Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas to Me (And You Too)!

So I got myself a little Christmas present, something I've been wanting for a while. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out.

I fell in love with this logo the minute I saw it on the temporary site back in the spring. I was actually almost late to work that day because I was trying desperately to figure out how to snag the image off the site and print it out. I was very pleased to see it turn up on all the crew badges on the fall tour.

I think the tattoo artist nearly had a heart attack when I showed him what I wanted. All those straight lines. But he did a really nice job with it and it only took about an hour and a half. Of course I am already plotting my next design.

I am extremely excited about the New Year's Eve shows on Thursday. I can't wait. A lot of my enjoyment of Christmas was lost thanks to work craziness, a really crappy schedule and a lot of ridiculous driving to get both my boyfriend in I home for Christmas day (one car - opposite directions). And the last few years my New Year's celebrations have been nonexistent, so I am really glad to be able to spend the day with some awesome TMBG peeps. We shall bond while waiting outside in the cold.

See ya'll on Thursday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bookstore Rock

December 2, 2009 - Border's Bookstore - Braintree, MA

Almost five years later, we returned to the site of my very first TMBG show for another in-store performance and signing. The last time I was at this Border's I was tagging along with friends. I was completely unfamiliar with the band, Istanbul was the only song they played that I recognized and I didn't know who the Johns were so I didn't get anything signed. Boy, how things have changed.

I have a pretty vivid imagination and I tend to spend too much time dreaming up in my head how things are going to go. Unfortunately, I think my experience at this show kind of suffered from that and I ended up being a little disappointed. Not by any fault of the band. The show was great. The Johns and Marty were really nice. I got my book signed. We got our picture taken. By all rights I should be ecstatic. Any disappointment on my part is with myself. I really wanted to come up with something meaningful to say to them. About what their music means to me. About what a huge part of my life the band has become. About how happy they make me. And I didn't say anything, except to spell my name for Flans and ask for a picture. I was totally intimidated by them and none of the words in my head seemed good enough. I also had something I really wanted to ask them but I lost my nerve.  And so I've been moping and mentally kicking myself instead of relishing what an awesome night it was. Maybe recaping it will help me with that.

We got to Borders at about 4:30 for the 6:00 show. We drove passed Flans on the sidewalk outside talking on his cell. There was a little stage already set up near the back of the store with a mini drum kit for Marty and Linnell's accordion on it. There was only one family and one lone guy waiting by the stage so we went to hang out with our friends who were already camped out in the cafe. We got to watch Linnell unsuccessfully attempt to enter the building via an emergency exit in the cafe.

About 20 minutes or so before the show we went over to the stage area. Most of the crowd was sitting on the floor so we stood in the back, figuring we'd have a better view over everyone's heads. Victor was puttering around the stage plugging things in and testing equipment. He seemed to be the only crew member they brought with them. The Borders staff had all the people sitting on the floor scoot forward so more people could sit down but we stayed standing. Right on time, I saw a Border's employee asking a man with a kid on his shoulders to step to the side and Flans, Linnell and Marty made their way onto the stage.

From my past experience at an in-store and what I have heard from others, I expected Flans to ask the adults without kids who were sitting by the stage to move further back so the kids could be at the front. Instead he said this was going to be a short show and asked everyone to stand up and hoist their kids on their shoulders if they wanted. So much for the better view. I briefly couldn't see anyone on stage at all, then when I moved a little I could at least see Linnell. Most of my view of the show was Linnell and the rear end of a little girl sitting on her dad's shoulders directly in my line of sight to Flans. I actually forgot Marty was there for a little while because I couldn't see him until Linnell stepped back to get his coffee.

Flans said this was their first attempt at a mixed age show and they did play a mix of kid and rock songs.
They started with Alphabet of Nations. The intro sounded so funny without the reverb and effects on the mics. The sound quality from the mics was terrible for the first song but it got better. I wasn't totally paying attention for part of the song because I was trying to find a place where I could see but I did enjoy hearing it on accordion rather than keyboard.

Flans talked about their new book and complimented Border's on their nice display. Someone next to the display stand held up a copy. Flans said they were going to play the song twice and that their performance would improve by the second playing. They joked that they were going to play it in different musical styles throughout the show. They also commented on the name of the book not being anywhere in the song and said that for the longest time their publisher thought the title was Go, Kids Go. They also talked about Bed, Bed, Bed and Flans said that the DVD from that book was apparently the most stolen item from some bookstore they had played in because you could easily take the DVD without anyone noticing. This led into a discussion of how the contents of the DVD would be what you were stealing if you downloaded the music online so it was really the same thing and eventually got into comments about stealing the new book. Flans did ask everyone to please pay for their copy though, I am sure, much to the Border's staff's relief. When they finally started the song, Flans used a very silly, extra deep voice for the beginning. I was pleased that they had learned the entire song by now since the last mention of it I had heard was that had played a 45 second version because they hadn't learned the rest. The first playing was good but the second was WAY better.

Next they played The Mesopotamians which, we discovered is not entirely child appropriate. The word "damn" is in the lyrics which I had never really thought about before. Nobody around us seemed to mind but I'm sure somewhere in the crowd there was at least one annoyed parent. It was odd enough hearing the song with accordion rather than keyboard but what I found even odder was the lack of Dan Miller's vocals. Don't get me wrong, it still sounded great and Flans really held up his end covering for both guitar parts but I hadn't realized before how much Dan fills out the background vocals. Apparently Flans was missing him as well, because after the song he commented that he didn't know when to start singing because he always looked at Dan on stage and just started singing whenever he did. Heehee. Doesn't he know you're not supposed to admit that sort of thing? :-)

Flans then started his pre-Pirate Girls counting lesson. He did the whole bit, asking everyone if they could count to 10 then saying that this was easier because they only had to count to nine. The first time he tried to get the audience to do it with him almost no one did. The second time he got everyone but most of the people around us counted all the way to ten. He had us do it one more time to improve our speed before introducing the song. "This song is about three things. It's about pirates. Arrrrrrrrrrrr. It's about girls. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. And it's about the number nine. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." I think we, as an audience, did pretty well with our audience participation. And I didn't hear anyone say ten during the song.

"This next song is about a worm who thinks he's a doctor." Doctor Worm was the first They Might Be Giants song I really retained and liked and I first heard it at this very same Borders. It was like a little mini-anniversary performance for me. And a pretty rockin' one at that!

Clap Your Hands was pretty amusing in a bookstore. You usually think of bookstores as being rather quiet places and here are a hundred or so people clapping and stomping and jumping up and down. There was probably at least one person in the store who just came in to read and was shocked and disturbed to walk into a rock concert. The best part for me was that Flans mixed up which bookstore he was in and yelled "Barnes & Noble, clap your hands" in the middle of the song. Bet the Border's staff loved that.

Linnell did a fantastic intro to Istanbul on the accordion. I wish he would do that at one of the rock shows. I don't feel like I get to appreciate his accordion skills enough and the little bit of improv was the perfect outlet. Flans mixed in a little guitar strumming too. It was a little more obvious what they were starting to play than it usually is but I think plenty of folks in the crowd were still surprised. For me, it was like a little window in time showing what a show must have been like in their early days (substituting Marty for the drum machine of course). If anyone ever invents a time machine you will find me back in some little club at a TMBG show circa 1985.

Flans made some stage announcements about the signing before the last song. He said they would sign until the very last person got through the line so if anyone didn't want to wait or really needed to take a little one to the bathroom they could come back in a little bit and they would still be there. He even said we could go get dinner and come back and they would still be there. (I don't think that was quite true since they got through the line relatively fast and bolted immediately. I wonder if anyone came back after they were gone and was sad?) He also asked that any of the fans with 25 items to sign please stand at the end of the line so that people who have only limited interest in the band can get a book signed and drive away first. Those weren't the exact words which is too bad because his phrasing was funnier. There was also a little kid holding up a sign while Flans was talking that Flans read to the crowd. It said "You are my second favorite band" on one side and "The Beatles are my favorite" on the other. Flans told the kid The Beatles were his favorite too.

As they were leading into the second round of Get Up and Go, Linnell suggested that they play it in the style of The Pixies with some parts really loud and some parts really soft. Flans asked which parts were going to be loud and which were going to be soft and Linnell said something like "I don't know, we'll see." Flans had this momentary look of consternation on his face then asked if they were starting loud or soft. They decided on loud and that they would follow Marty for when to switch. And they started LOUD. With Flans doing to silly voice again. Then when Linnell came in on the verse he was very quiet and smirking while he was singing. And they kept switching back and forth throughout the song. Linnell kept making himself almost laugh trying to be quiet. It was awesome! I can't imagine I will ever hear a better performance of the song.

There was kind of a confusing crush towards the line after the song. We managed to get somewhere in the middle. It didn't take more than fifteen minutes to get to the front of the line. They were booking it through the signing with Flans urging people forward and keeping the line moving. Both of our friends were ahead of us and posed for pictures with Flans and Linnell. Then it was our turn. My boyfriend had brought his Bed, Bed, Bed and a copy of Kids Go! and his Hello Recording club version of the '85 demo tape. Flans asked his name first, then asked him how old he was so he could fill in the "age" line in the "this book belongs to" page of Bed. Flans signed his name with his age as well, then passed it down to Linnell. He did the other book, then took Kids Go. He asked my name and if I used the traditional spelling. I spelled it for him since I wasn't sure what he considered to be the traditional spelling. Then he took the demo tape with a little "woah" and made a comment about how old it was. I asked if we could have a picture. We got to go behind the table and stand between the Johns. Linnell asked for a count off so we'd know when the picture was taken. 1-2-3. Click. And that was pretty much that. I collected my book from Marty at the end of the table. Smiled at him while trying to shove everything back into my bag. Not even sure I said thank you. I hope I did. We hung around to watch the rest of the signing while I tried to get up the nerve to go back and ask them my question at the end. But I chickened out and they were too fast getting up and fleeing after the last person in line was through anyway.

So, excellent little show. I have a lovely signed book and a cute picture that may or may not end up being my Christmas card this year. And, with a little time, I will hopefully stop thinking about all the things I didn't say. Hopefully, it wont be my last opportunity to meet them.

Must admit too that I am pretty bummed I decided not to go to the NYC in-store. I could have. I considered it. I wanted to. But my boyfriend couldn't go and I didn't want to go alone. And of course they played an awesome setlist. Just one more thing I can kick myself over.

Next shows are New Years Eve. They'll be like my reward for surviving another holiday season in retail. Then we will see what 2010 holds.

Pictures are up on Flickr as usual.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Night At The Casino

First I must share my TMBG related geek-out from earlier today. I finally got around to watching this week's episode of CSI:NY this afternoon and was extremely excited that the show opened with Mac collecting evidence at the old World's Fair Grounds in the exact spot where the Don't Let's Start video was filmed. He was using paint from the New York map to track a serial killer and all I could picture was the guys sliding around on their backs over that map. I know. I'm a dork.

