In Praise of Smart Power Pop: Fountains of Wayne at Ardmore Music Hall

Chris Collingswood
Last weekend, Fountains of Wayne came to the Ardmore Music Hall, a nifty new venue fifteen minutes for our house.  As big fans of FoW, we were so there.  If all you know of Fountains of Wayne is "Stacy's Mom," I urge you to give this band a closer listen--especially if you crave lyrics that range from clever to heartbreaking, sometimes in the same song.  And especially if, like me, you're a sucker for power pop.

Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingswood are one of those songwriting teams whose talents meld perfectly.  Schlesinger's a brilliant wordsmith with, of all things, serious Broadway credentials.  You know that boffo opening number Neal Patrick Harris sang at the 2011 Tony Awards? 

Guess who cowrote it?  

Adam Schlesinger
Schlesinger also writes for Hollywood (including songs for one of my favorite goofy rom coms, Music and Lyrics.)  He brings a storyteller's sensibility to Fountains of Wayne's songs.    

As for Collingswood, his voice gives FoW their distinctive sound.  And his love of country music informs some of the band's most memorable and affecting songs.

Fountains of Wayne sound as great live as they do on CD.  Collingswood is a bit aloof as a performer, but charismatic lead guitarist Jody Porter makes up for it.  

Jody Porter

And when they play the crowd pleasing song "Hey Julie"--one of my favorites--they invariably pull people onto the stage to play rhythm.  So I got to shake a maraca with three other lucky and hammy folks from the audience.  Chris Collingswood rated our performance a C plus--but I'm pretty sure that was grade inflation.

Anyway, here's the "Hey Julie" video--a perfect accompaniment for this sweet but sharp little song.

How can you not love lines like this?

"Workin' all day for a mean little guy
 with a bad toupee and a soup-stained tie.
 He's got me runnin' round the office like a gerbil on a wheel.
 He can tell me what to do but he can't tell me what to feel."

By the way, Evan Dando and Soul Asylum opened for FoW. We were up against the stage where the sound was so muddy we couldn't make out any of either act's lyrics.  But both were interesting enough musically that I will be checking their catalogs out soon.  Justin Sharbono, the lead guitarist for Soul Asylum was fantastic enough that I didn't even mind he was more or less all I could hear clearly.

Justin Sharbono


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