Fountains of Wayne couldn’t have known it when they booked the gig, but Saturday was a terrible night to play Los Angeles. Saturday’s Lakers game looked to be the most important game so far this season — which had to put a damper on any walk-up business. Judging from the low turnout, it’s possible some ticket holders opted for the pick and roll over rock ‘n’ roll. (The large-screen monitor in the lobby was tuned to the game, and a healthy crowd remained glued to the set, turning the Wiltern into a most incongruous combination, an art deco sports bar.)
Box office wasn’t helped by the fact that “Mexican Wine,” the second single from “Welcome Interstate Managers” (S-Curve), hasn’t had the impact of last year’s hit “Stacy’s Mom.” And a year of touring hasn’t worn well on the band. Playing basically the same set list (down to the ’70s rock medley inserted into “Radiation Vibe”) as at last year’s House of Blues appearance, Fountains of Wayne sounded listless and uninspired. It’s like the cast near the end of a play’s long run — the performance feels flat because the actors telegraph the punchlines. So the juxtapositions and segues that were so clever and charming a year ago — the guitar line from “Layla” that slides into “Sink to the Bottom,” the way “Stacy’s Mom” joins the Cars to the band Boston, the echo of Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers” in the intro to “Go, Hippie” — now feel pro forma.
Like the Lakers, Fountains of Wayne have had a good run, but they’re aging. References to Puff Daddy and Korn already sound dated. It just may be time for the band to go into rebuilding mode and work on new material.