Red flashing lights in the rearview mirror on I-95 and I do what anybody does when a tall burly representative of Assachusetts’s finest lumbers slowly up to my pulled-over Jetta: wrench the top part of the seatbelt back over my shoulder, scan the car in a panic for contraband or open containers, and start cursing the stupid power pop on the car stereo for being so propulsive that I didn’t notice the speedometer needle tipping—OMG … 98?!
OK, ok, okaaay, get it together, Vicky, commence the waterworks, the eyelash batting, the sincerest contrition, the “Oh, officer, that’s like a WHOLE WEEK’s pay!”
Whew, a warning this time. Uhm, a warning again. And that’s why I’m not driving from my adopted state of Rhode Island to New York this weekend to see The Figgs at Mercury Lounge on Friday or at The Gutter in Williamsburg on Saturday. I will let the double-decker opulence of Megabus do the speeding for me.
The Figgs are a band originally from Upstate New York who’ve been churning out garage-y pop rock for a quarter century. I spent most of those years in a different garage, the cassette mix DIY one, over there in lo-fi alley. But I love this kind of thing and don’t really know why I kind of ignored it, and I’m thankful to Spotify for allowing me to spend a whole week plowing through the Figgs catalog (sheesh, including side and solo projects) so I can ruminate on how, if I were still a DJ, I would have a segue field day thusly: “Please Hold On” can sit next to Kicking Giant. “Come On Tonight” can be with Cheap Trick. “We’ll Be Doing Time” can lead into Any Trouble. “Favorite Shirt” can follow Archers of Loaf. My favorite track “Longing For You” can hold hands with The Liquor Giants. Almost any of these tracks could hang out with early Elvis Costello or Tommy Keene or Chisel or The Kinks. The Figgs would probably have been pretty at home on Stiff Records in the early 80s if they’d been around then. Yes, they totally are that fun.
If you need more name-droppy touchstones, please note that The Figgs, although far from what we might call a household name, did not go unappreciated by people of import: Lexus used their song “Je T’adore” in a commercial for a luxury vehicle that most of their fans probably cannot afford. Graham Parker used them for a backing band, saying “When The Figgs back me up, I don’t know where my front is.” So did Tommy Stinson, perhaps recognizing that after The Replacements kind of fumbled the ball of trashy drunken heart-wrenching rock, the Figgs scooped up the ball and made the run towards that goal line. Ooof, I am terrible with sports metaphors, but there you go: SCORE.