Live Last Night: Fountains of Wayne


A singer can have perfect pitch. So can a band have perfect pop? If so, Fountains of Wayne would undoubtedly be that band. The veteran quartet's acoustic show at a sold-out Birchmere last night may have been short on guitar fuzz and crackling drums, but that only served to better showcase what the band does better than almost anyone: hooks, harmonies and a craftsmanship that's almost scientific in its precision.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

When someone stumbles upon the quadratic formula equivalent of pop songwriting, it could well be after listening to Fountains songs such as "Red Dragon Tattoo," "Radiation Vibe" and "Hey Julie."

Every bass fill, double-time drum beat, clever turn of phrase and backing vocal came in at just the right time, hitting that perfect pop sweet spot. To not tap along on your knee or nod your head would be to defy the laws of nature.

Why the band has only had two hits over its decade and a half career ("Radiation Vibe" and "Stacy's Mom," which was given a jokey lounge makeover Thursday) is a minor mystery, but to exist as a power pop band is to resign oneself to a life of critical acclaim and cult-favorite status.

And the fans at the Birchmere were certainly diehards. At the false ending in "Someone to Love" only a handful of people started clapping; everyone knew there was more to come. And the cult starts young. One early grade-school aged kid was invited onstage for percussion assistance on "Hey Julie." Wearing an oversize Fountains of Wayne T-shirt, he mouthed every word during the chorus.

It was cute. Perfectly cute.

-- DAVID MALITZ

By David Malitz |  February 20, 2009; 3:12 PM ET Live Last Night
Previous: Live Last Night: Fujiya and Miyagi | Next: Live Last Night: Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra

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This was one of the best shows I've EVER seen, and I've been hanging around the Birchmere and the old Cellar Door for over 30 years. This band is tight, I tell you, and of course the lyrics and tunes are great. Fantastic show.

Posted by: rickludwick1 | February 26, 2009 9:38 AM

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