Also, I finally remembered to go back and track down Astronomy magazine's video interview with Linnell that they did while the band was in Madison in October. It's got some great insights on the creation of Here Comes Science. The interview is in five parts and can be viewed here if you are interested.

And now the show recap...

November 27, 2009 - Wolf Den - Mohegan Sun - Fourth Annual Audience Appreciation Show

I feel a little silly doing a recap for this show given that more than half of the known readers of this blog were at the show with me. But hopefully that means they can fill in any details that I forget :-)

Shows at Mohegan always involve a greater than average amount of line standing since they are first come first served and I was a little concerned that we couldn't get there until 4:00 because I had to work in the morning. Fortunately we were meeting friends who were able to get there much earlier and saved us places in line. My boyfriend and I brought a friend from work with us who had never been to a TMBG show before. I have found I enjoy being at shows with newbies because it gives me the opportunity to see the band through new eyes.

Doors were at 6:30 and the show didn't start until 8:00 so we had lots of time to hang with our friends. We also got to watch lots of comings and goings on stage. It's probably kind of silly how happy it makes me even just seeing Iggy and Victor and Will and Scott wandering around plugging things in and adjusting lights. Marty was on stage for a while putting together his drum kit. I saw all the Velcro Horns come in the entrance past us with horns in tow. Boy, have I missed those guys. Ralph was great but it's like going on vacation. It's fun while it lasts but you're happy to be home. It was obvious the band and the crew have missed them too as there was lots of hugging and back patting.

The band started to wander around getting ready for sound check. All the guys were hanging around chatting for a bit, then started wandering off around the room to tune their instruments. Linnell was sitting at one of the tables, tuning his clarinet and fiddling around with a little tune. Which I later realized was odd since he didn't use it in the show. Dan played some sounds on his keyboard which were LOUD. Kind of freakishly loud. Eventually, they all made it onto the stage and each started playing different riffs to check the sound. Linnell banged out the keyboard part from Withered Hope which is probably my single favorite musical phrase in all of TMBG's repertoire. I got excited when both Dan and Linnell played little bits of Au Contraire but they didn't play it at the show. Maybe someday. They did play through all of Withered Hope. God, that song sounds good with the horns! Linnell mumbled his way through the second verse, forgetting most of the lyrics. But hey, that's what sound check is for, right?

They only did the one song then headed back stage. A bunch of the guys headed out into the casino past us, presumably in search of food. I very nearly jumped out of my skin when Danny noticed me and smiled. I'm very much torn between being extremely excited that he recognizes me now and totally embarrassed that I can no longer blend in with all of the anonymous fans. Of course, if I really wanted to remain anonymous this blog is probably a bad idea :-P And he was wearing his red pants! Happy fangirl!

When doors opened we were seated at a table in the front row towards the right side of the stage, right in front of Flans and Dan's mics. We immediately went to check out the new t-shirt that had turned up at the merch stand. I snatched one up immediately because it turned out to be a Fall Tour 2009 shirt. That's our tour! It has all the tour dates on the back and everything. The front says "Home Taping Is Killing Music And It's Illegal" with a picture of a cassette tape with cross bones under it. My friends thought it was kinda of a downer message but I think it's kind of retro and I'm somewhat of a copyright advocate anyway.

I was expecting pretty much the same Flood show we saw multiple times in October but they changed up the setlist order enough to keep it interesting. Not only did they not start with Meet the Elements, they didn't play any songs of of HCS at all.

Setlist: Clap Your Hands - Theme From Flood - Birdhouse in Your Soul - Lucky Ball & Chain - Twisting - Dead - We Want a Rock - Someone Keeps Moving My Chair - Hot Cha - Shoehorn With Teeth - Hearing Aid - Minimum Wage - Sapphire Bullets - James K. Polk - Women and Men - Whistling in the Dark - Your Racist Friend - In the Middle - Particle Man - Istanbul - They Might Be Giants - Road Movie to Berlin  Encore - Museum of Idiots - Doctor Worm

We got to start the show standing up with Clap Your Hands. It was really hard to jump up and down between the chairs without hitting them. I kept losing my balance. In hind sight we probably could have gotten away with standing for the whole show without people getting too irritated. There were a number of other people standing in various spots around the room. But we opted to remain on the good side of the people seated behind us and sit down. I didn't mind much at all except it was weird to be seated for Birdhouse. Had to bounce in my seat.

The whole band was in such a good mood. I can't remember the last time I saw them all smiling so much during a show. They were being pretty goofy on stage. At one point after making an especially ridiculous comment Flans asked Linnell if he had been drinking. Linnell's reply? "Have you NOT been drinking?" Flans said he hasn't gotten the memo. Linnell also did some good wolf howling at the begining of the show.

Flans started by saying they were playing Flood but not in sequence so not to worry if they skipped something because they'd get to it eventually. And if they missed something we could tell them via their website, They had a bit of a running joke where they'd go to introduce a song making it sound like it was going to be from another album and then it would be another Flood song.

Someone on TMBW was commenting on Dan and Danny having a conversation on stage during Lucky Ball & Chain but they were trying to sort out some sort of sound problem. But Dan couldn't hear what Danny was saying so he kept having to repeat it until Dan eventually took his in-ear monitor out. It may have actually been the monitors they were having trouble with. They got Will involved after the song and apparently got it sorted out.

There were a few other amusing technical issues. Marty needed to fix something on his snare drum at some point and took it off the stand so he was holding it in his lap. Flans told him to give a signal when he was ready to go. Then they started making jokes about how Marty holding the snare drum was a sign.  A sign that the snare drum was broken. Linnell said that it was a signal, like in baseball. "When the catcher is holding the snare drum, it means the snare drum is broken."

Before Hot Cha, Flans said that his brother always thought the song was about their family but since his brother was not here he felt comfortable in saying that it definitely is not.

The other technical problem was discovered as the Avatars were coming on when Marty realized his drum pad next to the electronic kit hadn't been hooked up. Will had to do some running around to get it going before it was needed.

The Avatars were projected onto the giant screen behind the stage that the Wolf Den uses to show wolf footage, rather than on their usual pull down screen. There was some momentary static in the feed and the puppets began talking as if their voices were coming through the screen and you could only hear every other syllable. Very silly. They did their usual schtick about the Avatar movie. One of my friends who is a very casual TMBG fan asked me the other day if the band was actually doing the soundtrack for the movie because she got confused by stuff she had been reading online. It was a combination of sad and funny. I think I spent more time watching Marty do his highly studied bell playing than watching the puppets during Shoehorn. I find it funny that even when he is standing still with his eyes closed waiting for his moment he still can't keep from bopping his head. He just never stops moving.

Dan forgot to come out and play on Polk. He apparently got used to Ralph doing the solo and not having to play. He had gone back stage and Danny had to point out to Flans that he wasn't there after the song started and Flans went back to get him. He got situated just in time for the solo looking a little sheepish.

After James K. Polk, Linnell asked Flans if he had seen the recent book review in the NY Times about the new Polk biography (he had). The lyrics of the song were referenced in the introduction to the review. Linnell said that though he was flattered, he was kind of bemused that the most positive thing the article said about the song was that it was "accurate." Flans had a good time making jokes about that. If you missed the book review, here is the link. It had actually turned up in one of my Google Alerts a few weeks ago.

While talking about the EP that Polk originally appeared on, Flan gave a pretty good description of the purpose of those EPs. He was reminiscing about the indie radio stations that used to receive the EPs to drum up interest for the album. Then Linnell started reminiscing about the money that the EPs used to make. That was about when Flans asked him if he'd been drinking.

Flans commented on the lovely C note playing out in the casino. Fortunately the band mostly drowned it out. Linnell also pointed out the carved wolves perched on the tops of all the pillars around the club which he was noticing for the first time.

They did a second Avatars segment which was even better than the first. I was particularly amused when  Linnell needed to cross the stage to say something to Dan and he took the puppet off so that the audience couldn't see that he was operated by a human. Heehee. Flans kept dropping his arm backwards so that it looked like his puppet was tipping over backwards on the screen. And they did In the Middle which I had never heard before. Yay!!

Linnell stuck Dolly Parton into Particle Man, my personal favorite add on.

Dan Levine and Stan did the intro to Istanbul and a fabulous one it was. Danny and the Johns were obviously enjoying it too because they were standing around the sides of the stage grinning. Flans in particular looked like he was watching his favorite band in concert. He was beaming. I wish I would have gotten pictures of them but it was much too dark.

When Linnell picked up the accordion for the encore I briefly thought they might play Subliminal which I have been very sad to miss at several recent shows, but was just as pleased to hear Museum of Idiots. Unrehearsed, as Linnell said.

I spent half of the band intros trying to get a good picture of Danny (and his red pants). I couldn't see him for most of the show and when I could, it wasn't a good view. I was so sad that he never wore the pants at any of the shows on our road trip. Please, don't ask me to explain why I love those pants so much because I can't. It's just one of those things.

They closed with Doctor Worm, a required tune with the horns. It was kind of funny that they did Museum of Idiots and Doctor Worm for the encore because those were my first two favorite TMBG songs before I was ever a real fan of the band.

The show was far too short. It was over by 9:30. There wasn't even a second encore. But it was awesome enough to make up for the shortness. The boyfriend got a setlist from Victor after the show. Hopefully their wordless bonding will last and he'll keep hooking us up.

Coming out of the Wolf Den, we were ambushed by some old friends of my boyfriend, including the friend he went to his very first TMBG show with 17 years ago. We parted ways with our other friends who all had long drives and went off to one of Mohegan's bars so he could reconnect with his friends for a bit. On our way out we passed Flansburgh in the hall. He was sporting one of the new TMBG 8-Bit Rock tote bags that a couple of my friends had picked up at the merch stand. But he seemed to be in a hurry.

I am very much looking forward to my next show, the in-store and signing at the Borders in Braintree, MA on Wednesday. That is where I saw They Might Be Giants for the very first time, almost five years ago. A lot has changed for me since then, but then again, a lot is still the same. I thought I was going to be pretty cool, but as it gets closer I'm actually really nervous about the signing. My usual strategy when seeking autographs is to say hi at the start and thank you at the end and that is that. But I feel like I really should say something to the Johns considering what a huge part of my life they've been the last year. But I have no idea what to say. I feel like it should be something more meaningful that just thank you. Oh well, I've got the better part of four days to figure it out. Suggestions welcome.

Pictures from the show are up on Flickr. There are some good Flansburgh shots and some funny Linnell expressions.

Monday, November 16, 2009

News From The World

Spent most of today very confused about when TMBG were actually appearing on Craig Ferguson. I had originally heard today, then figured out that it was probably just taping today and airing later. Then the band said tomorrow on Facebook but Marty said tonight on Twitter and it turns out they were pre-taping all along. Their segment wont air until sometime around Thanksgiving, but we do get the bonus of John Hodgman appearing with them. Marty has posted some amusing photos from their visit to the studio here, on his new website. I really like Dan's facial expression in the group shot.

