Fountains of Wayne review @ Tarrytown Music Hall

Had the pleasure of seeing Fountains of Wayne play live last Friday at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY. I was impressed with the venue, the sound quality was very good, friendly volunteers (seemed like most of the staff was), and several good choices for food within a few blocks of the theatre.

For me, I think it’s the best show I’ve seen them play. Typically, I prefer small venues where you just pack in and enjoy, like the old 9:30 Club in DC. It’s really the only time I like to be in amongst a lot of people and not feel like finding a quiet spot. I like the muddy sound in front of a stage, the heat of the crowd and just the energy in that spot.

Oddly, the Tarrytown Music Hall is an 800 seat theatre with no general admission area. Our seats were stage left in the orchestra in row J, so we were back a bit. Sight lines were good and the mix was fine.

Robert Schwartzman was the opener and played well. I had the pleasure of a good conversation later in the evening with their drummer Tom, a totally cool guy….and drummer. Found out later that Robert is the son of Talia Shire. I made the off-hand comment during their set that Robert looked oddly like Jason Schwartzman. I wasn’t far off. Yup, his brother.

FoW hit the stage at 9:15, starting with “Little Red Light”, which made sense since the Tappen Zee is about 2 miles away. Highlights for me were “Denise” and “Dip in the Ocean” early on. They played a few songs I had never seen them play, including a beautiful version of “Troubled Times” and a rollicking version of “Joe Rey”. Evidently Joe Rey was in attendance…..

So why was it my favorite show? One, I thought the set list was well thought out (see picture). You’ll always get acoustic tunes mid-set, but throw in “Survival Car” and “Valley Winter Song” and “Hackensack” and “Troubled Times”, well….that’s a nice selection of songs. Encore was solid (see list). They played extended space out sections of “No Better Place” and “Sink to the “Bottom”.

First time I have seen them NOT play a silly medley in the middle of “Radiation Vibe”. They played it straight and finished the show with it (well, before encore).

Most of all, they played extremely well with a lot of energy and freedom. And I think that’s what I appreciated the most. I wonder if there is a difference for the band playing a small club vs a large theatre? Is the large theatre show more “professional”? Are small club gigs looser and more playful? I never played anything larger than a bar/club….I seriously wouldn’t know…..

In any case, it’s always fun to see FoW. Good guys with a tremendous amount of musical and songwriting talent. One request to FoW: Would you please play “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart” and “Hate to See You Like This” next March in New Hope, PA?

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