Written by Greg Ackerman
Last Friday late 90s acts Mike Doughty (Soul Coughing) and Wheatus played Austin’s 3TEN at ACL Live. Doughty is known for his self-described “slacker jazz” while Wheatus is known for the same type of low-fi music Austin’s Daniel Johnston introduced to Central Texans during the same era. Both acts drew a large audience comprised of thirty and forty-somethings, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Doughty who joked about his audiences aging right along with him.
Wheatus opened the show with their muted style, following the lead of vocalist/guitarist Brendan B. Brown. Matthew Milligan on electric bass and backing vocals by Gabrielle Aimee Sterbenz rounded out the group. Like the headliner, vocal effects were spread liberally throughout the performance. The New Yorkers closed their set with a satisfying rendition of their seminal single, “Teenage Dirtbag.”
Later Doughty took the stage with longtime cellist, Andrew “Scrap” Livingston with both wearing black turtleneck sweaters that made them look like 50s beat poets. Doughty kicked off the show by using his vocal effects pedal as an instrument while Livingston played cello. As the introductory song wound down, members of Wheatus joined Doughty as his backing band with Brown taking over lead guitar duties, Milligan manning the keyboard while Sterbenz played rhythm guitar.
Doughty’s solo material is an extension of the art rock/jazz/hip-hop music he began writing for Soul Coughing. In fact, a few Soul Coughing songs made it into the set list Friday including “Cirlcles,” the group’s best-known tune.
As the performance neared its close, the bespeckled songwriter joked, “This is the song before our fake last song.” Doughty proceeded to elaborate on that them before finishing the show with a humorous call and response with the crowd with lyrics consisting solely of “oh my god” quickly followed by “yeah fuck it.”
Later Doughty joked “Yo what the fuck? The show is over and it seems you want to hear one more song,” after cranking it up with the funky “Lazybones.” If our description of the man’s songwriting style sounded like nothing else you’ve heard about before it is because Mike Doughty sounds like no one else touring.
Visit Doughty’s Facebook page for live video recordings of past performances including Friday’s set. Follow the page to get notifications when more live broadcasts are available.