Higher Ground--Burlington VT--October 20, 1998
Everyone once in a while you see a show that is so good it makes your pelvis hurt the next day, a show with a band so good you run out and bounce a check to buy all of their albums. Its the kind of show where you want to run back stage and kiss all the roadies for just being there, where every girl who is dancing looks good, and every buzzard in the crowd is your best friend. Its the kind of show that takes place in underground clubs in NY, which you arent cool enough to know about, or good looking enough to get into. Its the kind of show that doesnt allow hippy dancing, with songs that begin and end in reasonable amounts of time, songs with bass lines that make your fillings hurt, and drum fills that make drum machines cry, its the kind of show that leaves you with the unmistakable confidence that you will get laid tonight and the complete serenity to accept the fact that its just not true. Its the kind of show that makes you turn to all your friends and yell, This is a really fucking good show.
And thats about as good as a show gets. And to say the Soul Coughing event in Burlington, Vt was that kind of show is only a slight exaggeration. The truth is, the band tore apart the trendy new club called Higher Ground and popped their own Vermont virginity. The band played loud through a haze of artificial smoke, and bouncing stage lights. On the back wall ran trippy old-school cartoon clips (one of the benefits of being signed by Warner Bros.), and on the floor a sea of twenty-somethings boogied their batooskis off.
To say that M. Dowdy in his coffee-shop black plastic specs, looked like a hip nineties intellectual was to say he dressed his part perfectly, spattering out poetry with his own particularly nasal, but always perfect delivery over synthesized hooks from the keyboard, near perfect drum beats and funky walks from the upright bass. As a band they look like jazz musicians on speed. Which they just might be.
Their songs sound like poppified poetry over silly dance able grooves. Which they are. But the best part of the show was the way front man M. Dowdy worked the crowd. From spouting Madonna lines to getting everyone to chant forest fires he had us in the palm of his hand the entire show and he knew it. At the end of night I bought a T-shirt, something I never do, and I kissed a girl in the parking lot, something Id like to do more often. The moral of this story, then, is you might not ever get sex, but if you get a chance to see Soul Coughing live you are still a lucky bastard.-Kevin Peckham
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