DJ Dara / Soul Coughing, the Fillmore, San Francisco, 8/28/97
There's something inherently civilized about going to a concert at a venue that gives you free apples.
You know what? I'm going to have to plan to go see some really hideous show soon to recalibrate my authenticity as a reviewer or else no one will believe me anymore. Tonight's show was another real winner. DJ Dara opened, spinning some pretty groovy deep beat stuff. This led directly into Soul Coughing's set - each of the 4 members walked on stage and started to accompany the DJ - the keyboard/sampler guy adding to the electronic background, the upright bassist adding to the low end theory of it all, the drummer who might just as well have been playing all the beats himself, and M.Doughty the vocalist improvising some repetitive lyrics- it worked really well, and it's clear why Soul Coughing is so popular among the DJ set.
The way Soul Coughing works, I've decided, is that you either get it - *really* get it - or else you stand there for the whole show wondering what in the world is wrong with the skinny bald guy. There is very little normal about vocalist M.Doughty, but that's most of his charm. You have to admire a white guy who can get a predominantly white audience to start chanting "Kill whitey!" After a few songs had gotten the audience bopping around and sweating, he complimented us all by saying "You all just keep getting more foxy as the room gets moister." And when he closed the set, he promised, "We'll be back again soon...and next time, free chicken for everyone!" But somehow through all his crazy flailing and bopping about, through his occasional deconstruction of language and sound (like drawing "lissssning" out to a 15 second phrase), he is able to pull together some absolutely brilliant images: "And the radio man says `It is 5AM and the sun has charred the other side of the world and come back to us and painted the smoke over our heads an imperial violet. It is 5AM, and you are listening to Los Angeles.'" I'm not going to go through the rest of the band and sing their praises although they deserve it. You're just going to have to find out for yourself.
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