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Live Review: Fruit Bats at The Mission Theater - January 23rd, 2010

Live Review: Fruit Bats at The Mission Theater - January 23rd, 2010

6:35… I’m at the Mission Theater, alone and wondering if this is the correct choice for a Saturday evening. I soon find my hand being stamped with black ink by a man in bright yellow-and-pink clothing that looks to have been dug out of a bin where beggars throw their rejects. Following his kind direction into the theater hall ahead, I perform my best scurry through the crowd, quickly settling in a secluded seat with cushions and a decent view.

6:42… It was an all-ages sort of thing, and each was there to give a proper representation for their group. There was a grandma to the front, dads scattered about, children speckled within, and a large number of teenagers to my right, bringing back memories of these sort of things in a time that seems so far past. We made up the majority of the crowd; our age group, those who like myself, were ready to discover whether this was indeed the correct choice for an early Saturday evening.

7:01… A band appears. Well...some people got on stage with instruments and started playing music anyhow. Although listening intently for a name between each retro-embraced B-52’s-esque number, all I could come up with was “The Sunny Sunshine.” These guys had a decent sound, but lacked enough confidence/charisma/any interest at all to pull it off very well. Mid-set, the bass pedal collapsed and the front man asked if there were any comedians amongst us. Living in the moment, grandma stands up immediately from her family table and waves both hands in the air. Not expecting to be called out, “we the crowd” watch in anguish as she reluctantly approaches the stage. In one of those unspoken, “united we stand in embarrassment for you” moments, breath was held, eyes slammed shut, fingers were broken to a cross…and grandma told a joke. Something about Nantucket and a nugget, either way, it wasn’t music and it wasn’t funny, unless of course bitter reality is your cup of tea. The band finished dillydallying shortly after grandma had left the building, and The Sunny Sunshine played out the rest of their very unfocused set.


8:00… the Fruit Bats arrive. Being someone who has only heard their music a couple of times, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but was quite confident that if these guys merely came out and shouted their name with any stamina, it would stand as the top performance of the evening. Luckily, they did one better. Bringing the focus back to enjoyable, front man Eric Johnson called the crowd up to dance. Following the teenagers to my right, the fathers and children speckled about, all my peers, and yes, even the Nantucket Nugget herself, I leapt into the swarm.

8:35… When a band performs with so much personality and spunk, it often times rarely matters if what they are playing is any good. But the Fruit Bats were better than good, and wonderful performers at that, shouting to the crowd and genuinely showing pleasure in raising an audience. At one point Johnson apologized for not having the time to profess his witty banter upon us due to a curfew for the theater, but gave just as much in singing and leading our dance by the last second of the very last note.

- Michael Miller

Published: January 30, 2010 |

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