When: Wed., April 26, 8 p.m.
These days, any band that makes it to thirty years together has both tales of glory and tales of woe to tell. After three decades of existence, The Figgs can look back on a career marked by a bit of both. Originating as a four-piece in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1987, they were at it for seven years before they issued a proper debut, 1994's Low-Fi at Society High. The record was rife with short, sharp blasts of power pop, with titles like "Cherry Blow Pop," but not quite in step with what was selling at the height of the grunge era. After its record company died a sudden death and the more ambitious follow-up flummoxed its new label, the band found itself without a contract and went back to the small Absolute-a-Go-Go label that released its first cassettes.
Good thing that the band's cover of a harrowing song by Graham Parker caught the ear of the acerbic English songwriter, who acerbically opined that the Figgs cover was the only thing he liked on a tribute LP to himself. Eventually, Parker asked The Figgs to join him on tour. The Figgs were not only fans of Parker, with a set list that included one of his tunes, they had also endured enough record industry woes to compete with Parker himself, whose protracted battles with labels were the stuff of legend.
Parker had turned to The Figgs precisely because they weren't seasoned pros, but rather guys who played because they loved it. At this late date, they certainly are seasoned pros, but the love of what they do remains unabated. That's surely what made a fan of Tommy Stinson of the Replacements, who tapped them as both tour mates and backing band during the aughts.
The band's earlier work will put you in mind of Sloan, Velvet Crush, and even Weezer. In the course of thirteen LPs, the band has continued to draw upon the power pop template, emphasizing strong melodic hooks, tight riffs, and soaring harmonies, but on its most recent LP, last year's On the Slide, the band stretches out, incorporating roots and soul elements while never losing the spring in its step. —David Klein