Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Concert Recommendation: Fountains of Wayne with Ben Lee, Thursday, July 17, Metro

The return of the Lollapalooza tour has generated little interest. According the Tribune, the Chicago-area stop only half-filled the Tweeter Center. While this could be chalked up to what a horrible venue the Tweeter Center is, with poorly-planned logistics and outrageously priced refreshments, it could be that the Gen X public has grown tired of the Lollapalooza formula. Even after a six-year gap, it's exactly the same: a token black act, a token female act, and a bunch of macho white guys trying to prove their manhood by waving their guitars around like dicks. It's not like there aren't alternatives to hard rock within the alternative genre, but Perry Farrell never bothered to seek out anything like jazz absurdists Soul Coughing, proudly nerdy They Might Be Giants or the totally fey Belle & Sebastian.

Case in point for a band comfortable enough with their masculinity that they can just get on with the business of writing damn catchy songs: Fountains of Wayne. They are clearly a pop band, not a rock band, because it's all about the hooks. Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger write precise songs of being lovelorn and outcast in suburbia. And they don't milk the affectations like Weezer. They're coming to the Metro in support of their new album Welcome Interstate Managers.

Opening up is Ben Lee, who first made a name for himself in 1993 with his former band Noise Addict with the song "Wish I Was Him," expressing his (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) jealousy of Evan Dando. At the time, Dando was the premiere alt-rock pin-up boy, although he was overrated as both a musician and pin-up. Dando had a public off-and-on relationship with the equally overrated but even more irritating Juliana Hatfield, who also had a guest appearance on My So-Called Life. Lee has been involved with MSCL star Claire Danes for years, while Dando and Hatfield are so out of fashion that the press no longer care about their love lives. Between Lee's cute, talented girlfriend and the support slot for Fountains of Wayne, maybe it's time for Dando to pen a new version of "Wish I Was Him" about the song's original writer.

Fountains of Wayne and Ben Lee play the  Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago, on Thursday, July 17 at 9 p.m.

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