or half a second, Adam Duritz is airborne — and then he comes down hard. It's early February, during the second song of a rare Counting Crows small-club show in New York, and a moment ago, Duritz was teetering on a monitor speaker at the edge of the stage. Now, he tumbles backward, dreadlocks flailing, and his head collides with a piano. It looks painful. But Duritz springs back up, not missing a note — though his voice seems to quaver even more than usual as he sings, "Have you seen me lately?"
Then he climbs up onto that same speaker, again and again, like a man who has everything to prove. And maybe he does. Duritz is all too aware that some people hate him. They say his voice is whiny. They say his dreads are fake (which they are). And they don't like his band, either. "For some reason, everyone decided we were a piece of ****," he says a few days after the concert, describing a low point a couple of years back. "So the only thing to do was to go out there and show we weren't."
It's easy to forget that before "Mr. Jones" became an unlikely folk-rock smash in 1994, at the height of grunge — helping sell 7 million copies of their debut, August and Everything After
— Counting Crows were critics' darlings, signed to DGC, the same hip, indie-style Geffen Records subsidiary that also signed Nirvana, Beck and Sonic Youth. But even as the Crows became a huge, consistently popular touring act, the perception of them turned around. "I do something that people really don't like," Duritz says, shrugging.