To provide some opinions other than my own about Kids Go! here are two reviews of the book that came in today.

Publisher's Weekly


Really looking forward to the Mohegan Sun show next week, even though it is going to be yet another Flood show. Maybe my 10th time is when they decide to play the whole thing backwards? It appears they will have the Velcro Horns back with them which I really am excited about. I've missed those guys.

Kids' Go!

This is way overdue, given that the book has been out for almost two weeks but I've been in such a funk the last few weeks that I have completely lacked motivation to blog. So, here is my review of Kid's Go! I should preface by saying that not only is this review coming from a fan of the band who has a hard time being truly critical of any of their work, I also have a strong background in children's literature. So this review is partly my own opinion and partly based on what I've learned from many years of reading, studying and selling children's books.

First off, I must express my frustration in actually acquiring the book. I work at a major chain bookstore and out of loyalty, chose to order the book at work rather than from Amazon. Given past experiences with ordering new releases I assumed I'd get the book about the same time anyway. Boy, was I wrong. People started reporting receipt of their Amazon copies on Tuesday and Wednesday of the week prior to release. Everyday, when I got to work I anxiously checked to see if my order had arrived only to discover that it had not. By the time Friday rolled around with no book, I was majorly disappointed. Especially, when I discovered that our stores as far east as Connecticut has received it early, but Massachusetts did not. By the time it finally came in on Monday I felt like I had used up a lot of my excitement waiting for it the previous week.

As for the book itself, I really like it. I don't love it, but I really like it. It's a cute, lively song accompanied by bright, humorous illustrations. I am a big fan of the work Pascal Campion has done for They Might Be Giants. I do, after all, have some of his art tattooed onto my back. If you look at his work, either on his website or even just what he has done with TMBG, he appears to have two different styles that he works in. In one, as can be seen in Nine Bowls of Soup and Photosynthesis, the figures are much more defined, the backgrounds are more detailed and the color pallet is broader. This is the segment of his art that I tend to prefer, but is not the one used in Kid's Go!. The style in the book is much more similar to that of One Dozen Monkeys. The figures are more abstract with less clearly defined outlines, the backgrounds are much less detailed and only four or five colors are used. (Mind you, there is a lot of his work that mixes the two styles as well; 813 Mile Car Trip comes to mind. It is really more of a sliding scale between the two styles with some work closer to one end or the other.)

This is not to say that I don't like the illustrations, because I do. I particularly like the monkeys. They are made to have such expressive faces using very little detail which I really enjoy. I am not as crazy about the style that the children are drawn in. Having seen some of his other drawings of people I wish he had chosen a less abstract style for the kids. But the art works as a whole. The story is really told more with the pictures than with the words. This seems really fitting for a TMBG book, given their dislike of portraying their lyrics literally in their videos. The illustrations only need to match up with some key phrases in the lyrics like "get up off your chair" and "jumping like a jack-in-the-box." Otherwise, the words are just a jumping off point for a jungle adventure with monkeys.

The video is a great bonus. It's different enough from the book that you don't feel like you are just watching the illustrations in motion but follows the same theme and story line so that it works as a sing along from the book. I don't think it is so much intended to be watched while you follow along in the book but rather to be watched after reading the book so that kids have an opportunity to dance.

A lot of the fan response to the book that I have read has been pretty negative. I am not looking to start any arguments but I have to disagree with some of the complaints that have been made against it. I think many fans are comparing it to Bed Bed Bed rather than comparing it to other similar children's books. As such, they are disappointed that it only has one song in both the book and the DVD. I shared in some initial disappointment in realizing that it was just going to be the one song, but I also realized it quite a while before I got the book. It seems like a few fans were expecting more right up until they opened the book and since I don't think the info from the publisher ever indicated it was anything more than the one song, I can only assume that they were expecting it to be just like the last book. I love the songs in Bed Bed Bed but am not crazy about the pictures at all. I find some of them a bit creepy for a kid's book, whereas I think the silly monkeys of Kids Go! are much more kid friendly. So do I wish that this book had more music? Yes. Do I dislike the book because it doesn't? No. I also don't really prefer one book over the other. They've both got aspects I like and dislike.

If you compare Kids Go! to other children's picture books, particularly ones illustrating lyrics from a song, it is very typical. We have dozens of picture books on the shelves in our children's department that illustrate one song and come with a CD of just that one song. Several John Denver songs, including Grandma's Feather Bed, have recently been given that treatment. Last year we got a lovely version of Puff the Magic Dragon. Tom Paxton just did a wonderfully illustrated version of the Marvelous Toy. My point being, that a picture book of this nature doesn't have to have more than one song in order to be a great book. I think we all just got spoiled by Bed Bed Bed.

I think the most important thing to remember in looking at the book is that, if you are over the age of six, you are not the intended audience for the book. I kind of feel like Bed Bed Bed is one of those picture books that parents think is great but kids aren't quite as drawn to. (That being said I have read stories from multiple parents whose young children love the book so that is certainly not universally true.) Kids Go! on the other hand has a lot more kid appeal. The colors are brighter. The monkeys are funny and cute and let's face it, kids just love monkeys. The music on the DVD is lively and bouncy and fun for kids to dance to. But most importantly (and I think this really IS the point), the book is interactive. Kids love stories with "audience participation" (think Going On A Bear Hunt) and this book is really encouraging them to dance like a money while they listen to the story or watch the DVD. We got a book in at work a few months ago about making scary faces where the kids reading are supposed to make the faces as they go along. One of our employees begged our story reader to read it at story time. He didn't think it would go over well but the kids loved it because they got to participate in the story. I'd love to see what would happen if we did Kids Go! at story time.

Lastly, the illustrations are filled with imagination. Children love books where they can interpret the story from the pictures rather than having it told to them. Wordless books or books with very few words are very popular for just that reason. The song lyrics leave the story vague enough that a child can make up his or her own mind about just how the kids end up in the jungle and how that monkey got in an airplane. Or the kids can just listen to the song and dance like a monkey. Actually, adults can too. So, go pop in that DVD and show me your best monkey moves!

P.S. My very favorite part of the book? The page that says "(dance brake!)". That little dash of humor, for me, is what makes it quintessentially, TMBG.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random Story of the Day

I was on Facebook today reading my news feed when the TMBG page posted a new link to one of the Venue Song videos with a note about the second leg of the tour. Naturally, I immediately hit the "like" button. Ten seconds later I get the notification "They Might Be Giants commented on their link." "Thats weird, they must have needed to clarify something or correct a typo in the comments," I think. I click on the notification. Nope. Turns out who ever does those status updates has decided to thank me, by name, for "liking" the link. Even though I know it is as likely to be one of their publicity people as it is to be a member of the band, this still makes me happy for the rest of the day. Yes, I am just that much of a dork.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The End of the Tour

October 18, 2009 - The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU - New York, NY - Family Show

Last stop on our incredible road trip. Seemed appropriate that we followed the band back home. We got to the Skirball Center about two hours early because we didn't have anything else to do. Ran into another fan that I know from TMBW and have seen at previous shows and hung out in a Dunkin Donuts for a while to escape the cold. We only had to wait outside the actual venue for about ten minutes before the lobby opened and we were able to wait inside for the last 10-15 minutes before they opened the theater. We saw Flans in the lobby coming to find Scott and got to watch him try to figure out how to get into the office area behind the box office.

We had front row seats on the right hand side and were pretty much the first people in the auditorium. We got to watch all the comings and goings in the auditorium and on stage while we waited for the show to start. Saw lots of other fans I know by sight from other shows. Saw Jamie Kitman coming out from backstage and mingling around the auditorium. Got to watch Iggy hanging the plastic birds all over the lighting towers. He clambered up them like a monkey with a lot more confidence than I would have had.  Spent the last few minutes before the show started watching the theater completely fail to find seating for some of the band's family. Really wanted to offer them ours since we could have stood and there were free seats off to our right anyway but they were all they way on the other side of the auditorium.

The setlist was a little different from the previous family shows though they were still using the Vic setlist with scribble marks all over it (we didn't get one but we could clearly see Dan's when we were standing).

I Never Go To Work - Clap Your Hands - 813 Mile Car Trip - Where Do They Make Balloons? - WDTSS - Pirate Girls Nine - Bed, Bed, Bed - The Famous Polka - Roy G. Biv - Alphabet Lost and Found - Older - Fibber Island - Zilch - Particle Man - Shooting Star - My Brother the Ape - Alphabet of Nations - I Am A Paleontologist - Seven - Doctor Worm  Encore - Meet the Elements - Istanbul

Flans made several jokes about the name of the venue. He was speculating on whether there was a Mr. Skirball or if the word had some other origin. They decided that it sounded like an old type of ball game and Linnell suggested that the venue had been built on an old skirball playing field. Flans apologized to Mr. Skirball several times during the show mostly for getting confetti all over his theater but I think there was something else too.

Flans also made several references to the number of members of the Weinkauf family who were in the audience, having all come out to see Danny play. The best was when he included Weinkaufs in a list of people he was addressing in the audience. It was something like "Weinkaufs, parents, kids" but the words aren't right.

Linnell stuck with the real words on WDTSS except for shouting "BRAINS" as the last nuclear reaction. Glad to see that joke made it though the entire tour :-)

When instructing everyone on how to count before Pirate Girls, Flans said that the people in other areas of the country they had visited had had trouble getting to ten, but the good news was we only needed to go to nine.

Flans grabbed Marty's horn during Bed, Bed, Bed and was honking it behind his back again. He didn't bring it back out to the mic though which I was hoping he would so I could get a picture.

The Famous Polka is apparently called The Famous Polka because it is the only one they know.

During Roy G. Biv, Ralph was playing his fruit shaped maracas at the back of the stage. One is an orange and the other is a banana and he was wearing a bright green shirt. So when Flans sang the "O is for orange" line, he shook the orange maraca. "Y is for yellow," he shook the banana maraca. "G is for green," he pointed to his shirt. He caught me laughing at him doing this and proceeded to shake his banana maraca at me which only made me laugh more. Oh, I will miss him if he doesn't tour with them again.

Flans made the Color Me Sync'd joke about Marty before Alphabet Lost and Found again.

The puppet segment seemed to be pretty short compared to other shows. They talked about the coffee cup and the Avatar album again. After the puppet segment they made a joke that they have made numerous times before but I don't think I have mentioned yet. They claimed that the puppets eat all of their snacks backstage during the show, which is odd because, you know, they're puppets. Maybe some puppet video will turn up from this show since I saw several people with cameras.

On the intro to Alphabet of Nations, instead of just doing random reverbs of the title, Linnell was trying to mimic everything that Flans said. So when Flans said The, Linnell said The. You get the idea. I think Flans was trying to trip him up a little at the end. Really, really excellent Guatemala. Toss up whether this show or the Kutztown one had the best.

