kidding) and he directed us down the road to the "ticket booth." By this time "Dueling Banjos" was playing in the back of my head.
The guys at the ticket booth were fairly clueless as to what was where and who went on when, and didn't have any schedule of events, so Chad and I parked the car (an adventure in itself) while Andi and Andy tried to sort their tickets.
The festival was being held at a kids' summer camp, complete with the requisite beautiful lake, steep winding roads, and heavy forestation. If it weren't for the rain, it would have been a beautiful setting, but the damp and the incredible disorganization of the festival made for a muddy mess. Chad and I finally met up with Andi and Andy in the cafeteria, and huddling together for warmth waited for dinner and surveyed our surroundings. Two words…. Hippie heaven. People of all ages wearing all sorts of far out clothing, and clearly on their way to, coming from, or in the middle of a trip (and I don't mean AAA). "Surreal" became the word of the day.
We finally got someone to confirm that Fruvous was on around 8:00 in the gym; the rain had forced the festivities indoors. So we slogged up to the gym with Andi's parents, and made our way through the mass of people to find a space on the floor. The first band was a bluegrass group. Wonderful guitarist named Tony Rice; watching his fingers dancing on the fret board was a tremendous experience, but after the first three songs about mountains, broken hearts, horses and rain I was ready for just music with no vocals. While this band played the gym got more and more packed with people sitting on the floor; the air overwhelming with the thick scent of pot and patchouli. Into this miasma Fruvous waded, lugging instruments and equipment and trying to be as unobtrusive as possible under the circumstances. There seemed to be some trouble opening the stage door, so the guys were stuck in the middle of the crowd, each carrying at least three cases, unable to move forward because of the stage door, and without the room to turn around. Jian managed to get back stage and got some of the instruments back, but the larger pieces remained sitting in the middle of the crowd while Mike, Murray and Dave stood near the speakers waiting for the first band to finish. I didn't know whether to laugh at the absurdity of the festival "organization" or be indignant at the treatment of my favorite band; I guess I was a little of both. I wouldn't have blamed Fruvous if they had walked out.
When the first group finished, Cal and Marcus hustled to get Fruvous set up and check the sound levels. Chris O'Malley and his brother Mike showed up and we compared travel woes and gripes about the festival. In short order, (hats off to the professionalism of the fru-crew) everything was in place and the guys walked out on stage, smiling determinedly. They opened with a cappella Message, and the line "one more hour and my life will be through" seemed especially fitting under the circumstances. As in, "If we can just get through this set…"
To their credit, the guys put on one hell of a show. I guess at some point, you just decide that the circumstances are so ridiculous, so absurd, that you just kind of run with it. That seemed to be Mike's frame of mind, anyway, he really let loose during Boo Time and Spiderman. His attitude (or my perception of it, anyway) must have been infectious, because the guys really hit their stride after the first tune, fooling around on stage, teasing Dave for the steam rising off his head (did I mention that the place was freakin' cold?), and generally playing off one another's comments and the peculiar situation in which they found themselves. They joked a lot about being the "unknown band" and about this being their first trip ("and hopefully not our last" ;-) ) to North Carolina. Jian introduced Lazy Boy by talking about driving past the sign for "Dollywood" that day on the way to the festival (commenting "We thought you guys were kidding about Dollywood, but it really exists! Wow!").
The music eventually penetrated the fog in which most of the audience was operating, and before long those who weren't so far gone they couldn't move were grooving along to the music and even "getting" some of the jokes. (Sorry if these remarks seem snide, but I can't understand why anyone would get messed up before a concert and then just sit, staring into oblivion, during the show. I'm usually pretty tolerant of smoke, even of an illegal substance, but this was a bit much.) Needless to say, Ash Hash and Boo Time went over well, as did Greatest Man in America and Michigan Militia. The guys also played Organ Grinder, Johnny Saucep'n (interesting looks from some confused folk watching us hand jive ;-) ), BJ, River Valley, You Will Go to the Moon, Lazy Boy, King of Spain, GH&E (short version), and Love Potion. The encore was the Dancing Queen Medley and the Drinking Song.
The Drinking Song was especially comforting on this occasion, linking arms with other fruheads and sharing the warmth - literally - of a great show and great companionship. The guys really worked hard and delivered a strong show, and I think won a bunch of new fans. (Marcus was pretty busy after the set.) I felt foolishly proud of them for doing such a terrific job under pretty dismal circumstances. Afterwards we hung out for a bit, got cards stamped and laughed about how cold, damp and muddy we were. Before long we made our way back through the dark and the mud to the slippery "parking lot," narrowly missing being run over by a speeding golf cart without headlights (no, I am *not* kidding!). We got lost again on the way out, but eventually made it to the relative civilization of Shelby. I've never been so glad to see a Day's Inn in my life!
Thanks to the infectious optimism and good humor of Chad and Andi, the biting wit of an "O'Malley commentary" and a truly wonderful Fruvous show for saving what could have been a dreadful experience. Now it is one that I *will* look back upon and laugh about someday…. ;-)
From Andi Fitzer:
I've got two words for you describing my Asheville (actually Flat Rock) experience..."Dali-esque" and "Dolly-esque." The Black Mountain Music Festival was like a bizarre mix of Salvador Dali meets Dolly Parton...Surrealism meets Cracker Barrel...well you get my point.
