FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE with KYP HARNESS at the Horseshoe, September 18. Tickets: $13.50. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Sweating in the jam-packed Horseshoe last Thursday night, I couldn't help thinking about where college rock darlings go to die. It's not that NYC power pop stalwarts Fountains of Wayne ought to pack it in just yet. They're still churning out the deliciously simple hooks 'n' harmonies they perfected back in 1996 on their self-titled debut.
Their big singalong hit, Denise, from the summer of 99 is one of those insta-zeitgeist songs like Matthew Sweet's Sick Of Myself or James's Laid that define a generation for about two seconds and live on in perpetuity through drunken jukebox play in university pubs and hazy memories of almost getting laid during frosh week.
You could see the entire room of 20- and early 30-somethings light up when the band launched into the bouncy strains of Denise a mere two songs into their set. Bleach-blond singer Chris Collingwood cooed the lyrics, and the baseball-capped post-grads punched one another's arms and clutched their nicely put-together girlfriends a little tighter.
The crowd also went crazy - like, chorus singalong and fist-pumping crazy - over newer tunes like the insanely catchy Cars-ish bop of Stacy's Mom and the summery shimmy of Mexican Wine. You've got to give Collingwood and co-frontman Adam Schlesinger props for maintaining long-lasting audience excitement. They even threw in a sweet Smiths cover, proving they've nailed the collective musical nostalgic consciousness of their demographic on the head.
Still, you wonder how long the boys can keep making the same sunny power pop without getting bored. Sure, Schlesinger lets off some artistic steam in his other band, the loungey Ivy, and he's paid bills with a slew of movie soundtracks (he penned That Thing You Do! for Tom Hanks's 97 retro pop homage and scored the appalling Shallow Hal), and Collingwood's gotten his country rocks off with Mercy Buckets, but you can only milk the college rock shtick for so long.