Multi-instrumentalist Mike Doughty is on the final leg of his 25th anniversary tour for Ruby Vroom, which was the debut album of his former group, Soul Coughing. Since the band’s breakup in 2000, Doughty has worked hard making a name for himself as a solo artist, but still caters to the fans of his work from the 90’s. In fact, he has re-released many Soul Coughing tracks in new styles as part of his solo career.
Earlier in the year, Doughty was scheduled to play Ruby Vroom in its entirety at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon, however a snowstorm in the midwest forced a cancellation. The date was rescheduled for October 13th and sold out for a second time. He has also been playing acoustic pre-shows at the venues for early bird fans.
The small theater was filled even by the opening act, which was uproarious to say the least. Rachel Murdy, dressed as the “Ghost of Mr. Oberon” (a man in a suit and tie with aviator sunglasses and a pretentious presence similar to Tony Clifton), whimsically performed some of Soul Coughing’s hits from the alternate records like, “Rolling,” “Maybe I’ll Come Down,” and “Sleepless,” the latter of which had a lovely visual number involving a dancer and Mike Doughty’s touring cellist, Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, in a giant teddy bear mask. The opening act was all accompanied by stripped down synth versions of the song melodies, played by Mike’s touring keyboard player, Matthew Milligan of Wheatus.
Mike Doughty took the stage before the band and played some more simplified hits of his. Gradually he introduced the rest of the players and they jammed through the whole Ruby Vroom experience. Mike played the guitar once in a while, but mostly acted as a stand-alone singer and conductor of sorts, cueing the others with hand signals. When they reached the final tune, everyone turned their backs and waited for the crowd’s cheers in the vain of an encore. It was well worth the hype, when Mike reintroduced Rachel Murdy to the performance as the original singer on Ruby Vroom’s final track, “Janine.” When this was revealed, the crowd was awestruck and tears flowed as Rachel and Mike sang together, channeling 25 years of nostalgia.