Adam Schlesinger, bassist for East Coast power pop quartet Fountains of Wayne, who played Summerfest on Wednesday night, told the crowd, "I think we get invited back (to the festival) because we have a lot songs about summer."
That could be true. It could also be the catchy melodies and the quirky, witty lyrics that come together in the well-crafted songs penned by Schlesinger and singer/guitarst Chris Collingwood, and the classic infectious rock and roll sound rooted in the British Invasion bands of the 1960s.
After the sparsely attended headlining performance on the Rock Stage, it seems unlikely the band will be invited back solely for its drawing power.
Though, to be fair, the competition was strong Wednesday with David Gray, Ziggy Marley, 311 and Galactic all playing stages at the same hour.
However, the modest crowd didn't stop the band playing a solid set of material from across its five studio albums, with a bit of a focus on the latest, "Sky Full of Holes." Opening with "Little Red Light," from 2003's "Welcome Interstate Managers," FOW followed with "Someone to Love" from 2007's "Traffic and Weather," "Survival Car," from their self-titled 1996 debut, "Mexican Wine," (again from "Welcome Interstate Managers"), and "Denise," from 1999's "Utopia Parkway.
There was a bit of lull now and again -- "Hate to See You Like This" from the new record springs to mind -- but for the most part, the roughly 80-minute show was upbeat, with a bout of audience participation during "Hey Julie" that forced Schlesinger to do a little cat-herding to keep a boisterous fan in check while on stage.
Last time I saw Fountains of Wayne at the Big Gig was in the wake of the release of 1999's "Utopia Parkway." In the meantime, three more records have arrived, plus a double-disc of b-sides and rarities. But one really big thing happened to FOW in the intervening years and that thing was called "Stacy's Mom."
Fans and the Fountains had to endure repeated calls for the big hit after most every song, and, of course, Fountains of Wayne played it, saving it (natch) for the encore. Once the final note rang out, scores headed for the exit, while devotees hung around to hear one more song, a rousing version of "Sink to the Bottom."
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