Doughty returns to Boulder on the tail of a freshly released
album that is filled with delightful re-imaginings of songs from his
former band, Soul Coughing. The crowd that filled the Boulder
Theater was varied and fairly rabid. Young fans who certainly never
heard Soul Coughing first hand had come out to groove away to some
of the coolest songs they had certainly ever laid ears on. Older folks
came out to see Doughty as they'd known him for decades now, or maybe
just to see how he was going to turn these songs into his own. As
for the recently released Circles Super Bon Bon etc. LP I will
simply say that I always find it very fascinating what songs a musician
might pick from their very own catalog to cover. I was looking forward
to hearing Doughty play some songs that I was pretty sure were going
to be some of my favorite Soul Coughing tunes.
Doughty, playing guitar, was joined on stage by Catherine Popper
on upright bass and old buddy, former tourmate, Pete Wilhoit
on drums. Time was not wasted, as the band came on stage and launched
into a fantastic version of Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago.
What a way to start a show! Tonight's version of this classic tune
was filled with smooth grooves and a more laid back, less spastic,
feeling than the previous version. Was this what the crowd was in
for? A more mature, almost reserved, take on some classic tunes? Sugar
Free Jazz was next and the band transported it from its jazzier,
lower tempo setting into a bit quicker trip-hop style vibe. The first
two songs of the set from Ruby Vroom! But then everything changed.
Doughty abandoned the guitar for a sampler, making rhythmic noise
and triggering a weird variety of samples as the band blasted through
a rippingly weird version of Bus To Beelzebub, complete
with an even more sped up and chopped version of the cartoon work
theme. Now this is approaching more the Soul Coughing vibe, but even
surpassing the artiness of that era for a more methodic and varied
sound. The Idiot Kings was played with much more groove
than the original, sounding much more like modern Doughty material,
but with the spirit and experimentalism of Soul Coughing; a cool beat,
laid back, but filled with mighty power!
On Unmarked Helicopter, Catherine moved to playing
a Moog synth bass, creating a cool, throbbing underpinning for a
song that was much more exciting now than it was two decades ago.
On Lazy Bones, Doughty moves to a small pocket synth
and sets up a cool throbbing, rhythmic arpeggiated line while Pete
disappears from stage and Catherine bows her bass, creating a low,
slow undercurrent to anchor the madness that Doughty creates. The
song sounds more like an old Atari game being sung over than anything
else; and it works perfectly. Songwriter's Blues finds
Doughty alone on stage, when he puts on a record, starts a loop,
and launches into a spirited reading of the brilliant, beautiful
poetry that makes this song stand out above many of his other tunes.
The mad poet spits out with venom, Los Angeles is listening!
Then, a cool, sampled vocal part, that sounds like an old soul singer,
starts and then glitches and sparks itself alive in weird ways and
Doughty launches into a great reading of Uh Zoom Zip
that ends up sounding much like a drum'n'bass version, but vocals
carrying the bass part.
Doughty puts on another record, walks away from the technology,
and grabs an acoustic guitar. He starts into the cool poetry of
Mr. Bitterness pretty much exactly as it appears on
the new record, slowly building from a throbbing kick drum and handclap
to a mashup of drums and somewhat aggressive acoustic guitar. The
band rejoins Doughty on stage and get right down to a very tasty
version of Soft Serve. This version of the tune has
a light, summery feel to it that transcends the SC version by leaps
and bounds. On How Many Cans? Doughty is back to triggering
all kinds of crazy samples while the rhythm section goes on and
on and on, creating a sort of aural ping-pong game. Catherine moves
back to the synth for a cool version of Monster Man,
as Pete keeps the drums going solid and tight, moving things along
seamlessly as everything else seems to fall apart and break down,
before tying itself back up nicely. A nice, slow drum and bass groove
kicks in next as the band gets into True Dreams of Wichita.
Doughty stays on the sample player, moving back and forth from triggering
samples to playing keys, creating a landscape that is slow, cool,
and perfect. St. Louise Is Listening finds Doughty back
on guitar as the band finds a faster groove that has what can only
be described as a killer vibe.
Doughty gives his fairly normal speech about playing the
song before the fake last song and how the next few songs
will play out with the encore and such, then begins
to play a striking and wonderful version of So Far I Have
Not Found The Science. Never before have I heard this song
sound so lush yet simple and sparse, but perfect. Mike then moves
back to the sampler to start Super Bon Bon with a slew
of hilarious samples before grabbing a guitar to play the song and
then inducing the audience into some great participation by asking,
simply, Will you indulge me?
The rhythm section abandons the stage, Doughty turns around for
15 seconds, and then returns on his own for a great, slow, mellow
rendition of Janine that has the crowd truly rapt in
attention. The rhythm section emerges once more for a very classic
version of Circles that is pretty much how Doughty has
been playing the song for the last 15 years.
Overall, the night was truly a wonderful treat, filled with songs
that went far beyond the handful that made their way onto the newest
album. All those years of Doughty telling us how he would never
play these songs again is finally, thankfully, put to rest. Perhaps
in writing his memoir, The Book Of Drugs, Doughty finally laid to
rest many of the demons that have plagued this time in his life
and somewhere, inexplicably, he has found the wherewithal to not
only play these songs again, but to truly turn them around and make
them all his own again. There will never more be any doubt at all,
by anyone, ever, anywhere, that this was truly the man behind the
genius of Soul Coughing. Ever. Doughty rules.
1. Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago
2. Sugar Free Jazz
3. Bus To Beelzebub
4. The Idiot Kings
5. Unmarked Helicopter
6. Lazy Bones
7. Screenwriter's Blues
8. Uh, Zoom Zip
9. Mr. Bitterness
10. Soft Serve
11. How Many Cans?
12. Monster Man
13. True Dreams Of Wichita
14. St. Louise Is Listening
15. So Far I Have Not Found The Science
16. Super Bon Bon
October 29, 2013
Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO
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