The last time we saw Mike Doughty in the Washington area, he was barnstorming the country with his right-hand cello player to drum up buzz for his new album, Golden Delicious.
Now that the album has been released, Doughty is touring the country again with a full band backing him up.
Upon arriving about a half hour before he was scheduled to perform Saturday night at the 9:30 Club, the first thing noticed was the crowd.
"Whoa, Mike Doughty has become much more popular," we thought as we trudged up the stairs to the top row of the balcony to try to find a good spot for the show.
Yes, Mike certainly drew a crowd -- much bigger than his last time playing the famous D.C. establishment.
And for that, we say, "You're welcome."
Aww ... we kid, we kid. We won't try to take credit for his rise in popularity, even though we blew out his last area appearance in Annapolis with a story, video interview and concert footage.
No sir, it appears the kids really do like the sound. Fresh off the release of "Golden Delicious," Doughty and his full band pleased the crowd on this night with a fine mix of new tunes, old favorites and some Soul Coughing added to the mix.
Have the big crowds changed Doughty? Doesn't seem like it. He still was his down-to-earth self in front of the packed house. And, of course, there was the obligatory miscue in the middle of a song, which seems to happen at least once a show. This time it was a dead battery on his acoustic guitar, which he happened to notice halfway through "Unsingable Name."
"You guys can't hear the guitar, can you?" Doughty asked the crowd after stopping his band during the second verse.
With drummer Pete McNeal providing solid cover with a story about manhole covers (don't ask), Doughty found another battery, jokingly asked if there was anything else he could do that he should have done before the show, and then jumped back into the song.
It's that kind of performance that endears people to Doughty.
The rest of the night, however, went off without a hitch. His current band was solid. McNeal provided the backbone for all of the songs, while Andrew "Scrap" Livingston traded in his cello for a bass guitar and John Kirby rounded things out with a solid night on the keyboard.
Highlight of the show: Doughty set aside the guitar at one point and picked up what we guess would be called a synth box to do some freestylin' using sound bytes. With McNeal providing a funky beat, Doughty kicked it old-school for a bit before morphing the jam into "More Bacon Than The Pan Can Handle."
"Bacon" can be found on his latest release, and you'll find the song, ahem, panned by most "expert" reviewers (Pitchfork, we're looking in your direction).
But come on, it's fun. It's also a throwback song to Doughty's days with Soul Coughing. Sure, it might not make much sense lyrically, but it's different than all the other crap thrown at us on a daily basis on the radio.
While Doughty polished his songs a bit more for the masses on "Golden Delicious" in order to gain a wider fan base, his longtime fans were glad he kept something like "Bacon" on this album.
And with a bigger audience now in tow, there's hope he'll return with more of this creativity in the future.
Better the devil you know, Mike ... better the devil you know.