Fans of Toronto's Moxy Früvous are called, naturally, Früheads.
It is a Wednesday night, and a large group of früheads has gathered on Internet Relay Chat. Conversation turns to the ‘frühead convention' of the previous weekend. Those who were there glorify the highlights to the amazed response of those who weren't.
At the gathering held Feb. 21 at the Clarion Essex Park Hotel on Jarvis Street in Toronto a hundred früheads from all over North America packed a small convention room under a banner reading "The Big Früvous Winter Chill."
They talked, sang songs – Moxy Früvous songs of course – and danced until the four band members appeared to sing rarely performed items from the band's collection.
The genesis for this convention was back in 1995, when the band noticed groups of fans following them from concert to concert. The April 1996 Früvous Quill newsletter says: "Früvous fans and friends have dusted off their respective scooters, jalopies, and Lincoln Town Cars to embark on mini road-trips following Moxy Früvous shows from city to city. A couple of these groups have already coined themselves 'Früheads'."
Moxy Früvous and their management introduced a 'frühead card' in the spring of 1996. By attending three concerts the fan received a Früvous button. Six concerts, a frühead T-shirt. Twelve, a videotape with the band's music videos. The top prize was achieved at 50 concerts, when the band would attend a session where the fan would receive an ‘ass brand' or tattoo.
"I remember I was sort of hesitant at first, a couple of years ago when there were some people starting to call themselves früheads and travelling," Jian Ghomeshi, the percussionist, said at the convention.
"But as we got to know you, [we saw you as] really interesting and smart people from different walks of life and different places, who really have something to contribute and who seem to like us for more reasons than just Murray's ass." (the bass player)
However even after attending this celebration – after which one lucky fan was the recipient of the ass brand – fans are still at a loss to pinpoint exactly what a frühead is.
"Simply put, [a frühead is] someone who follows Moxy Früvous around," says Chris O'Malley of Rochester, N.Y., now sitting lightly due to his ass brand. "It starts out as a love for the music, but then changes into a community of people with at least one common interest."
That sense of community among früheads is an important part of being a frühead, agrees Chris Traugott of Arlington, Va., "It amazes me how many of us get along in real life and have interests outside of Früvous that coincide."
"There is a connection between fans of Früvous . . . that I've not found in Phish or [Grateful] Dead or any other band circles," says Rob Johnson, from New York, N.Y. "That same connection extends not only between fans alone, but even between fans and the band themselves.
"I also think that the openness the band has with their fans plays a part in it as well. . . . it has . . . actually bonded us into a community."
Washington, D.C. resident Zard Snodgrass expands, saying "I think früheads hang together because we all have people at home who don't understand our devotion. The basic impossibility of explaining the phenomenon inclines us to hang together."
Most fans are unable to explain the trait to their families, friends and peers who are not fans.
"Most of my friends don't 'get it' even after going to a concert," says Traugott. "They almost all like the music and the experience but don't understand why I'd travel so far to see a band. What they do know is that the music and the concerts make me incredibly happy."
Fans won't accept the term groupie. Traugott associates 'groupie' with unintelligent devotion to a particular band, not the individualistic intrigue of Moxy Früvous' lyrics and music.
A similar opinion is offered by Fiona Gardiner of Guelph, Ont., "Früheads don't tend to scream every time [one of the band members] opens his mouth. Früheads are a unit whereas groupies tend to compete viciously among each other.
"I just feel connected to everyone, and I think it's the connection that makes me a frühead."