Flans asked us all to stand up and pretend we were about to hear our favorite song before Paleontologist. I wanted to shout out "But it IS my favorite song!" Linnell used totally new dinosaurs for his bit.

Flans had some really great facial expressions during Seven. He looked like he was really into it.

The band intros were pretty short solos except for Danny and Marty and even those were shorter than usual. I wonder if Dan ever minds not getting featured with a special "bit" in the intros. He gets more solos during the shows than the other guys so maybe they figure that it evens out.

Flans told the parents to remember the Meet the Elements song when their kids got older because it would really help them in high school. He made some sort of joke that I couldn't hear which prompted Linnell to begin reciting some elements. Barium seemed to be particularly funny but I missed why.

They finished it all off with Istanbul and Ralph on the ground and confetti flying through the air and me suddenly very sad that the tour was over.

We tried to get a setlist afterwards but Victor took most of them backstage and didn't bring them back. I spotted Dan talking to some friends over near where we had been sitting and fought my way back across the crowd to try to get him to sign our CD. I was trying to be polite and wait until a break in his conversation when I heard him say "let's go back stage" and they all got up to walk through a side door. I called after him, feeling like a total dork, and one of his friends heard me and got his attention for me and he very kindly came back down and signed our CD. I told him his was the last signature we needed then immediately regretted it because I was afraid that sounded like his was the one we wanted least, and not just that he was the last person we had found. He was very nice though and didn't seem to mind me bothering him. Man, I need to work on not being so nervous when I try to talk to the guys though. I think my face turns scarlet and I either say nothing at all or something stupid, when I want to say something meaningful that will convey how fabulous I think they are.

So, that is the end of the tour. The band takes a couple of weeks off before heading to the West Coast and we head back to work and our normal, mundane lives. I am really regretting not planning to go to the charity show in Brooklyn next week, but I honestly thought I would have had enough by now. Soooo no true and it's too late to get the time off from work now. So we will be at Mohegan Sun after Thanksgiving and the in-store in Braintree in December. And I am totally stoked about New Year's Eve in Northampton. Then we will see what 2010 holds. I am really hoping the band tours again for the new album that should be out at some point, hopefully to a different area of the country so we can tag along again. My vote is for the South this time so it will be warmer but really, I'll go anywhere.

As for the blog, I will go back and write-up the last five shows from before the road trip that I never got around to, then I have some other ideas that I will play around with after that. Expect to hear lots about Kid's Go as I work in a bookstore so the book is a big deal for me.  Also I'll have the last of the pictures up on Flickr by tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nearly Home

October 17, 2009 - Schaeffer Auditorium - Kutztown University - Kutztown, PA

Two shows today including the last rock show of the trip. This write-up is pretty short because my memory is shot. We drove in from Pittsburgh in the morning and since we were camping the last night I wanted to get our tent set up before going to the shows so we wouldn't be setting up in the dark. Our campground was in the middle of nowhere and I didn't time things well. As such, we got to Kutztown University with only minutes to spare and the only reason we didn't miss the beginning of the show was that they started a few minutes late. Never thought I would say this, but thank goodness it was an assigned seat show or we would have been all the way in the back. The band was coming on as we were finding our seats. This was a bit of a production as the family next to us had sat one seat too far to the right and had to move down. Of course we felt a little silly about making them move when we abandoned our seats for the stage after the first song.

Setlist: I Never Go To Work - Clap Your Hands - Famous Polka - Paleontologist - WDTSS - Pirate Girls Nine - Bed - Roy G. Biv - Alphabet Lost and Found - Fibber Island - Zilch - Shooting Star - My Brother the Ape - Alphabet of Nations - Older - Where Do They Make Balloons? - Seven - Doctor Worm  Encore - Meet the Elements - Istanbul

The family show was very similar to the Chicago, Madison and AMNH shows. The setlist was pretty much the same and even several of the bits of banter were repeated.

We were next to the speaker on the left side of the stage for all but the first song and the mix of sound coming out of the speaker was not evenly distributed for the first few songs. I could very clearly hear every accordion note from the Famous Polka but could barely hear the guitar. On that song it was actually kind of cool, almost like hearing the accordion part on it's own. It did get evened out eventually, either that or I got used to it.

There was a row of speakers in front of the stage and initially the kids were lined up behind them but it didn't take too long before they climbed on top of them. The kids got really bold and were leaning on to the stage and eventually there were a few actually sitting on the front of the stage. There was a big carved wood ledge around the stage that they were perched on. The band didn't seem to care. In fact, I think they loved it. All the guys were in such a happy, silly mood, probably because they were so close to home.

When Linnell went to pick up his accordion for the first time he discovered that the cord had been wrapped into the canvas that goes around the bottom of the platform at the back of the stage. He held it out to show Dan who thought it was kind of funny (so did Linnell I think) and then had to pull enough cord out to be able to take it to the front of the stage.

Linnell has started playing around with the dinosaurs he uses for Paleontologist on this tour. I don't know dinosaurs well enough to remember all the ones he has used but by the time he got to this show he wasn't using any of the ones from the recording. Trilobite has been a favorite. At one of the last shows, I think it was this one, he followed it with something like "what are those things anyway?"

For WDTSS the nuclear reactions were caused by penicillin, erythromycin, vancomycin (not positive about this one) and over the counter cold medicine. After the songs he told the kids that he was making it up and all the stuff about the antibiotics wasn't true.

Before Bed, Bed, Bed, Linnell said that they had been on tour all week and he hadn't slept in six days so he was going to bed. Then he pretended he was getting a message through his ear monitor telling him that he couldn't go to bed yet so decided to sing about going to bed instead.

One of the noise makers Marty uses for Bed is a round bicycle style horn. After he put it down, Flans walked over behind him and started honking it behind Marty's back in one of the sections of the song that doesn't have sound effects. Then a minute later Flans walked back over and picked up the horn again and hung it over the neck of his guitar to take it back to his mic to honk at the end of the song. Oh, you can tell these guys are getting loopy as they reach the end of this trip. I love it!

The puppets mostly focused on their fake Avatars album and the coffee cup hat. At the end of Shooting Star after the ad-libbing about Earth not answering the meteor's call, Flans made an explosion sound as the meteor hit ground.

They had the confetti blizzard set up at the back of the room again and Flans attempted to give the operator a warning signal in Older but it was misinterpreted and the blizzard started too early. It made for an awkward moment later in the song when the canon was supposed to go off and there wasn't much confetti left to blow. It was funny but kind of spoiled the impact of the confetti. I don't think the kids cared.

Before starting Balloons, Danny said "I don't know what you guys put in the water around here but you sure have some cute kids." By this point there were several seated on the edge of the stage and tons perched on the speakers and I think Danny was having fun watching them boogie and play with the confetti.

Flans started to do one of the "We Want Cake" cries at the wrong point in Seven, making everyone laugh and making me start to do it at the wrong time too. Doh!

That is pretty much all I remember from the family show that wasn't repeated from another show. It was a really fun show despite my brief description.

We wandered downtown between shows in search of Chinese food. Kutztown is the epitome of a small college town. Lots of bars, lots of pizza, lots of college students. The rock show was listed as starting at 7:30 instead of 8:00. TMBG still didn't go on until 9:00 but the upshot was that Guggenheim went on early and got to do a longer set than usual. I particularly appreciated this since this was their last show of the tour for me. They did the new song Wisdom, plus a song I hadn't heard before and their second ukulele song that they had dropped from the set when they started doing Wisdom. I'm gonna miss these guys. I hope they tour with TMBG again sometime. Ironically, I discovered yesterday that they were playing in Cambridge last night, only a half hour from me, at a club I have been to numerous times but I had to work. I can manage to see them halfway across the country but not 20 miles from home. Oh well.

The TMBG setlist: Meet the Elements - New York City - Ana Ng - My Brother the Ape - Twisting - Doctor Worm - Birdhouse - Clap Your Hands - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Seven - Hearing Aid - Polk - Science Is Real - Paleontologist - Dead - Spider - Don't Let's Start - Shooting Star - Shoehorn - Cowtown - Istanbul  Encore - We Live in a Dump - Mesopotamians  Encore 2 - Drink - Alphabet of Nations - Damn Good Times

I am afraid in all the shows I went to in the last few weeks my brain has overloaded and I remember hardly any specifics of this one. If any more of it comes back to me later I'll add some post scripts. There was a woman standing next to me who was singing so loudly and so badly throughout the entire show that at times I was very tempted to turn around and tell her to shut up. Why do people not understand? If the people around you can hear you "singing" over the sound of the blasting rock band, you are too loud! I was thrilled when they started We Live In A Dump and she didn't know the words. Hurrah!

There was more confetti canon trouble. There was no one manning the blizzard canon during Istanbul so it couldn't be set off. Flans cut the song short without doing the second ending, I think because he was annoyed. When they went to set it off during Damn Good Times not only was there someone to operate it, Scott also appeared as a back-up. Me thinks, perhaps, some words were exchanged backstage before the encore.

There was a girl on the opposite side of the stage from me who yelled at Flans at the beginning of the show that this was her 30th show. Flans said something back to her about the previous 29 but I didn't hear what he said. She got thanked at the end when Flans was picking out some audience members to thank, along with a guy wearing a 13 t-shirt whom Flans also told "no flash photography."

Somewhere in the middle of the week, as Shooting Star began during the puppet segment, Flans-puppet started saying "Let's stare at Dan Miller as he plays" and both puppets would stare at Dan while he began the song. They did this several times and we always made a point of staring fixedly at Dan too. This was particularly easy tonight as he was standing right in front of us and I think we managed to get several other people to join in. I wonder if he noticed at all?

When Flans went to pick up his acoustic guitar at one point the cord got caught on something and he said "that's not good." They managed to free it though. They were definitely having cord troubles today. At least it wasn't as bad as the show earlier in the week where the cord for the acoustic fell out of the guitar part way through a song.

To make up for my lack of a good recap I do have one good story from the middle of the show. I actually will do an exact transcription of it from some video I recorded (there isn't actually any visual worth seeing, I just did it to get the audio). This isn't a new story but I thought it was a funnier version.

Before my video starts Linnell asked Flans if they should tell the story about the band that must not be named. He agreed. Linnell explained that this happened in a town not too far from where we were.

I should also clarify that whenever Flans was referring to TMBG in the first bit of the story as a nameless band,  Linnell was either pointing at himself or mouthing "US" off to the side.

Flans: "So anyway, a band was doing a show opening for another band. The band that was opening, *whispering* US, we were used to doing, you know, headlining our own shows so it was still a bit difficult opening for another, much bigger band. And, ah, we did a really good job and really got the crowd going. We played like a half hour and you know, people were screaming and it was great and everyone was dancing around just like we were like high fives. It was awesome. And ah, that band got off the stage and ah, the next band came on the stage and their like, we were talking to those guys with They Might Be Giants. They said you guys sucked."

