Heavy, Hooky and High Flyin': Uncle Kracker with Fountains of Wayne
By
J. Gordon
9/1/2003 9:42:42 PM

Heavier than a Harrier! Hookier than a Hornet F/A-18! It’s Uncle Kracker with Fountains of Wayne at the St. Louis County Fair and Air Show!

Matt Shafer a.k.a., Uncle Kracker, sauntered onto the St. Louis outdoor stage looking like anyone at the fair who’d been hiking along the muddy paths, riding carnival rides, and ducking in and out of shelter when the rain started up (and maybe he had been. Heck, his tour bus had been there since 3:00!).

Touring on his latest release, No Stranger To Shame [Lava Records], Uncle Kracker showed the rowdy St. Louis crowd he can rap with the likes of like Kid Rock, croon like Elvis, and everything in between.

Uncle Kracker got his start in the music industry with fellow Detroit resident and buddy Kid Rock, who recently jumped in on his show at the Michigan State Fair. Kracker originally burst into the business first by working the turntables as DJ in Kid Rock's old band, Twisted Brown Trucker. As the success of his mentor took hold, Uncle Kracker' pursued his own and broke ground with his first album, Double Wide, released in 2000, produced by Kid Rock and engineered by Mike Bradford.

Opening with their rap-rock hit, “Thunderhead Hawkins,” and closing with “Who's Your Uncle” as an encore, they sandwiched everyone’s favorites in between, including, “Whiskey & Water,” “What Chu Lookin' At,” “Drift Away,” and the title track from the hugely successful “No Stranger To Shame.” A highlight was a brief detour into the AC/DC' classic, “She Shook Me All Night Long” during his song, “Follow Me.”

U.K. T-shirt sales were brisk and it was a safe bet that one out of every four in the packed air show crowd will now be sporting the “No Stranger To Shame” motto across their chest for a long time to come.

Opening were Fountains of Wayne, a band that, after almost ten years of recording and touring, are finally getting the respect they deserve. First making a name for themselves with the catchy title track for the Tom Hanks movie, “That Thing You Do!”, this New York power-pop band enchanted everyone with undeniably memorable ditties like “Mexican Wine” when they crooned:

I used to fly for United Airlines/
Then I got fired for reading High Times/
My license expired in almost no time/
Now I'm retired and I think that's fine.


Singer Chris Collingwood often sounds like one of TMBG, only with bigger, better guitars, and he puts his quirky sound to good use with oftentimes hilarious and heartfelt lyrics such as those in “Hackensack,” a song about a high school crush who went on to become a movie star (which the band did “Lilith Fair style” and played acoustic).

There was lots of dancing and equal amounts of laughter, especially when they went into a medley of classic rock songs in the key of A—Foreigner’s “Double Vision,” Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son,” Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good To Me (so far)” and the Cars’ “Let’s Go.” Were they making fun of themselves for writing “Radiation Vibe,” which sounded so close to these classic rock um, er… gems? You be the judge.

But no song rocked the house quite so much as their second to last, “Stacy’s Mom,” a funny pop song about a teenage boy’s increasing lust for an older woman, which is getting quite a few spins, especially since supermodel Rachel Hunter did the video. If Stacy’s Mom has got it goin’ on, then the Fountains of Wayne do too.

 

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