Currently on tour in support of Mike Doughty, Wheatus started the night on an energetic note with “Break It Don’t Buy It” from the The Valentine LP. In lieu of a proper set list, Brown announced that they would mostly play requests from the audience. Fans jumped at the opportunity to hear their favorites, calling out a number of deeper cuts like “Leroy,” “Fourteen,” and “Lemonade.”
Accompanied by three powerful backing vocalists, Brown’s trademark falsetto was just as strong as ever, hitting those impressive high notes that help define their sound. Madden Klass (drums), Matthew Milligan (bass), and Brandon Ticer (keyboards) filled out the rest of the lineup, churning out feel good jams spanning over a decade.
Despite a rotating lineup, Brendan B. Brown has been carrying the torch since the band’s notable self-titled debut in 2000. Brown and co. have kept plenty busy since then, releasing three subsequent full length albums of upbeat, quirky tunes full of themes of young love and a strong coming of age vibe.
There were a few surprises though, including “Michelle” – a new “metal song” that caused Brendan to temporarily break his set up in his quest to get the correct distorted guitar sound. Once he sorted out his settings, he endearingly blamed it on himself as the crowd chuckled at the whole ordeal.
Surprisingly, the very polite crowd did not call out for “Teenage Dirtbag” but the band queued it up anyway, wrapping up their set with their most popular song before “entering the phone booth” for their big swap.
The big swap Brown was referring to was joining none other than Mike Doughty on stage for the entirety of Soul Coughing’s Ruby Vroom.
Doughty came out first to a hearty applause and opened with a solo rendition of “Circles” from 2000’s critically acclaimed, El Oso. After a bit of a warm up, he was joined on stage by Klass, Brown, Milligan, and Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on electric upright bass. “Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago” elicited one of the most hype, visceral reaction from the audience as they proudly sang along to the chorus.
For fans of Soul Coughing and Doughty’s solo material, it was a real treat to watch him work his magic, commanding his musical troops with his distinctive hand motions. Anyone familiar with Doughty’s discography is aware that he can produce a stunning amount of material, all uniquely his own but with a diverse flair for jazz, hip hop, R&B, and rock. To keep things fresh, he chose to do live remixing of some songs, opting to omit certain instruments on a whim to create a whole new sound for the songs fans adore.
This approach went over brilliantly as the crowd could still sing along and participate in the call and response of songs like “Casiotone Nation” that remind us how rewarding it can be to engage with the artist in real time.
The set seem to fly by as both the band and fans were having an incredible amount of fun. Mike and Andrew (who sadly lost his voice) shared in witty banter and random anecdotal stories that were a palate cleanser between songs. Inevitably, we all knew when the end of the show was drawing near since everyone is familiar with the track list. But they handled it brilliantly by joking about the nature of an encore and pretended to be surprised by our cheers for the last song, “Janine.”
It was more than nostalgia for a specific era of alternative music. It was a testament to the staying power of both artists’ desire to keep creating music. For fans looking for more, Mike Doughty has a Patreon page where he posts a new song every week exclusively for patrons. You can find the remaining tour dates in support of Ruby Vroom here.