Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore, PA — Leah and I discovered, roughly seven years after the fact, that we were at the same Soul Coughing show in Philly in 1998, long before we met. This Mike Doughty show was a fun opportunity to kind of recreate that night as if we had actually spent it together.
Soul Coughing was perhaps the most unique band to find a larger audience during the permissive major-label alt-rock boom of the ’90s, and to my ears, the blandness of singer/guitarist Mike Doughty’s subsequent solo career underscored that the band was greater than the sum of its parts. When Doughty announced he’d be doing a tour playing the entirety of Soul Coughing’s debut, Ruby Vroom, in honor of its 25th anniversary, I assumed it would be an underwhelming affair with just him and his guitar. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case; he assembled a Soul Coughing simulacrum from half of the opening band (the inoffensive pop rockers Wheatus) and an upright bass player nicknamed Scrap, and their renditions of the SC classics were true enough to the source material’s whimsical chaos. But as much as I still enjoy listening to those albums from time to time, something about Doughty’s rap-inflected beat poetry doesn’t hold up for me in a live setting anymore.