Mike Doughty @ The Bootleg

For only my second concert this year (mostly thanks to my boycott Ticketmaster) I took in Mike Doughty at the Bootleg (oddly enough, my last show was at the Bootleg, and contrary to what you might think, I am not on their mailing list). This time I took in the show with the Wife after some grilled cheese and micro brew.

Most of my musical icons are either dead or too big to ever be seen in a small venue like this. I've been listening to M. Doughty for fifteen years or so, since he was the frontman for the pre-hipster NY band Soul Coughing. While I got hooked on that bands off beat melodies and infectious hooks, it was Doughty's word play that always stuck with with. Maybe Super Bon Bon was a radio hit, but it was far from their greatest song, and it was often the slower, poetic songs like Soft Serve that really stuck with me.

The crowd at the Friday night show seemed to be indicative of where he is now in his career. It was a much older crowd, and definitely a lot of dudes. Seems probably a lot of guys like me who've been a fan for a while, maturing along with him. The energy was good, as Mike sat alone on the stage with his guitar. Shortly after 10 pm he started, no opener and just played. Just felt like a bunch of people hanging out, listing to an old friend jam, almost as if we were hanging out in the living room at an adult house party and he was a guest, but decided he would play some songs after some goading by the hosts. He didn't bring his guitar, because he didn't anticipate playing, but he graciously played on the hosts son's guitar (they're wealthy, so he has good instruments).

Anyway, he's a very congenial guy, a lot of charisma and just funny. I had previously seen him during his Question Jar tour, where he would answer audience questions submitted to him in a jar. He was backed by a band, including stand up bassist Scaps (who is currently driving a cab in NYC to fulfill a lifelong dream. His next dream? To become a notary public). This time, he stripped it all down and just played his guitar, briefly engaging the audience between songs, if at all. As he took a moment to tune his guitar, he was surprised by his speed, and apologized for not having time for more japes and axioms.

However, that opportunity came later on. I had a great view, five people deep with a direct line of vision to Doughty and his guitar. During Tremendous Brunettes, a string broke right as he was getting to the next verse. He had a spare at hand, and as he replaced and tuned it, he answered questions (that's how we learned about Scraps) and shared his experience riding the train out to Los Angeles. As soon as he was done, he picked up right where he left off in the song.

All in all, a good evening for all the simple pleasures. Grilled cheese, beer and a man playing guitar. I'll leave you with a video of him playing one of my favorite songs that he performed on Friday (this video is not from Friday, but pretty indicative of how it was).

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