Fruit Bats | Local 506 | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
This is a past event.

Fruit Bats 

When: Tue., Sept. 8, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: $15

FRUIT BATS

TUESDAY, SEPT. 8

LOCAL 506, CHAPEL HILL—As Seattle's Sub Pop Records shifted focus from '90s grunge to '00s folk, Eric D. Johnson was a slyly key figure. He was a consummate sideman on different ends of the tidy-to-untidy spectrum, touring as a member of both The Shins and Vetiver while keeping up his own prolific project, Fruit Bats. Unlike the purposefully crude "anti-folk" kids of early '00s New York, Johnson never seemed to be fighting the boundaries of the past. Fruit Bats' prevailing style has been a common if nameless indie rock confluence that draws on elements of folk, country and psych rock. It's usually a lightly pretty, super comfy overlap that lands near Beck, if he were made to renounce his lingering funk allegiance. He's sometimes rocked more, as on 2009's The Ruminant Band, but the distance meant moving from the back porch to the back bar.

Johnson publicly pulled the plug to go solo in 2013. He went so far as to give some summation interviews to the press and play a string of farewell gigs, offering 2003's Mouthfuls front to back. That final curtain call wasn't even two years old when Johnson announced via Twitter he'd try Fruit Bats again. The nonchalance is appropriate, as there was never really a "seminal Fruit Bats lineup" to re-gather. And it's unlikely an extended hiatus would have created some groundswell of nostalgia to allow his entry to the festival-reunion-circuit gravy train. If Fruit Bats can still fill a few rooms, withholding seems arbitrary.

It's strange which styles come roaring back and which just linger on, hidden in plain sight. Why did the cheesier Yacht Rock stuff regain its cultural footing while James Taylor just sits there, continually and profoundly unhip? Sounds that turn jarring are the ones that earn fierce future allegiance. Aiming for a tasteful timelessness, as Johnson has done, will inoculate an artist from suffering dated wilderness years. It also makes an enthusiastic revival seem impossible, no matter the résumé. With Jake Xerxes Fussell. 9 p.m., $15, 506 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-942-5506, www.local506.com. —Jeff Klingman

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