Crowd: Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Linnell: "Exactly"

Flans: "Now in show business, this is known as dropping an atomic bomb on the opener. I don't think we were invited back to that area.."

Linnell: "We should clarify that the opening band, insert They Might Be Giants name, didn't actually think the audience sucked and didn't express that view so this was a complete confection of the other band."

Flans: "By confection, John is not talking about delicious candy."

Crowd: Laughter

Linnell: "It was a confabulation, to put it in contemporary terms. It was a confabulation that they cooked up."

Flans: "It was a giant confabulation of baloney sandwiches they doled out in adult portions, much to the shock and amazement of They Might Be Giants. So um, last last year I was in.."

Linnell: "This story has a really funny ending, by the way."

Flans: "A really funny ending where the next song starts."

Linnell: "The story ends."

Flans: "And the story ends, that's like.."

Linnell: "Wow, I'm glad that story's over."

Flans: "But I was actually.."

Linnell: "It was awesome."

Flans: "I was in Lancaster, PA last year (crowd cheers), please hold your applause while I tell you that I was in a vinyl record store, the only vinyl record store in Pennsylvania I might add."

30th show girl: "We saw you walking there."

Flans: "And ah, you saw me walking there. And the guy who owns the shop was like, do you guys hate Lancaster? (crowd laughs) And I realized that this story has gone on. So, we just want to say, we're fine with Lancaster *something unintelligible* and we enjoyed performing for everyone here as well. So um, anyway, thats the true story portion of the show ladies and gentlemen."

Linnell: "Thank you very much. Goodnight. *pause* We're back."

I should add that I was also at the show before which 30th show girl saw Flans walking to the record store. It was actually the show where I first heard the story but this version was better. I know I looked before to try and figure out who the band was TMBG was opening for but I don't remember what I had decided. Some further research has given me a couple of possibilities. I'll let you do your own research if you are curious. Feel free to comment if you know the answer.

Anyway, this was a really excellent show. The guys were all smiles. All the banter I don't remember was funny. I got totally coated with the tiny invasive confetti during Damn Good Times. We got setlists at both shows. By this point the guitar tech, Victor, recognized my boyfriend and was really nice about making sure he got one. We hung around for a bit after the show trying to see if we could find one of the Dans to sign our CD. We had just about given up when Dan Miller walked through and my boyfriend tried to catch him but he moved too fast. Meanwhile, Danny had snuck past me and was standing right behind me signing for some other fans. Once I clued my boyfriend in to the fact that it was Danny that he had just had to sneak behind to get back to me, he very graciously signed our CD and drew little balloons on it. I wish I hadn't been too nervous to say something to him besides thank you, because I really wanted to tell him how much I love Paleontologist. Oh, well. Maybe another time. Only one more Dan signature needed! Only one more show to go as well. I'll try to get the last write-up done tomorrow and add all the pictures in to the appropriate entries. Many of them are already of Flickr.

Side note: On our way back to our campsite, my GPS took us on the most backwoods, middle of nowhere route. It had sent us on three major state routes to get there and then, inexplicably on the way back, decided to send us into horror movie territory. There was a dirt road at one point. And lots of wheat. I was expecting zombies or a guy with a chainsaw to suddenly appear. Very odd. Just thought I'd share.

Post Script: I can't believe I forgot this, but I was reminded while standing in the grocery store line today glancing at the tabloids. During a break between songs at the rock show the Johns decided they needed to do some more talking so Flansburgh said "how about that Bubble Boy?" They went off on this whole thing about the "Bubble Boy"and Linnell said he didn't know about anyone else but he probably would have gotten in the bubble. Flans made several comments that I don't remember, but the whole time I had no idea what they were talking about and I could tell a lot of the crowd didn't either. I wasn't sure if I had just missed something by being out of touch with the world for a week or if they were just making an obscure reference. Then they started the next song and part way through the song Linnell suddenly said "I think he's actually called Balloon Boy." Ohhhhh! I get it now! They were talking about that stupid kid in the balloon. I love that Linnell realized they had the name wrong while he was singing and just decided to continue the conversation in the middle of the song.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We'll Rock It So Well We Will Roll Down The Hill

October 16, 2009 - Mr. Small's - Pittsburgh, PA

Wow, what a cool venue! It really is perched on a pretty steep hill. It is a renovated church so it has the high vaulted ceilings and those great acoustics. We had a little trouble figuring out which door to go in and wandered around outside for a bit and as such there were quite a few people in line ahead of us. This was probably the most unpleasant wait of the whole trip because it was cold and raining and generally gross. And for the first time on the whole trip we didn't manage to get a stage side spot. Still had a great view from the second row though so I wasn't too disappointed.

Guggenheim Grotto had some fans in the crowd. Don't know if they were people that came to the show to see them or just people who had seen them at another TMBG show this week and liked them but they were very enthusiastic. And the boys seemed tickled pink that there were girls screaming for them.

There was some kind of problem with the keyboard while they were setting up after the Guggenheim set. Will, the sound guy, was playing with it and couldn't figure it out so he consulted with Victor, the guitar tech, who also couldn't figure it out. There was much switching of cables on the back to no avail. Just when it was starting to look dire, the show was late starting (not by much), replacement cables were being pulled out to test, and Scott, the tour manager was coming to find out what the problem was, Will realized that one of the plugs on a box on the floor was plugged into the wrong place. Huzzah! Will saves the day. We tried to start a mini cheer for him but it was much too loud for anyone to hear and most people hadn't been paying attention to the keyboard issues anyway.

The TMBG set was almost the same as the previous Flood show with one addition (I'll give you one guess what it was - we were in Mr. Small's after all) and the encore was tiny bit different.

Setlist: Meet the Elements - Pittsburgh (aka Mr. Small's) - Polk - Theme from Flood - Birdhouse - Lucky Ball and Chain - Istanbul - Dead - Shoehorn - Shooting Star - We Want A Rock - Someone Keeps Moving My Chair - Hearing Aid - Minimum Wage - Letterbox - Clap Your Hands - Cowtown - Whistling in the Dark - Hot Cha - Women and Men - WDTSS - WDTSRS - Racist Friend - Particle Man - Twisting - Sapphire Bullets - They Might Be Giants - Road Movie  Encore - Damn Good Times - Mesopotamians  Encore 2 - Drink - Fingertips

Not surprisingly, the Mr. Small's Venue Song got a huge response. It is one of my favorite Venue Songs so I was looking forward to hearing it in the venue and I was not disappointed. It rocked! We sadly, did not roll down the hill but almost.

Flans had introduced the Flood show before Polk so before they started Theme from Flood, Linnell said, "You know that album we were talking about? Here it is!" and they launched into the song.

I wish that every person who had ever told me that they had never heard of TMBG or asked "who's that" could have been in Mr. Small's for this performance of Birdhouse. It is always popular and crowds are always excited to hear it but I don't remember ever feeling quite so in tune with a room full of hundreds of people who LOVE this song as much as I do. Every single body was dancing or singing or jumping or just grinning.  The music was blasting, the room was shaking, and I felt that if everyone who ever looked at me like I was nuts when I told them how many TMBG shows I have been to could have been in that room they all would have had an enlightenment experience and thought, "oh, NOW I understand!"

Flans made several comments about the temperature of the room and how it is different every time they play Mr. Small's. Apparently the last time they were there it was boiling hot. This time it was freezing cold. One of the guys said it was like being on the Letterman show, where I have heard it is always frigid. Flans remarked later that it was nice to play in less than 100 degree temperatures. Danny turned the giant fan on his side of the stage off. It was pretty cold but it was not the coldest show I have been at (hello, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel). I think Flans was just shocked at the difference from their last visit.

They attempted to launch the confetti canons during Lucky Ball and Chain but it totally failed. The one on the right side of the stage didn't even have the tube attached and the one on the left spit one clump on the girl standing under it and nothing else. Linnell laughed at it a bit but they kept going right into Istanbul. There were also some guys who worked for the club attempting to fix a light on the left side of the stage and distracting the band. There was one guy at first who was stepping aside during songs and fighting with it during the breaks but then another guy came out and they couldn't really both fit off the side of the stage. They attempted to make their escape during the "fake" end to Istanbul not realizing that the song wasn't over and Flans leaned over to them and presumably told them not to worry about it and could they just get out of the way. Though he must have said it nicely because he didn't look mad.

After Istanbul, Linnell commented on what a total failure and disappointment the confetti canons had been. Flans said they were already down one wing and now their other had failed too. The best part was that Linnell then introduced Dead as "the current state of the confetti canons" and they dedicated the song to the poor dead canons.

The puppets seem to have settled on The Avatars of They for the name of their act. They talked quite a bit about TMBG albums while they were trying to introduce Shoehorn. They couldn't remember what album the song was on because Flan-Puppet's CD's were all pirated and didn't have names on them and Linnell-Puppet had his TMBG music on a burned disc called Mitch's Burned CD. Flans-Puppet apparently liked TMBG's early stuff better because it was edgier and he liked the drum machine. He lost track after Apollo 18. I totally forgot to mention it but at one of the earlier shows, I think Cleveland maybe, the puppets dubbed themselves Tar (Linnell) and Avi (Flans). They never mentioned it at the other shows but it might be a handy way for me to identify them in the future.

Flans introduced the two clarinets before Cowtown, and Linnell added in an intro for "the men who play them." Flans said it was time for the clarinets to "get paid" and then introduced them as Profit (Ralph) and Margin (Linnell).

Before Whistling in the Dark, Flans kept asking for the stage lights to be darker, whispering "darker, darker, darker, daaarrrkkker" until he was sounding quite evil. Iggy kept turning the lights down and down but I don't think they ever really got as dark as Flans wanted them. There was a note on the setlist to "stay in dark look."

Linnell didn't play around with Sun too much except for pronouncing oxygen in a very odd way and instead of helium he shouted "BRAINS." Nothing like a good recurring joke, especially one that goes away for a few days so you think they've forgotten it and then it turns up again. Did I mention the Indianapolis setlist with the little monster drawn on the bottom saying "BRAINKS!" With that spelling. Hehehe.

Linnell did Here You Come Again during the bridge of Particle Man again. After the song Flans made a joke about him being Dolly Linnell or John Parton or something to that effect. Someone in the crowd then shouted "nice tits." Crude, but amusing.

Between Particle Man and Twisting, Linnell said he was going to stop for a minute to drink some coffee even though this was the moment they usually went straight into the next song. There was silence for a minute, then he said "I don't really have anything interesting to say." Another moment of silence then: "Uncomfortable dead air." It probably doesn't translate well in writing, but it was pretty funny.

