Just back from a weekend of music and my lovely best friend Christie, who only recently returned from her school year in Los Angeles. We arrived on Randall's Island around 3:00 after filling in the blanks in the website's vague directions and wandered for a while, hanging around the Main and Irish Village stages briefly. Christie spotted a bodhran player she used to jam with at George's Fifth Street Cafe in Philly who happened to be the owner of a studio where her little jam group recorded a CD but never got the mixing done. She mused about where the masters were, but decided he wouldn't remember who she was, and decided not to approach him. Eventually we planted ourselves by the railing at the Village Voice Stage for the Candy Butchers, who looked suspiciously like a ska band - suits and ties, two guys with horns, etc. Turned out they weren't. During their set (not bad - have to admire a band whose members wear suits when it's 95 degrees out), I noticed Tobey walk out from backstage. He waved at me, and Christie and I abandoned the Candy Butchers to wander over to where he was standing with Doug Levy and some others I didn't recognize (in fact, I still don't think Doug knows who I am :), so I could introduce Christie. I got my card stamped and we talked a bit about the trip up to New York, the accommodations in Maryland (why on earth were they staying in Glen Burnie :) ?), Tobey's new shorts (purchased in Glen Burnie), and the woman we witnessed making a painful journey over a chain link fence to retrieve a wayward football. The aforementioned bodhran player walked by and I nudged Christie. She related the recording story to Tobey and he encouraged her to weasel some info out of the Celtic percussionist. They went on to discuss hammered dulcimers (Christie's primary instrument) and Toronto area musical oddities (instruments and people alike). Eventually Christie and I replanted ourselves by the railing and remained there through Too Cynical to Cry (*very* good), an afro-celt ensemble known as Kila (excellent), Luka Bloom and Martin Sexton. Luka Bloom fans *packed* the tent and were then joined by Martin Sexton fans who packed it further. Both sets were good; Luka had a beautiful voice, but I found his set pretty ho-hum. After Luka's set, Christie and I conversed with an older gentleman for a while about various folk artists. When he found out we were primarily there for Früvous, he got a little elitist talking about how he had known them "back in the day" when all they sang about was Canadian politics and how they really weren't able to cross over into the US until they started talking about world politics. "Well, they're about more than just politics . . ." I said. "Oh, I know," he said. *shrug* Anyhoo, Tobey had expressed to me in Baltimore that he was a little concerned about the set. His exact quote was, "The guys are going to be tired. The guys are going to be crazy. They're closing the festival, so everyone's going to be drunk." We had joked earlier in the night about how Hootie and the Blowfish would be finishing up just as Früvous was going on and maybe they'd get some "Hootie Run-off." Well, as Christie and I took a stretch before the guys came on, we turned around and noticed that the tent had pretty much emptied after Martin's set due primarily (we conjectured) to the scheduling of Elvis Costello at the same time as the guys. There were probably about 60 people left, and it bummed us out quite a bit. We figured if nothing else, it would at least cut down on the drunk heckling. Eventually, a DJ from WFUV came out and asked "Who's a Frühead?" Immediately a man in the front row began bellowing and thrusting his fist into the air. Uh oh. The guys came on stage looking well: Dave looking very "yuppie at the beach" in khakis, grey long-sleeve t-shirt, Birks, and sunglasses (at 10:00 at night :), Mike in a bowling shirt (or perhaps a gas station attendant shirt), Jian in his blue and orange "Stop" ringer and yellow geek glasses, and Murray in the red button down and sporting a candy necklace :).
According to Mike's setlist:
1/2 Horse Moon Hold [note: appears to have been added late--it's kinda squished in] Minnie Michy Sauce King Grn Pot [Love Potion notes] india baltimore jersey shore
After "Half as Much," Mike commented that "It has been said that New York is like a sinking ship and the harbor is on fire. You never know what's going to happen. Here's a song called 'Horseshoes.'" Great rendition. No keyboard, but that's the way I originally heard it, so that's just fine with me :). Between song banter was fairly non-existent, but that's to be expected at festivals. Even the intros were fairly abbreviated. Jian's welcome went something like "Welcome misled New Yorkers. First of all, f*** you. Secondly, you're great!" Perhaps the funniest bit of the evening was just before "Michy" when Jian said "We wrote a song about our friends in Michigan. [wild applause]. It's called 'Friends in Ann Arbor.' Here it is." They played a few bars of a jaunty tune about . . . friends in Ann Arbor. The lesbian hooker line was included in "Minnie" and was screamed out from the audience by Deb and I. Mike grinned (or was it growled? :) at me. Jian altered his postscript to say, "Lyrics written 30 minutes before the show - except for the last one." The highlight of the evening, however, was between "Minnie" and "Michy" (at least that's where roB! and i *think* it was :) when they started talking about how it was so amazing to be playing at the same time as their collective favorite artist. "We cover like seven of his songs," said Murray. "It's not on the setlist, but we're gonna do it anyway. . ." and with that they played *deep breath* *"Poor Napoleon"*. *sigh*. I've been wanting to hear this since . . . well, since forever - and especially since Elvis didn't do it at his Tower show on Friday (though he did do "Watching the Detectives," "Pump it Up," "Indoor Fireworks," and about a million more of my favorite songs of his:). They also dedicated it to Tobey, which was wonderful in itself. Also, the tent began to fill up some more. A bizzare occurance I have noticed happening more and more is the tendency of young female audience members to scream bloody murder at "not the Beatles." Last night the shrieking prompted a "Jesus Christ!" from Dave and a "You've killed someone with your words!" from Murray. Ah well. At the end of "Potion" Mike physically ripped strings from his guitar and Dave abused his as well. Needless to say, the closing jam rocked :). Jian thanked the people who had heard the band in passing and had wandered over to check them out.
They encored with "Drinking Song." What a great moment - listening to
that song with my best friend. Life doesn't get much better :). Tobey
handed me Jian's and Mike's setlists as he began to clear the stage. I
gave Jian's to Deb, who had run over to show me her wonderful writing
grades (congrats Deb!). Altogether, it was not as bad as Tobey had alluded
:). There was less drunk heckling than at the Baltimore or Providence or
Utica shows. It was dirty (Christie and I could attest to that) and we had
to dodge passed-out drunks on the way out of the parking area, but
uneventful otherwise. Well, if you don't count the fact that the ramp to
the George Washington Bridge was closed, which forced us to sit in 1.5
hours of traffic. We came rather close to just getting on 87 north and
taking our chances :). We pulled into the Purnell School in Pottersville
(where Christie's sister is a teacher-in-residence) around 3 AM, washed
our filthy feet, and rested our Frü-weary heads and backs. Was it Dante
who said "Frü good . . . me sleep now" ? So true . . . :). Until Ft.
Some other tidbits from the performance include: