This may well be your last chance to see the Fruit Bats before the band ceases to be.
Thursday, Nov. 14. With the Donkeys. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org/neptune. 8 p.m. $16.50 adv./$18 DOS.
This is an unexpected development. The Fruit Bats appeared to be an unbreakable band. There could be no artistic differences, since the project’s existence has relied solely on the participation of principal member Eric D. Johnson, the Chicago native who has lead the folk-rock group through its many incarnations for 13 years. And yet, earlier this week, Johnson announced that he will be putting his band to rest. “There is no major dramatic reason,” the characteristically chill musician told Paste Magazine. “It’s been a long run and it’s time for change.”
It’s a death with dignity, then; the decision to move on is about Johnson’s career. A member of the musical middle class, the songwriter has been making a chunk of his living producing other artists—most recently Nina Persson of the Cardigans—and lending his breezy compositions to films, including the soundtrack for the Paul Rudd vehicle Our Idiot Brother. Without a band to keep up, the 37-year-old artist will be able to fully capitalize on those days spent in the studio and on the road, cultivating a distinctive sound and a loyal fan base. He is moving on, but not before giving us all a brief moment to look back.
The Fruit Bats’ current tour was already intended to be a bit of a nostalgia trip, as the band was scheduled to play its brilliant (and recently reissued) 2003 full-length Mouthfuls. But now it will be a proper wake, a celebration of a life well-lived that provided the folk boom of the ‘00s with a little levity and a handful of truly transcendent songs.
All that said, this really isn’t that big a deal. Johnson says he plans to continue recording and releasing music. He will even play Fruit Bats songs from time to time, but the band itself will soon be a memory. So here’s to good decisions. Here’s to the Fruit Bats. May they live on in our hearts, our minds, and our record collections.