Mike Doughty's The Book of Drugs reading and concert at the Fox Theatre, 4/1/12
No matter how many ways he said no, Mike Doughty was still bombarded with requests for Soul Coughing songs at the Fox Theatre last night. Currently on tour in support of his autobiography, The Book of Drugs, and the recently released album Yes And Also Yes (one of close to a dozen records Doughty has released since his major label band's break-up in 2000), he couldn't seem to shake his audience's desire for the music of his past. But Doughty made the best of the sparse crowd's intentions, speaking frankly, as promised, about the hell that was Soul Coughing.
Appearing on stage just after 9 p.m. with just a guitar and a copy of his book, Doughty cracked the awkward air with "Your Misfortune" and "Grey Ghost." He then started spilling secrets, revealing that his latest album was named after his own OKCupid dating profile, one he didn't have much luck with before meeting his girlfriend -- who was not, in fact, on OkCupid.
Doughty seemed happy to be in the moment, although a thread of nervous energy ran throughout the show, peaking during "Busting Up a Starbucks," when the singer stopped mid-song and asked a gentleman in the crowd to "shut the fuck up." But Doughty moved along after that, dishing dirt on what bumbling fools his Soul Coughing counterparts revealed themselves to be in their less than a decade as a band.
The juiciest bits of his story came when the author read from The Book of Drugs about his career as a major-label musical lackey at the age of 23 -- describing such events as opening for Dave Matthews Band at Madison Square Garden while on ecstacy and the eventual nervous breakdown he experienced in the offices of Warner Bros. records.
There was lots of talk about his addictions, too, as promised: Doughty detailed the treks he made through New York City's Lower East Side as a dope fiend, an alcoholic and chronic weed smoker. But for all of the terror Doughty experienced throughout the '90s, he's grateful to be in the current moment.
Except for those in the crowd yelling Soul Coughing requests (last night, a man kept demanding "Soft Serve"). But Doughty weathered that annoyance with grace and lots of between-song cussing, and delivered some of his better\-known solo work, including "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well Song," "I Hear the Bells" and the Mary J. Blige's "Real Love" -infused "Real Love/It's Only Life."
It was refreshing to hear Doughty's story of giant failure and eventual personal success; his candor regarding the inner-workings of a band on a major label gave great insight into what it takes to be a musician under the pressure of other people's money and interests. With all that, who needed a Soul Coughing song?