Anyone at Muddy Waters Cafe post-Super Bowl who thought they were hearing what The Shins might sound like if they ran wild with their already heavy folk tendencies would have hit the nail on the head Sunday night. The Fruit Bats, who are also signed to Sub Pop, is the creation of Shins’ guitarist and pianist, Eric D. Johnson, who performed flawlessly before an elated audience at Muddy this past weekend.
The band (made up of Johnson, keyboardist Ron Lewis, drummer Graeme Gibson, bassist Chris Sherman, and guitarist Sam Wagster) started their set around 11 p.m. and played a wide array of tunes from their catalogue. However, unlike many other bands, the Fruit Bats didn’t play any of their songs as they were originally recorded. Everything was remixed, sped up, or slowed down in such a perfect way as to enliven the music and give albums owners something new to enjoy. Songs like “Canyon Girl,” “When U Love Somebody,” and the encore-closing “Earthquake of ’73” were all special renditions of existing ditties. Another highlight of the show was a preview of the Fruit Bats’ upcoming new album. The unreleased songs were still folksy, featured longer jams and solos rooted in rock ‘n’ roll, and showed lots of promise. It will definitely be an album worth watching for in ’09.
With their spread of instruments ranging from a typical guitar, bass, and drum setup to a 10-string slider, harmonica, maracas, and organ, the boys of the Fruit Bats rocked Muddy for roughly an hour, and even managed to squeeze in a cover of Bob Dylan‘s, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by demand. Humble as they are, the band hung around afterward to peddle some of their own merch – a bonus in and of itself at such a tiny, all-ages venue – and talk cordially to any and all of their fans in attendance.