Fountains of Wayne are pure pop genius.
I'm not kidding one bit when I say that last Thursday's show was nothing short of brilliant. They're catchy enough to make you sing along for days, and smart enough that you don't have to feel dirty for loving them. The songs are part twee, part twang, melancholy power-pop that can hold a highlight spot on your best mix tapes.
Taking the Triple Door crowd seamlessly from sad to hopeful, ache to glee, Fountains of Wayne translated to live performance with some of the best I've ever had the privilege to see, for fifty-five straight minutes — plus a four song encore. Add in the smartest harmonies this side of Hackensack, a bass player with faint undertones of Wooten and McCartney, showcase it all in sparkle-soft stage bliss, and you've got the first best sit-down show of 2009, ever.
Far from being an understated opener, Jon Auer began the evening by pulling from an impressive catalog of songs from his Posies and Big Star days, as well as a handful of stellar tracks from his newer solo album. He was warm and epic, comfortable; using the venue's gorgeous forum for a handful of just-right, unplugged, solo-singer-songwriter in the stagelight moments. It was mouth-agape, beaming from the front row, pull up your knees to your chest and your sleeves over your hands, 'please don't let it stop' kind of good — a beautiful precursor for his headlining set Saturday night. He took over his own lyrically adept selection of songs like a true pro, delivering with just the right amount of witty banter, slashing us in half with his well-crafted ache, and brought on the talented Gavin Guss for some gorgeous support on the Steinway center-stage.
Here's the Fountains of Wayne setlist, courtesy of ChrisB:
It's worth noting that it wasn't one of those shows where you were waiting for the hit to go home — when "Stacey's Mom" showed up in the encore set, it was a well-crafted, Fountains of Wayne covering Ben Folds Five covering a lounge act covering Fountains of Wayne version that had the whole house grinning ear-to-ear.