Tonight, on the recommendation of a new friend of mine here in Concord, I headed down to the Barley House to catch a show with Davy Rothbart, the co-creator of Found Magazine, and his brother Peter, front man for the band Poem Adept.
When I walked down the stairs into the Barley House’s B-Lounge, I was ambushed by the fact that there was a cover charge, always a bitter pill to swallow. Luckily the man at the door promised me it would be “one of the best shows of the year - no, the best show of the year.” So with that vote of confidence I decided to step on into the house. It turns out the man at the door was Peter Rothbart.
It also turns out I was glad to heed his advice. Granted, I haven’t seen too many shows this year (I prefer to just drink and dance to hip-hop, as opposed to listen to live music), but I can honestly say that he was right. It was the best show I have seen all year.
Found Magazine, for those who don’t know, is a concept where people send in letters that they have found on the street to Davy and his cohort Jason who then pick the best of the best and compile them into the anthology that is Found Magazine.
These letters range from love notes to hate mail, shopping lists and to-do lists and not-to-do lists, and even the occasional bored rant and unemployment benefit rejection. Rothbart reads them with gusto and amusement, adding depth to what is already silly, puzzling, or just plain hilarious.
Whether discussing “the dopest fish I ever saw” or a shopping receipt with eight packs of chicken flavored ramen noodles and a 12-pack of condoms, it is clear that Davy Rothbart is well invested into the intricacies and beauty of the lives of others.
Peter breaks the set up in the middle with a small set of songs based on the letters his brother receives. With his guitar, clever lyrics and strong voice, he really brings the house down with a style that mixes coffeeshop folk and Flight of the Conchords. Tonight’s songs included such titles as Fastest Nissan in the Northwest, the “dickdonculous” Damn, the Booty Don’t Stop and the existentially titled Bus or Beer?
Tonight Davy closed the show with his favorite Found letters and a long piece called “Nibble, Lick, Suck and Feast” that touched on the highlights of his last cross-country road trip and included stories about urinating falcons, a profane Cedric the Entertainer, and a local news anchor’s sultry dreams. In other words, high comedy.
See them for the songs, see them for the voyeurism, just see them. The Brothers Rothbart are beginning a 65-city tour that will more than likely hit your hometown, or a hometown near you. If you have any interest in the human condition, that we all just want someone to relate to and hear our voices, this is the show for you. Or, if that is your overwhelming interest, I recommend you write something bold and intrusive about your life and relationships then throw it on the ground somewhere, ideally around Ann Arbor, MI. You never know what might end up on NPR, or for that matter the basement of a barroom in Concord, NH.
Tour info for the There Goes the Neighborhood Tour 2007! can be found here.