ASBURY PARK, N.J. Equipped with two acoustic guitars, his
trademark horn-rimmed glasses and a fluffier-than-usual buzzcut, Soul
Coughing guitarist/vocalist/lyricist M. Doughty visited the Saint nightclub
This rare solo performance was an unplugged treat for fans of both his
band and his witty, hip-hop-influenced vocal style.
"My name is M. Doughty," he told the sold-out crowd of 150, "and all I've
brought with me are two very small guitars."
It was the third and final date of a short acoustic tour for the singer,
whose experimental rock/jazz/hip-hop band is best known for such hits as
"Super Bon Bon" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Circles."
However, there wouldn't be any "Super Bon Bon" at this show. Instead,
Doughty picked through some of Soul Coughing's lesser-known tracks and
rare B-sides. He also offered two new songs and jagged spoken-word bits.
Still, Doughty received numerous shout-out requests for the band's hits.
When one fan shrieked for "Unmarked Helicopters," from 1996's "X-Files"
soundtrack, Songs in the Key of X, Doughty shook his head. "What
did you say?" he asked, looking puzzled. "It sounded like you said,
'Straight Outta Compton.' "
For the most part, Soul Coughing is the sum of its parts, spotlighting
composer/keyboardist Mark de Gli Antoni's blitzkrieg of samples and double
bassist Sebastian Steinberg's upright bebop licks. The band also includes
drummer Yuval Gabay.
Without his bandmates, Doughty couldn't do much to reproduce the group's
sound except to present the unplugged essence of some of its jazzier and
softer moments. As the night wore on, he broke that monotony by interacting
with heckling fans, busting free-form rhymes and poking fun at Ricky Martin,
Oasis and Semisonic.
Just as Soul Coughing's music is essentially fun, Doughty's set was
remarkably funny. After delivering a smoky rendition of "Blue Eyed Devil,"
from the band's 1994 debut, Ruby Vroom, the gaunt singer knocked
out a quick song: "Get the f--- out of my city/ It was once quiet, it
was once pretty/ But then you came along, and now it's like the town in
During "Soft Serve" (RealAudio
excerpt), the singer tossed in the chorus of Semisonic's "Closing
Time," while "True Dreams of Wichita" featured a quick poke at Oasis,
with such lines as "And after all, you're my Tylenol/ And after all,
you're McCartney, Paul."
"You're some drunk motherf---ers," Doughty told the crowd, many of whom
kept requesting a quick rendition of "Super Bon Bon."
After one audience member loudly requested that the singer "shake your
bon bon," Doughty smirked and shook his head. "You don't understand," he
responded. "That song was on the radio, on MTV. That song was my life."
When the fan apologized and said, "It was a joke," Doughty shrugged his
shoulders. "Yeah, you're telling me."
The rest of the set was marked by at least two new numbers, including one
song Doughty identified as "The Pink Life." Laid-back and jazzy, the song
was reminiscent of Soul Coughing's "Janine" or "Sugar Free Jazz." He
played "St. Louise Is Listening" and "Circles" (RealAudio
excerpt), tracks from his band's latest release, last year's
El Oso, and he did a quick rendition of the Magnetic Fields song
"The Grand Canyon."
The Ruby Vroom cut "Janine" got the greatest response. With the
crowd singing along, Doughty did his best to throw off everyone by switching
words and inserting '90s catchphrases into the mix.
"Point your browsers to www-dot-janine-dot-org," he sang gleefully. Later,
he changed the chorus line in "Circles" to "I don't need to walk around
For the closer, Doughty tossed out a smoky rendition of "Lazybones," from
the band's Irresistible Bliss (1996).
"To see Doughty in this kind of setting is something really special for
Soul Coughing fans," Kristine Menina, 23, said. "The band music is primarily
electronic, with all of the samples and sound loops. But here, it was
just Doughty being who he is a poet who can play the acoustic
guitar. Soul Coughing is like designer jeans; this show was essentially