We drove into town about 5:20 and actually found the camp by 5:45, which meant we only got lost twice! Trust me, we were among the lucky few. We pulled in and got directions to the ticket booth from this "small town" policeman (could have been a product of inbreeding) who was sitting in front of his car poking at his campfire in a garbage can! (and we thought the "yard-sale-style" festival signs were bad!) He did successfully get us to the ticket booth by, what can only be described as "pointing and grunting." - Has anyone seen Deliverance?
The ticket booth ended up being this dinky little tent that was manned by four or more clueless "hippie" attired people who had obviously never heard of words like, "customer service," "efficiency," or "organization." Finally, after freezing my ass off in the rain for 15 minutes, Andy and I ran to the building Moxy had their workshop in hoping to still catch them. - We did! They were wrapping up and eating some goodies out of a bus tub. I stood and visited with them a bit before heading off to the cafeteria for some dinner myself.
The dining hall proved to be a feast for the eyes - certainly not for the stomach! It was a virtual buffet of "dazed and confused granola-eaters" swimming in the scent of patchouli. It felt reminiscent of my bygone days seeing Greatful Dead shows! (Although fun, they are not something I truly cared to revisit). Time ticked away, and still no food, - apparently delays in the kitchen- and with the shabby way this place was run, I wasn't surprised. We all agreed, however, that once the "Fru-men" hit the stage it would all be worth it. Oh, the things we do for Moxy Fruvous! :-)
We all headed to the venue (a barn-like gym) around 7:45 and found it bursting at the seems with people! We managed to squeeze (literally) our way to the front, right near the stage. There was an acoustic bluegrass trio playing - I missed the name- that seemed to be quite popular with the crowd, but then again, maybe their glazed-eyed grins weren't from the music. ;-) After about 15 minutes or so, I started to get antsy for Moxy to begin. One can only stand songs about driving to Mexico, being dumped, living free, and mountains for so long! Seriously, they were actually pretty good.
In the middle of their set, Chris T. saw Jian come out from backstage with a look of frustration on his face, and moments later we see the rest of the band tromping (ever so quietly) through the throngs of bodies with their equipment in hand. They discovered, however, that the backstage door wouldn't open wide enough to fit most of their equipment through! What a nightmare! Chris T. and I were both laughing and complaining at the ludicrous situation our favorite band had found themselves in. -"How dare they treat Moxy Fruvous like that!" The guys seemed to be taking it all in stride and actually finding the humor in it as well. At that point, what else could they do but say, "F*** IT!" :-) I doubt anyone would have blamed them if they would have walked out at that point!
As the guys set up, we encountered Chris O'Malley with his brother Mike. That lifted everyone's spirits, (the more fruheads the better) and I was glad to finally meet the man I'd heard so much about. We all stood around discussing our traveling stories, and trying to predict how the show would go. All things considered, we figured it was anyone's guess, but the feeling overall was good. - Mike and Murray seemed "frisky" (which is always a good sign), and Cal was double checking all of the equipment to make sure it would be close to perfect for the band (he's good like that).
They started around 10:00 and played over 1 1/2 hours (I think), and they were FANTASTIC!! I mean, I expected them to be good, when aren't they, but they were really good even in bad conditions! Kudo's to Fruvous for their undaunted professionalism, I was very impressed. They started out with acappella Message and followed fairly close to their "regular" set list. They did throw in, for our listening pleasure, Ash Hash, which this particular crowd really grooved to, and Organ Grinder, which I had never heard live before. They ended their encore with the traditional Drinking Song, at which point, all of us joined arm-in-arm to sing along. This undoubtedly drew a bit of attention from the "Fru-virgin" crowd, who actually seemed quite fascinated with us the entire evening. I guess we didn't completely fit in - we were all fairly clean, wide-eyed (as opposed to glazed-over-blood-shot-half-closed-eyed! :-)) and dreadlocks free; but, by the end of the evening we had been brought together, bonded, if you will, by Moxy Fruvous!
After the show, we made our way towards Marcus for our stamps, but found him to be quite busy. While we waited for the crowd to thin out, we stood around (yes, again) talking about the amazing show we had just witnessed, and watched my mother - Gloria - "help" Marcus answer questions and sell CD's! (there are times in a persons life when spontaneous appearances of black holes would come in very handy - that was one of those moments for me!) I could see my therapy bills mounting! :-) Marcus didn't seem to mind - what a sport!
I said my good-byes to the band and let them know I'd see them in Bloomington - 4 weeks away! :-( I then bid my fellow fruvous fans, now friends, farewell. As I walked toward my campsite (yes, l actually had to stay over night in this place, freezing in my wet tent!) I wished that I was driving back with my friends to a warm, dry hotel! But, what an adventure I had!
All in all, my "fruhead" weekend was a blast! Moxy Fruvous rocked, and
being there with my new friends made it all the better. Even with all of
the strange "surrealism" of the weekend, I would do it again in a heart
beat! See you guys in Bloomington!
Some other tidbits from the performance include: