By Mike Faloon
The Day That Gravity Stopped CD
I was listening to the Figgs in public and I wasn't wearing a shirt. This is a claim I never expected to make. Nor did I want to. But it is a claim I wouldn't mind repeating given how pleasant the first time was.
"Pleasant." Not a word that typically has fans of the rock and roll clamoring for more, but there it was and there it remains. The Figgs were playing RiverFest in Beacon about a half hour north of where we live. It was 900 degrees in the midday sun. As the previous band wrapped up their set the MC reminded us, the sweaty masses clinging to the sidelines in slow motion searches for shade, that the river pool was open. I didn't know what a river pool was. Nor did my kids but they're smarter than me, wiser. They didn't ask what a river pool was. They didn't question swimming in the Hudson River. They were hot. They heard there was a pool available. They mobilized. My job was simple: direct them to water. If I too managed to cool off, all the better, but hardly the prime directive.
We walked to the river bank. The main stage was fifty some odd yards away. A ramp led us down to the water. The river pool was a brightly colored floating circle. It had a net in the center. Kids stayed in. River creatures stayed out. Maggie and Sean didn't hesitate. I did. I thought I could manage to get in without getting shorts wet. I was wrong. I was also significantly cooler and much more comfortable. Up to my waist I went. With the bottom of my shirt wet I yielded to pragmatism: take off the shirt, get wet, put the shirt—still dry—back on when I was done. Yes. It worked like magic as long as I didn't linger on these facts: 1) in addition to feeling better my shorts were soaked, 2) I was going into the city that night and 3) I wouldn't be going home first to get dry shorts.
Then the Figgs took the stage. I was pretty sure the kids would enjoy watching them. But sitting, watching, and melting in the sun couldn't trump jumping and splashing in the water. So I watched the kids and listened to the band. (Cue Mike Nesmith.) It was really pleasant.
The Figgs opened with songs from the new album, The Day Gravity Stopped. That's just what I'd been hoping for. It's a really good record. Pretty much everything clicks, whether it's an acoustic song ("Jupiter Row"), a country tune ("Can't Sit Still"), or any one of the pop tunes ("On the Grounds of Stately Homes" is one of most tender tunes in the band's songbook; "Camden Love In" couples a great hook with a sax solo that twists and turns from Steve Berlin to Pharoah Sanders sojourn). The biggest surprise is "Do Me Like You Said You Would," a sultry early '70s radio track in search of that perfect world where it tops the charts for the summer. Overall, it's one of the best records of the band's post-Sucking in Stereo era.
Later in their set, the Figgs covered the Who ("Happy Jack") and the Talking Heads ("Life During Wartime"), both to fine effect, but neither satisfied like songs from The Day Gravity Stopped.
Post-script: The kids are in fine health—none the worse for their river pool experience, though I've been keeping an eye out for signs of subsequent super powers, mutations, that sort of thing.