During They Might Be Giants, Flans used a Flashlight taped to Linnell's keyboard to cue the confetti "blizzard," as it is marked on the setlist, from the back of the room. It was set up somewhere back by Iggy's lighting board and showed the unsuspecting crowd thoroughly. That machine is really powerful because it blew confetti all the way up to the stage. They used a new small square confetti that was particularly invasive. I was finding pieces of it in every crease of my clothes for hours afterwards, and more in my pockets the next day.

At some point near the end of the show when Flans was talking about Marty's new drum kit he said that they were the only ones buying the things. "Us and dentist's offices, which might explain the enamel white color."

Successfully got Marty to sign our new copy of Science after the show. We even stopped and bought Sharpies just for this purpose. Now, just two more signatures needed to have a completely signed album.

This was one of the best shows of the tour, definitely the most enthusiastic crowd. Except for the one girl we overheard walking back to our car who was so clueless she shouldn't have been allowed in the building. Her friend was trying to tell her that Mesopotamians was on their newest album and she said that couldn't be because Flood was their newest album. Ahhhhhhhhhh!!! Was she not listening to the "It's a brand new album for 1990" line? Or maybe she thinks it is 1990? Her friend was trying to reason that that couldn't be because Istanbul was on Flood and that had been around for years. We walked away at that point. I certainly hope someone set her straight.

Apologies for the delayed posting of the last few write-ups. My phone internet threw at a tantrum at the end of the trip and stopped letting me into my blog and now that I am back at work time is an issue. I should have the Kutztown and NYC reviews done in the next few days. Also look for a TON of new pictures on my Flickr in the next few days.

They Might Be Giants Crack 'The Egg' - Spinner

John Linnell has made his second blog post from the road, this time about The Egg. Not surprisingly, his picture of it is cooler than mine.

They Might Be Giants Crack 'The Egg' - Spinner

Monday, October 19, 2009

'Old-Timey' Technology Is Just What They Might Be Giants Ordered - Spinner

John Linnell is blogging from the road! I do believe I actually saw the mentioned camera or one of it's friends in Indianapolis.

'Old-Timey' Technology Is Just What They Might Be Giants Ordered - Spinner

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where Was I, I Forgot

October 15, 2009 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH

Somehow playing Flood in a club called Beachland seems wildly appropriate. Despite being late due to annoying traffic there were very few people waiting in line when we got to Beachland. There was a girl dressed as a pickle though. She was advertising a puppet show that she was going to be performing in the attached tavern before the show. We were a little disappointed the have to miss it in order to secure our stage spots. It sounded fantastically odd.

We got to wait in the tavern after only about 15 minutes outside which was a blessing since it was freezing and wet. People insisted on forming a line inside to the bafflement of the staff and briefly bottlenecked the door but it got sorted out and most everyone ended up in the same order they had been in outside. The people in the tavern got to go inside the theater first so we still got a stage side spot.

We were on the left side of the stage which seemed like a good place to be until they moved the keyboard after Guggenheim finished. It was much more left than center because the stage was so small so the left corner of it ended up right in front of my face. It was so close it completely obscured most of the rest of the stage. If anyone ever wanted to know the serial number of the keyboard I could have told you, I was that close. My saving grace was that no one stepped in behind me so I could step back to see over the keyboard when I needed to.

Setlist: Meet the Elements - Polk - Theme from Flood - Birdhouse - Lucky Ball and Chain - Istanbul - Dead - Shorehorn - Shooting Star - We Want a Rock - Someone Keeps Moving My Chair - Hearing Aid - Minimum Wage - Letterbox - Clap Your Hands - Cowtown - Whistling in the Dark - Hot Cha - Women and Men - WDTSS - WDTSRS - Racist Friend - Particle Man - Twisting - Sapphire Bullets - They Might Be Giants - Road Movie Encore - Damn Good Times - Mesopotamians Encore 2 - Drink - Ana Ng - New York City

We finally confirmed, by aquiring a setlist, that the out of sequence order of Flood was intentional, at least at this show. It does spice up the end half of the set with some livelier songs. And, as my boyfriend pointed out, they come back from the puppet set with the lyric "where was I, I forgot the point that I was making" which is very fitting. I don't know if that part is purposeful or just a happy coincidence.

There was a sign on the door outside specifying no cameras but there were so many people using them that I ended up taking out mine too so I have some good if oddly angled pictures.

When TMBG came out Linnell put his coffe cup down on the stage so close to me that I could smell it. And boy did it smell good. Some kind of vanilla blend I believe. Linnell also brought his camera on stage with him which comes into play later.

Flans mentioned again that Polk was released on a promotional EP for Flood so singing it was promotion for the Flood set. He also announced in advance that there were going to be three pledge drive interuptions to Flood and to stay tuned for the telephone number to call.

During Polk, Dan was having trouble with his guitar and left the stage, giving the guitar to the guitar tech Victor. After the song, Victor was out on stage fixing something on Dan's pedals and Flans said he could see that something was obviously not right because Victor was on stage. But he was sure that, because Victor was a perfectionist, he was just correcting some minor inperfection and that all would soon be well. I don't remember when but at some point Flans also gave a shout out to Will, their sound guy for handling their monitors with no feedback and no back talk.

They used the old confetti canons in place of the popping sound in Lucky Ball and Chain. The confetti kind of clumped again and Linnell said they probably shouldn't wet the confetti before the show.

The puppets talked mostly about their upcoming album James Cameron Presents The Avatars of They which they could not play until the movie was released.

When Marty moved to the electric kit, either the first time or the second time Flans had him demonstrate it and said that it sounded like that guy's car that stops outside your house in the middle of the night and, as Marty played the siren noise, the police that come to make the guy go away.

At some point in one of the Flood songs, probably during Minimum Wage but possibly as late as Hot Cha, there was a moment when four or five people to my right all raised their cameras to take a picture of Linnell at the same time and he gave this startled look as he suddenly looked out onto a crowd of papparazzi. After the song he said he had an idea and pulled out his camera and asked all the people to raise their cameras again and pretend to take a picture of him so he could take a picture of them. I badly wanted to get in on the picture but I hadn't actually been taking a picture at that time and I would have really had to force myself into the shot because I was too far to the left. It was really cool though. He took another crowd shot picture later which I may or may not have been in. I think it went over my head.

Before Cowtown, Flans said this was probably the first time two clarinets had ever appeared together on this stage except maybe during a school recital. Then followed a very funny exchange which I will quote to the best of my memory.

Flans: We have John Linnell on his Bundy school model clarinet.

Linnell:*affronted* This is a very expensive clarinet.

Flans:Oh, it's a fancy clarinet.

Linnell: It's a Buffet.

Flans checks with Ralph and confirms that he also is playing a Buffet.

Linnell: You gave me this clarinet.

Flans: I know I did.

Linnell: Then you should remember what kind it is.

Or something to that effect. Both humorous and informative if you ever wondered about the history of Linnell's clarinet.

Introducing Hot Cha, Linnell said that Flans had written this song and and he still didn't know what it was about. Flans quipped that is was about Linnell's family. Linnell responded with, "I know that, I meant the rest of it." Several people in the crowd had made "oh, I don't believe you said that noises" when Flans made his joke. Linnell then started immitating those people hollering several variations of "Damn,"" Snap" and " you got owned." This got such a good response he kept it up, really yelling and screwing his face up. It was fantastic. And you could see Danny and Marty cracking up in the back, totally in astonishment at how ridiculous Linnell was being. They whole band was in a very silly mood tonight, but Linnell in particular.

When Marty went across the stage to the elctric kit, I believe for WDTSS but possibly later, Linnell commented that they hadn't been playing any music for Marty switching kits tonight and proceeded to sing Marty a little electric drum kit intro song while he settled himself. The stage was so small that Marty had some trouble making it back and forth across the stage repeatedly. He kept running into guitar stands and people.

Danny took his Sun drum playing one step further today by adding a drum roll.

Flans said that they had written WDTSRS to prevent all the science teachers out their from calling them in the middle of the night to complain that WDTSS was incorrect. One of the other guys said they were going to call anyway and Flans added in that they were going to call on their boom cars and dedicated the song to all those teachers.

At the beginning of Particle Man, Linnell recited this completely out of nowhere riff: "I had a dream, I had a dream I was in Alamaba, I had a dream I was in the band Alabama." He also did the Dolly Parton song Here You Come Again in the bridge which I hadn't seen him do yet this tour.

While Marty was settling himself at the electric kit for Sapphire Bullets (this may have also been when Linnell sang him his song) Linnell asked him if he knew that they had gotten the name of the song from a Mahavishnu Orchestra song. Marty did know. Flans said, of course he knows because anyone who went to music school knows that.

Also, on Marty's last trip across to the electric kit, Flans introduced him as: Marty Beller - strong enough for a man but made for a woman.

Linnell started Ana on the accordion again since he was still holding it from Drink! but he traded it for the keyboard after the first few measures.

And that was the very silly show. Much of that description wasn't really in chronological order. My apologies. I tend to remember stuff but not exactly when it happened and it is hard to make major corrections when I am blogging from my phone. The Pittsburgh write-up should be better since I made notes immediately after. I'll try to have it up tomorrow if there is time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Holding Back Since 1978

October 13, 2009 - The Vogue - Indianapolis, IN

Yet another rock club tucked into a suburban neighborhood. This one was next to a comedy club and the line of people waiting to get into that show was longer than ours. There was apparently some kind of MySpace comedy show that was only admitting 250 people so everyone was there early.

We got a spot smack center stage. The stage was very low and they had set up all the equipment trunks on their ends in front of the stage, as far as I can tell, just to give Flans a spot to come out and play in front of the crowd. There was even a big taped X on the edge of the stage to indicate where it was safe for him to step to get out there.

They seem to have made a new pre-show mix because there were new songs playing before the show. I believe the ones after the opener were the old ones. It was nice to hear new stuff but I have really grown to love the old ones and I missed it.

We got talking to the guy next to us about the band and other shows we had been to. Turns out he was at the Chicago show with us too. He had made a Chess Piece Face mask to wear for a bit of the show. It didn't inspire them to play the song but it was cool.

Guggenheim played a new song. It was actually something brand new that they had never played before so we were the test audience. It was called Wisdom and was quite good. It had an audience sing along part, just some la-la-las but any audience participation is good. We finally caved and bought their CDs after the show. I really am fond of them.

This was one of the few non-Flood shows on this tour. The downside was the show was really short. They were done by 10:30. They keep using basically the same setlist for the non-Flood shows but it gets shorter every time. They had dropped another song or two off it tonight and changed the order around.

So, setlist: Meet the Elements - New York City - Ana Ng - My Brother the Ape - Twisting - Dr. Worm - Birdhouse - Clap Your Hands - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Seven - Hearing Aid - Polk - Science Is Real - Paleontologist - Dead - Spider - Don't Let's Start - Shooting Star - Shoehorn - Cowtown - Istanbul Encore - We Live In A Dump - Mesopotamians Encore 2 - Drink - Alphabet of Nations - Damn Good Times

Things of note:

Flans gave a shoutout to Cub before NYC.

