"It seemed that people were forgetting that Fruvous hadnt come to us this time, the majority of us had traveled all the way out here for them. Seeing a band in their home city is different. When they leave, they arent going back to the van or the hotel; they are returning to their homes, families, and lives outside of the clubs. Seeing the guys play in Toronto almost made me feel like I was barging in on something that I wasnt quite supposed to see."
My friends thought I was crazy. My parents thought I was crazy. Hell, I questioned my sanity too. But in the end, I was skipping two days of school and spending eleven hours in the car with a stranger to get from home (Maryland) all the way to Canada.
Why? Because I love Moxy Fruvous.
Okay, I admit it. Im probably a little overboard. I constantly have an easily accessible Fruvous album on hand because people incessantly ask, Moxy who?
I can tell you which member (or lad, as they are often called) is singing at any given point on just about any CD. I can tell you what instrument they play, and if were at a show, what song they are about to play based on their deviation from that instrument. For instance, if Murray puts down his bass for the acoustic guitar, were looking at Pisco Bandito, the tale of a bandit fish.
If you really care, you can even ask me about how the band got started years ago in Thornhill, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Well, you do know what busking is, dont you...?
So maybe this is overboard. Its okay if you think Im a nut. I thought so too. Until I got to FruCon 99.
FruCon, short for the Moxy Fruvous FruHead Convention, was started last year by various fans of Fruvous who thought it would be cool to get together and meet. The tradition continued this year, at the Ramada Hotel in Fruvous home turf of Toronto.
As an added bonus, the band was wrapping up their latest tour with three nights in Toronto that very weekend. What more could a devout FruHead ask for?
The idea of such a weekend, meeting people who share your love for a band, people you have even spent hours talking to on #moxyfruvous (the Undernet IRC channel), and getting to see three shows as well, should have been my idea of Fruvous fan heaven. But it wasnt.
Maybe it was an off-weekend for me. Maybe I just didnt connect to the other fans. But I think I was being anti-social for a reason, I just cant put my finger on it.
I adore Fruvous is my own way. Its more of a private appreciation, I guess. Listening to The Drinking Song reminds me of a good friend of mine who I no longer speak to, who is probably drinking himself to death in a bar somewhere. The line I do believe, I cant go on this way... from the (utterly amazing) new song Independence Day, makes my stomach turn to ice because it echoes thoughts I have every single day.
But these are personal reasons, and even if I did feel that I could talk about these things with other fans, I would be reluctant to.
Im not sure how well I connect to the majority of people I met at FruCon. While we all shared a common love for the band, our interests and motives for being there seemed different, and I felt as if I ought to remain the quiet one in a sea of outgoing fans. Im fairly introverted, and I find it hard to work myself up to the quite vocal and easily noticeable enthusiasm of some of the other fans.
I spent a great deal of the weekend wondering if I even deserved to call myself a fan. In the end, I realized its simply a difference in interests. I dont have much interest in learning the sign-language to Horseshoes or the infamous Johnny Saucepn hand-jive. While it was cool to watch a few music videos I had never seen, I was a little confused about the concept of putting together a puzzle of Mike Fords head. The reservations I have for things like that though, shouldnt make me any better or worse then anyone else I met.
I got it into my head to ask Chris OMalley about his views on Fruvous fans, as he seems to be their proverbial leader (outside of the band, that is) and the man behind Fruvous Dot Com, the treasure trove of all things Fruvous.
It's such a great network of friends. I love going to shows so I can catch up with all these people in my 'Fruvous-family', so to speak. I only worry about people getting so wrapped up in this that they make it their whole life.
Ironically enough, Jian addressed the issue briefly by commenting on how we all must know this is just a little crazy. His audience laughed, clearly amused, but I couldnt help but wonder if everyone did realize just how crazy this seemed.
I guess that helped peg the uneasiness I felt; I was a little afraid of the few people I met who seemed to be making this their whole life, and the people who werent quite sure of when to quit.
Its easy to tell when, after a show, the band just wants to slink off into the night. It almost seemed that people were forgetting that Fruvous hadnt come to us this time, the majority of us had traveled all the way out here for them. Seeing a band in their home city is different. When they leave, they arent going back to the van or the hotel; they are returning to their homes, families, and lives outside of the clubs.
And so, it made everything a little different for me. Seeing the guys play in Toronto almost made me feel like I was barging in on something that I wasnt quite supposed to see.
I overheard Cal (Fruvous house mixer and sound man) explaining to one woman (obviously distraught) why Mike beat a hasty retreat from the shows at Lees
all weekend. He simply wanted to go home with his wife.
As fans, do we forget that these guys have lives outside of us? Do we forget that they get to go home at night and lead lives as individual people, not just members of somebodys favorite band?
Of course, the kind of pressure they find themselves under is typical for any group who puts themselves in the spotlight. Chris summed it up by commenting:
Since Fruvous goes so much out of their way to do autographs, etc, when they don't, fans do get a little miffed. I don't think it's right either, personally, that people get so upset...There's a point where you have to understand yourself and know what's reasonable and what's not.
I love the fact that after shows the guys come out to chat with the fans, to sign autographs and pose for countless pictures. It shows how dedicated they are to continuing the communal spirit of the Moxy Fruvous scene. But at times Im sure Ive seen that look in their eyes, the one that pleads Just let me go home. and I wonder if the inch theyve given their fans will turn into a mile they never meant to spare.
On this point, Chris disagrees; I think [Fruvous is] in complete control with how 'crazy' this relationship with their fans is. I think they see 90% of their hardcore fans as an asset, not a liability.
He continues, I try to take most things in stride. Although I'm a HUGE fan, I don't go to certain extremes.
The majority of FruHeads, while showing an amzing amount of loyalty to the band, manage to keep themselves from going overboard. This, of course, is relative. What seems overboard to me, is probably quite normal to the average FruHead, which Im sure is where a great deal of my confusion stemmed from this weekend.
In the end, Im sure Fruvous appreciates the devotion their fans have for them, and the majority of the fans realize which lines are appropriate to cross and which are not. I respect Moxy Fruvous immensely, not only for their musical talent, but for the level of intelligence they bring to their shows, and the way in which theyve managed to fuel the fire for such a unique community. As a result, I sincerely hope that the unparalleled closeness this band allows itself to have with its fans is always present and is never compromised. I believe its a delicate balance to strike, and Fruvous does it extremely well.