Saturday, July 19, 2003

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

I'm in love with "Stacy's Mom." The new Fountains of Wayne song opens with sharp exclamation points of sound, practically lifted from the Cars' "Just What I Needed." The new wave nod was appropriate given that the song, written from a high school boy's point of view, harked back to an era when "Stacy" was a popular name among teenage girls. And it could be about a subplot in Valley Girl, although in the movie, it was Suzi, not Stacey, whose mom was an object of adoration.

"Stacy's Mom" is the highlight of the new FOW album Welcome Interstate Managers, but it was just one of a myriad of perfect pop songs in their show at the Metro. Lead guitarist Jody Porter gives the songs just enough muscle to prevent pop from being a dirty word, merely kids' stuff. (As for my comments in my preview about FOW being unlike Lollapalooza white guy bands in that they aren't using their guitars to assert their manhood, Porter was approaching that line, which could be an issue for a guy named Jody. But he was more than counterbalanced by lead singer Chris Collingswood, who looks like he got beat up a lot in high school.) Their songs had the audience enthralled because they were meant for singing along, with lots of catchy choruses and harmonies.

For "Radiation Vibe," they went off onto a bunch of musical tangents, including the Cars (and I thank them for validating my continued love of their skinny tied tunes) and ZZ Top. When they branched to Boston's "More Than a Feeling" and much of the audience started singing the lyrics, Collingswood chastised them as losers for knowing the lyrics by heart.

As an epilogue to my comments on Ben Lee and Evan Dando, apparently Lee is doing his best to save Dando from obscurity. He played a song he wrote that appears on Dando's latest album. Lee was a giddily earnest performer, and his covers ranged from Cheap Trick to Smiths.

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