He had this whole thing about it being a Tuesday night show and that meaning that this wasn't the night that your friend went crazy and you got locked out of your car like you would on a Saturday. Then he said this was the point in the show where he should be going into the audience with the mic and asking "so, where you from?" Lots of people started screaming for him to bring the mic to them and he said "no, we're NOT going to do that.

After one of the first songs, Linnell made a comment comparing tonight's performance to a Simply Red show and said they were holding back. This was apparently a reference to a Simply Red song or album called Holding Back the Goods which Flans initially didn't get but then picked up on. Linnell said, in reference to the other band, that they had been "holding back since 1978." Flans chimed in saying TMBG were holding back the goods and were only going to be delivering 78% tonight. The "holding back the goods" line became a running joke for the next several songs. The dowside of not having time to blog immediately after the show is that I forget some of the specifics. There was a lot more too this joke that I just don't remember.

Linnell said that My Brother the Ape was about Flansburgh's brother who is a gorilla.

Dan was having trouble with the keyboard at the beginning of Doctor Worm, which made the beginning sound so odd I didn't recognize it at first.

Before Where Your Eyes Don't Go Linnell said that they sometimes had to go back and completely relearn a song in order to perform it for us which was the case for this one.

Flans had the best riff about their Grammy win which was all basically justifying his regular "it's an honor just to win" comment. I don't remember most of it but it ended with "fuck it, its Tuesday." He was talking about how being a musician is a joke when you're 20 but when you're 30, 35, 40 you mom starts to cry," where did I go wrong." "The Grammy helps."

While introducing Science Is Real, Flans said they had gotten a lesson in YouTube flaming when they posted the Science videos online.

Danny before Paleontologist: "This is my favorite song because it's about me. I am a paleontologist." After the song Linnell called him Dr. Danny Weinkauf, then Dr. Daniel H. Weinkauf. "Don't ask him what the H stands for." Flans got into this whole thing about the H standing for Danny's pin number and if you tried to look it up on the internet your computer would blow up.

It took longer than normal to get the screen and puppets set up and when the band finished playing a longer than average version of the puppet intro music, Linnell said "And we're still not ready. I think you guys are going to have to play the whole song." The Avatars were talking about their new album James Camerson Presents Songs from Avatar but they aren't allowed to play any of the songs until after the movie is released. Flans was fixated on the puppet shadows that were obscuring his puppet on the screen. Flans-puppet tried to eat his shadow again. Linnell suggested that Flans tilt the camera down to illiminate the shadow but Flans said that then the audience would be able to see the people operating the puppets. Linnell pointed out that the audience probably already knew there were people operating the puppets. Linnell also demonstrated some of his new puppeteering skills he has been learning by making his puppet swallow.

Flans talked about Cast Your Pod to the Wind before Dump. He said back in December all of their music mysteriously vanished from iTunes for a bit but that the upshot was when it came back they added some stuff that wasn't available before like Cast Your Pod. So if you liked things without DRM and wanted to support artists you could buy it. Linnell joked that only four people in the crowd supported this. After joking for a bit Flans said "seriously people, come on. Please?" He was obviously indicating that for all the joking they would really like you to support the band by paying for your songs.

Linnell actually came part way out on the trunks for his solo bit on Alphabet, at least as far as his mic would let him.

When Flans was talking about the stickers at the end, Linnell took one that Flans had set on his keyboard and stuck it to the front of his keyboard on the white tape, next to the TMBG logo.

We snagged a setlist at the end and got Marty to sign it. We also bought a signed copy of Science, making the fourth time we have purchased the album so Flans can't complain that I am not supporting the band. We were a little disappointed to realize that it is only signed by the Johns and not the whole band like the ones at the earlier shows were. We're going to have to try to get the rest of the guys to sign it before the end of the trip. And, as I said, we picked up the two Guggenheim CDs and got Kevin and Mick to sign them.

So an excellent but short show. No pictures but I'll get one of the setlist up. I'll attempt to get the Cleveland write-up done tomorrow so I don't fall behind again. On to Pittsburgh in the morning. Mr. Small's here I come. Hope I don't roll down the hill!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Our Pleasure To Serve You

October 11, 2009 - The Barrymore Theatre - Madison, WI

The They Day show! And no, I did not see a single person at this sold out show with They written on their forehead. I was going to but chickened out at the last minute. What I did see was Flans and Marty walking across the street to a diner while I was parking the car.

The Barrymore is tucked in right next to a residential neighborhood in Madison. Seems like it would be ideal if you lived there. Just walk down to the theater whenever there was a good show!

Though this was a theater with seats it was obvious not many people planned to sit in them. We met up with someone I had met online and his kids and got a spot just left of the keyboard. My boyfriend and I ended up moving down almost to the end of the stage to let other little kids get a good view. I admit there were so many cute little kids at this show I kept getting distracted watching them instead of the band. I tried to tell my friend's son that he was in the perfect spot to get to play Flans' guitar but he didn't believe me. But he did get to play it so I won that bet.

There was a little girl next to me playing with a stuffed skunk, making him hop all over the side of the stage. When I tried to drop a piece of confetti on it after the first canon blast the skunk snapped at me and she warned me to be carefuil because it was a biting skunk. Yikes!

There were also two little boys standing behind me who stuffed their noses with confetti after the last blast and stood there watching the end of the show with wads up confetti dangling from their nostrils. So, yeah, good off stage kiddie antics going on.

They played the same setlist as The Vic. It was actually just a photocopied Vic setlist with Vic partially cut off the top. We did, finally manage to get out hands on one after the show.

So the setlist was: I Never Go to Work - Clap Your Hands - The Famous Polka - I Am A Paleontologist - WDTSS? - Pirate Girls Nine - Bed - Roy G. Biv - Alphabet Lost and Found - Fibber Island - Zilch - Particle Man - Shooting Star - My Brother the Ape - Alphabet of Nations - Older - Where Do They Make Balloons - Seven - Dr. Worm Encore - Meet the Elements - Istanbul

At lot of the banter was the same or similar to the day before but I'll recount the new stuff.

Flans made a great point of greeting the people in the balcony whom he couldn't see because the balcony was so far back. He also checked several times to make sure there was enough light for the parents to "do what they need to do" with their kids.

During The Famous Polka, Linnell was walking backward while playinf the accordion and tripped over the corner of a carpet on stage. I thought he was going to fall backward but he caught himself and managed to keep playing the entire time. Impressive! They really should have taped that carpet though because Danny caught his mic stand on it later too.

Before Paleontologist Danny said that they have come to Madison every year and in the twelve years he has been in the band he has never gotten to sing for the Madison fans so he was very happy to be allowed to do so. My friend shouted "about time" at him which he really appreciated.

During WDTSS, Danny got up on the drum platform again and this time stretched out to play both one of the drums and the cymbol at the same time. I think Marty should be concerned that Danny is getting too fond of being a drummer. Linnell added battleships into items that are gas on the sun and the nuclear reactions were caused by the watusi, the fox trot, the two-step and the waltz (said as if it was a much dreaded dance).

When they set off the old confetti canons during Bed, the one of the left by us shot a few clumps into the air (one of which landed on the girl next to me, to her surprise and delight) but most of the confetti stayed in the canon. Danny reached into the canon and took out another wad to throw at the crowd and kicked some confetti off the stage. After the song Linnell, said that the canon had been a bit of a disappointment and they thought they might have to offer a partial refund to the audience: one penny, plus a piece of confetti. I wonder if anyone took them up on it.

While introducing Marty before Alphabet Lost and Found, Flans said that TMBG was just his day job and that he really sang in a boy band called Color Me Sync'd.

During the puppet bit, Flans-puppet was going on about his coffee cup hat again and said the kids might recognize it better if it was turned right-side up. So he turned his head upside-down in front of the camera to display the coffee cup and turned the "It's Our Pleasure To Serve You" message to the camera which Linnell-puppet read it to the crowd. This got lots of cheers.

Flans messed up a line in Shooting Star and changed the next one a little to rhyme better. After the song, he attributed his brain lapse to the popcorn smell in the theater which was distracting him (they were selling popcorn in the lobby).

Before Doctor Worm, Flans said "the next song is about a doctor who thinks he's a worm but is really a worm who thinks he's a doctor."

When Flans made the announcement about the free stickers he made the shocking revelation that they had recently learned that you CAN put the Science stickers on your face. Linnell told the crowd that it wouldn't hurt to put the stickers on but it would hurt to take them off. Flans demonstrated some of the stickers and put the Roy G. Biv sticker on his guitar. He realized after doing it that it might not have been a good idea and said "that's gonna leave a mark" but it was too late to take it off.

They finished with an extremely long lasting confetti blast at the end of Istanbul. It was marked on the setlist as "confetti for a long time."

Fantastic show despite the reused setlist. The band was obviously having a great time as was the crowd.

Indianapolis tonight. I could not be any more center stage. There won't be any pictures from Madison or Indy due to "no camera" rules but I've got great ones from Chicago to post when I get back to my computer.

Hey, Hey, We're The Avatars

October 10, 2009 - The Vic - Chicago, I'll - 2 Shows

First off, it is really cold in Chicago. Much colder than I expect it to be in October. Brrr.

We arrived at The Vic after the doors had opened for the family show. Not a problem as we weren't trying to be up front. We got a nice spot off to the left. Couldn't see Marty at all except when he was at the electric kit but otherwise the view was great and I got some nice pictures.

The setlist was pretty much identical to the shows at the AMNH last weekend. They started with "the musician's national anthem," I Never Go To Work, followed by Clap Your Hands. After Clap, Flans said "when I said jump in the air, I didn't mean the people in the balcony," which got lots of "awwws." He also asked that the house lights be turned up a little so that parents could see to wrangle their kids.

Next Flans said they only had one polka in their repetoire which is why it is called The Famous Polka, which they of course played. No lyrics this time. That may have been a one time thing for me.

Flans said he had to move to a different mic so that Danny could sing because "he is a paleontologist. Not an archeologist or a researcher but a real paleontologist."

They played Marty's march to the electric drum kit music and then did a little demo on the kit. Flans said that Christmas had come early for Marty because he got two drum kits on stage. Apparently in the future kids will become accustomed to hundreds of drum kits on stage but by then those kids will all be adults and the show will be called the Drum Lab at the Guitar Center.

Slow version of WDTSS again. They seem to be sticking with slow for now. Linnell played around with more of the spoken parts. Everything on the sun is a gas, including bones, wood, nails, cinder blocks and several other items I don't remember. A million earths could fit inside the sun and be cooked to a lovely golden brown. For the reactions on the sun, he used some stuff, a bunch of things, a lot of little bits and the clutter on those bits.

