Pop Break Live: Mike Doughty with Ghost of Mr. Oberon at Horeshore Tavern in Toronto, Canada
Words & Photos by Matt Di Paola
The last time I saw Mike Doughty was in 2012, performing his solo material at the Drake Underground in Toronto. It was shortly after the release of his memoir, The Book of Drugs, which was less of a memoir and more of a bitter and cathartic release of what Soul Coughing might have been if the band had not imploded.
This was not that.
Seven years later, Doughty was back touring, performing and actually celebrating the 25th anniversary of Soul Coughing’s most acclaimed album, Ruby Vroom at Toronto’s Legendary Horseshoe Tavern.
Kicking off the night was an unknown, mysterious opening act called the Ghost of Mr. Oberon. Look them up online and see what you can find. Not much (other than a fun Instagram account)
The ridiculousness of the Ghost of Mr. Oberon set the tone for the lightheartedness of the rest of the show. Mike Doughty, guitarist Ori Aravena, “
In between songs, Doughty introduced the band several times, entertained the audience with nonsensical tour banter with Andrew Livingston, and revealed to the audience the magical ability to reset any conversation by repeating “Wallace Shawn” until you were ready to move on. He also talked about his love of Patreon, the service he uses to support himself as an artist, how the tour was completely self-funded and how for a small subscription, he will send you a new song a week, something he hopes to do for many years to come.
Beyond the sheer joy of hearing songs like ‘Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago’ and ‘Screenwriter’s Blues’ live, the real magic was watching Doughty conduct the band, cueing their instruments on and off, remixing each song live on stage, giving it a feel of improvisation and connectedness as the band moved through the album as a tight unit.
True to the lighthearted form, they introduced their “fake last song”, Mr Bitterness, and then came back after a brief break, with their real last song, and the official last song of Ruby Vroom, “Janine.” Also back for the last song was Rachel Murdy, who we learned, was the voice of original recording of Janine, 25 years earlier.
Super Bon Bon
Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago
Sugar Free Jazz
Blue Eyed Devil
Bus to Beelzebub
True Dreams of Wichita
City of Motors
Uh, Zoom Zip
Down to This