Mike Doughty Brings Ruby Vroom To The First Ave Mainroom Saturday Night


Several inches of snow couldn’t stop the ‘90’s music faithful from filling the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday night. In the first of two back to back shows, Mike Doughty broke out Soul Coughing’s Ruby Vroom in its entirety. This album was the debut release from Soul Coughing in 1994. This tour marks the 25-year anniversary of the release.

Supporting Mike on this tour were East Coast based Wheatus. Leader Brendan Brown was very animated, dancing around the stage as he jammed on his hollow body guitar. At one point, Brown lost control and jumped into the crowd. Highlights of the set were a tasty Rush cover and the band’s big hit “Teenage Dirtbag”.

Doughty came out on the stage solo right around 9, and with just an electric guitar launched into “Super Bon Bon”, ironically not on Ruby Vroom, but obviously one of Soul Coughing’s biggest hits. While stripped down, it was very cool, almost like a cover, if it weren’t for Doughty himself playing it on stage.  Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on stand-up bass, Madden “Little Pepper” Klass on the drum kit (who also banged the skins for Wheatus), came onstage at the conclusion of “Super Bon Bon” and broke into another non-Ruby Vroom tune “Circles. With two of Soul Coughing’s biggest hits out of the way, the rest of the band came out, with Brendan Brown on guitar and Matthew Lillington on the sampler. (Both of these guys were from Wheatus, but apparently, they don’t rate nicknames)

With the sold-out crowd warmed up, the band launched into the first track from Vroom, “Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago”.  While Soul Coughing was a nineties band, they weren’t part of the grunge scene. The nineties were much more than grunge, and music ran the gamut from the big band like sound of Squirrel Nut Zippers, to the mellow piano of Ben Folds. Soul Coughing fell into the jazzier side of nineties spectrum, and Saturday’s show was like a coffee house performance. With the bassist sitting while playing and the drums close to the edge of the stage, the production had an intimate yet intense feel. Doughty paced the stage reciting lines like a troubadour.

While the stage set up had a cozy feel, the sold-out audience was very animated. The crowd sang along loudly, especially when they counted along with Doughty during “Casiotone Nation” Doughty was in a great mood, with his between set dialog bordering on stand-up comedy, even though his vocal chords were “shredded”.

Doughty proved Saturday night that his unique sample heavy jazz jams are just as fresh today as they were during the flannel and grunge era 90’s.

Setlist: Super Bon Bon – Circles – Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago – Sugar Free Jazz – Casiotone Nation – Blue Eyed Devil – Bus To Beelzebub – True Dreams Of Wichita – Screenwriter’s Blues – Moon Sammy – Supra Genius – City Of Motors – Uh, Zoom Zip – Down To This – Mr. Bitterness – Janine