Flans did the same intro to Pirate Girls that he did at the museum. "This song is about three things: the number nine, pirates - arrr, and girls - arrr." He also taught us how to count to nine again, saying that the last city they had played the song in the audience had trouble getting to nine and got lost around seven. We did several practice runs where the crowd was enthusiastic if not particularly in sync.

Before Bed, Linnell announced that it was his bedtime but instead of going to bed he was going to sing about going to bed. They did the first confetti launch from the old canon just as he cried "Gooooooooo." He made a cute little Fonzie style thumbs up sign to signal the launch.

When Flans introduced Roy G. Biv he said that the song was about the color spectrum but that Roy would not be performing with them.

Marty got his boy band intro to Alphabet Lost and Found. I love watching the bit where he runs around asking all the other guys "where they gonna go to find their letters?" and all the shrugs he gets in response. He collapsed on the stage at the end but Flans assured all the kids that he was just faking.

Flans started the next song saying that way back when they recorded their first album for kids Dan had just bought a new guitar with a foreign name. Dan launched into Fibber Island on his foreign acoustic guitar, which of course led into Zilch.

Linnell did some great accordion mashing at the end of Particle Man. Then they rolled out the puppets. They introduced themselves as The Avatars again but Linnell said the kids probably didn't know what that word meant. Flans said it meant movie which Linnell said wasn't quite right but they went with it. They thanked TMBG for opening then did some schtick with the coffee cup on Flans-puppet's head. They sang Shooting Star then resumed show as usual with the camera pointed at the audience. Seriously, I think those puppets could say the exact same thing every show and I would still laugh.

They followed with My Brother the Ape and Alphabet of Nations. Flans let the kids play his guitar before Older again and they let loose the new confetti machine near the end of the song coating much of the floor and even reaching some of the balcony.

Danny came out to do Balloons and asked everyone to help him with the lyrics. He also thanked the Chicago crowd for always being so great.

Flans had Dan demonstrate the fake sax from the keyboard before Seven to counterpoint Ralph's real sax. But Flans said the noise he played was the fake duck instead of the fake sax. It was rather dying duck-like.

Before the end of the show Flans asked the parents to hoist their kids in the air as if they didn't care about safety so there were lots of kids perched on shoulders for the end of the set. They introduced the band before closing with Doctor Worm.

They came back and did Elements for the encore and Flans announced that the free stickers would be given out, though this time it was the cute Science stickers rather than the bumper stickers. Ever since the museum shows he has been making a point of saying that you can not stick the bumper stickers on your face, even to the adult crowds and he made the same announcement about the Science stickers.

They finished with Istanbul and launched the confetti machine again during the crazy music at the end with Flans standing right in front of it and being completely buried in confetti. I can't even imagine how much confetti they must be going through on this tour. Iggy came out after the show and was scooping great armfuls of it off the stage and back into the machine. I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but I don't think so. After the Ithaca show, one of the theater employees was talking to some fans and said their contract actually stipulated extra help for confetti clean-up. No wonder!

We got right back in line for the night show after a stop back at the car and proceeded to freeze for the next hour while we waited. The theater security had to boot a rather creative panhandler from bugging people in line and she gave them a good line about being allowed to beg if she was 20 feet from a door (which she wasn't) prompting the guys to ask if it was a full moon after she left. I also had a boot a guy who was trying to cut the line in front of me, which I was rather proud of myself for, not being a particularly confrontational person normally. Unfortunately, he found people to let him into the line not too far behind us.

We got an excellent spot on the right side of the stage (we've been trying to alternate) next to the same couple we had been next to at the family show. We are not the only crazy adults who go to the family shows!

Guggenheim Grotto did the exact same set again. I figure they will probably do the same one all tour. The guitar player, Mick, has this clever wooden thing on the floor he uses for percussion. Its a flat piece of wood with two one by one long blocks of wood bolted to it and it is mic'd somehow and plugged in. It basically amplifies his foot taps so he came provide rhythm on some of the songs. Don't know if it is something they made or a percussion tool I have't seen before but it is quite effective.

The stuffed bird from the previous night reappeared except it seems to be plastic rather than stuffed. It also has a lot of friends. There are eight or ten of them placed all over the stage. I think they are plastic mourning doves. There does not seem to be any explanation for them but then again that is not surprising with TMBG.

There was a guy standing behind us to the right who had a marker board that said TMBG Sign Guy on it with an arrow. I thought it was kind of funny but apparently I missed most of the joke because at the end of the show when Flans was thanking the audience he thanked "the guy providing the cue cards all night." Apparently he kept changing the message on the board and holding it up for the band to read. I am sorry I did not realize earlier so I could see what other things he wrote on the board. The messages I saw at the end were "Hey, guys, wanna be friends? I've got a Wii" and something asking Flans if he remembered talking to the guy in 1997. Clever, though it might have gotten annoying after a while, especially if you were standing behind the guy.

They started with Elements and Polk again. They said they would be doing Flood in sequence with some pledge drive interuptions. I was very curious to see, after the previous night, if they managed to get Flood right this time. They didn't.

At the beginning of the Flood set, they were talking and about to go into Theme From Flood. At the same time Flans started to sing the first line, Linnell kept talking making for a very humorous false start. We got thoroughly guitar blasted during Birdhouse as both Dan and Flans came and stood directly over us to play. The popping sound in Lucky Ball and Chain has been disappointingly quiet since that first Flood show at LPR where it was shockingly loud. Ralph not only laid down on the floor to play during Istanbul, he actually slid himself across the stage on his back. It looked really cool. They once again made it as far as Dead before the first interuption.

Flans did his robot style "warning, warning, leaving Flood" and out came The Avatars. They introduced themselves, thanked TMBG for opening, then did some more coughing. Flans-puppet said he had a menthol cigarette stuck in his throat. They said that for now they could only perform TMBG songs because that was all they knew but that they their debut album would be out next year, tentatively titled Rock Out With Your Sock Out. There was another Mystery Science Theater comment as well and I am sure the coffee cup was mentioned again as Flans-puppet is obsessed with it. The Avatars dubbed their obsessive fans Avatar Zombies and Flans-puppet began crying "brains" repeatedly throughout the segment. Flans also kept saying it periodically throughout the rest of the show. Braaaaaiiiins!

They introduced Shoehorn as being from the album before Flood but couldn't remember what it was called because one of them only remembered the name of the band on the album and the other had it on a tape someone had made for him. They said they would have to get it on a bit torrent. Marty did an excellent job on his bell playing but they need to get a spotlight on him. I feel like people don't notice him because he isn't lit and they are all focused on the puppets.

They did Shooting Star with a bit of ad libbing at the end that they have been doing for the last couple of shows. They go off on a riff about the star calling and pick up the phone. Just makes the whole bit even funnier.

Flans made a returning to Flood announcement and they started back...with We Want A Rock. At least they got back in a song earlier this time. Flans and Dan seemed to realize immediately that they had flubbed it again because they were looking at each other, shaking their heads and laughing. I'd love to know if all the missed songs are also missing from the setlists or if they just keep forgetting to play them, but the setlists are really hard to get a hold of now with the sticker distribution.

If it weren't for Dan's and Flans' reactions tonight I would have said the order was intentional because they never said a word about missing the songs and slid them all in seamlessly, in order, later in the show. I never even saw them saw anything to each other off mic about playing them. Perhaps they had a contigency plan in place before the show in the event they missed a song. Or three.

They moved on to Someone Keeps Moving My Chair and Hearing Aid, (the guy next to me was the only one who got to play the guitar) and Minimum Wage. Then, I believe before Letterbox, Linnell, coffee cup in hand, said that he missed the talking portion of the show where he could just relax and it was just him and his coffee on stage. So Flans said "how bout those baseball play-offs? Not that we know anything about them." He said Marty was the one who followed baseball and that he was like Rain Man with the baseball stats and stuff. They said that the other night they almost didn't go on stage because the Yankees were in extra innings. They apparently told Marty, "they're going to win" and Marty told them to shut up. Linnell checked with Marty to see if that was actually what had happened and Marty said that was pretty much right. Then their manager, Scott, came in and asked them what the hell they were doing and why they were sitting back here watching TV."Get out on stage. There are people out there." It may not come across in my retelling but the whole story was really funny.

On through Letterbox, then another interruption for Clap Your Hands and Cowtown. Then back to Flood for Whistling in the Dark. As the proceeded on to Hot Cha and Women and Men I began to wonder if they were just going to skip the three missed songs entirely.

They stopped Flood again for WDTSS. Danny seems to have enjoyed playing with Marty's drums because he actually got up on the drum platform with the mallets and banged away in time with Marty on the electric kit after each of the nuclear reactions.

They finally went back and played Your Racist Friend, Particle Man and Twisting without ever mentioning that they were out of place. I never even heard anyone in the crowd yelling at them that they had missed songs like they did in St. Louis. The mixs up were much less disruptive this time.

From Twisting they resumed the end of Flood, finishing with Sapphire Bullets, They Might Be Giants and Road Movie. I was amused that during Road Movie while waiting for his time to play, Danny was just chillin' sitting on Ralph's platform at the back of the stage drinking his beer. When the band left the stage at the end of the song Danny stopped to finish off his beer before he left the stage. Everyone was so relaxed for this performance, I think this is just the perfect example of it.

They did Damn Good Times for the first encore. When Flans started the band intro riff he was doing this whole schtick about using communication to communicate the names of the individual band members to us. Mesopotamians closed out the first encore.

At the beginning of the second encore Flans began introducing Drink! and said that for some reason it hadn't gone over well when they had played it at the family show. The family audience just did not get into the audience participation part and they couldn't understand what the problem was. This was made even funnier by several people in the crowd yelling at him that they hadn't played it at the family show. It was a joke,people!

Flans gave us instructions for the audience participation portion of Drink! He wanted the balcony to do one "drink" and the floor to do the other but couldn't decide which order to have us go in. He tried to have us vote but everyone just made a lot of noise without indicating which order they wanted. So he tried to have us say "yay" after the option we liked but they couldn't hear a difference in the response. He ended up deciding the floor should go first and let the cries flow up.

Once, he got into the song though, he forgot the second verse. He started apologizing before the band had even finished the end of the song but said it was OK because they had lots more songs they could play. Linnell, who was still holding the accordion, started playing Ana Ng, obviously unplanned. The rest of the band scrambled to begin the song. Dan was holding the wrong guitar and didn't have time to change. Marty made a mad dash to his regular drum kit on the other side of the stage. Once the other guys had picked up the intro, Linnell went to drop off the accordion and switched to the keyboard while Marty got situated. I was sorry he didn't attempt to play it on the accordion but it was cool enough to hear the beginning.

They finished with New York City to thunderous applause. I can see why they like the Chicago crowds so much. The room was loaded with energy.

I'll attempt to get the Madison write-up done tomorrow. I can't believe this trip is almost half over already. We had out first non- show day today. I am getting so used to at least a show a day it felt weird not going to one tonight but I'm sure my eardrums appreciated it. The Chicago show was LOUD!