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!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

If Anything Was Broke, I'm Sure It Could Be Mended...

October 9, 2009 - The Pageant - St. Louis, M0

Wow! What a gloriously screwed up show! This one will be hard to top for sheer entertainment value.

When we arrived at The Pageant there were only a few people waiting in line outside. We waited outside a window looking in at a side room of the club where the merch table was being set up. I watched Mike, the merch guy, setting up and the Guggenheim guys laying out their CDs. It was pretty cold outside and I was not really looking forward to waiting outside for another half hour. A club employee came out to the line and said that anyone over 21 could still wait in the bar and that people in the bar got to go in first. We decided to wait inside since I was starting to freeze.

Turns out there were about 50 people already in a line inside the bar. I pretty much gave up hope of being stage-side but when we were allowed to go in almost everyone in line chose to sit at the tables that were in rows around the room and only a few people were on the lower level dance floor by the stage. We chose a spot just to the left of center.

The stage was ridiculously high, obviously constructed so that the people at the tables could see over the heads of the people on the floor. Standing next to it I could just rest my chin on it so it must have been about five feet high. This made for some very interesting viewing angles.

This is my favorite club I've seen the band it yet. Between the nice combo of seating and standing, the HUGE stage and the lovely balcony around the whole room, it was just a great layout.

The Guggenheim Grotto performed pretty much the same set as Thursday. I have learned that the piano player is named Kevin and the guitar player is called Mick. Very appropriately Irish. They do a song called Oh, Nikita which has the refrain "oh, Nikita, come and get me, I'm nearly 30." In Detroit, after the song someone in the crowd had asked for a song for someone who is nearly 40, which Mick mentioned tonight. He then commented on the fact that this was the first time he had ever been able to see himself play because he could see himself in the mirror over the bar. Someone in the crowd asked how he looked and he replied "nearly 40." I rather like these guys sense of humor.

Kevin told the sheep story again. The exact line in the song is "let's get naked and get under the sheets." It is a great song with or without the sheep.

I am beginning to wonder how cold it needs to get before Iggy stops wearing shorts because I have almost never seen him in anything else. He wandered about the stage a bit tightening lights with a wrench between the sets.

Before TMBG came on there had been a stuffed bird perched on Dan's keyboard mic stand but it disappeared before the band came on though. Very mysterious!

TMBG came out with, big surprise, Meet the Elements. They followed with Polk which Flans said had been released on an EP to promote Flood so it fit the theme.

After the first song, Danny needed to adjust the box for his ear piece and lifted up his shirt to reach it which resulted in screams from many of the women and some of the men. Hehe.

Flans made a comment before the Flood set about his voice being too full of menthol cigarettes to sing.

Flans thanked the audience for the sold out show, especially the last 100 people who bought tickets that day. He said it shouldn't make that much difference if the show almost sells out but it is a really nice feeling when it actually does.

They headed into Flood well enough getting through the Theme, Birdhouse, Lucky Ball and Chain, Istanbul and Dead without much incident. And then the trouble started.

Flans went on the mic and began to cry, "warning, warning, warning, leaving Flood." And the puppets took over the show. They are still goind by the name The Avatars. They thanked They Might Be Giants for opening for them and all the practicing they had done to prepare Flood. Flans-puppet spent some time searching for his cigarettes and both went into hacking fits. They thanked James Cameron for making the movie about them but said it wasn't as good as Titanic.

Flans-puppet said they were going to" rock out with our socks out." He then said that the phrase "rock out with our socks out" is TM The Avatars so we better not use it on our blogs or their lawyers will be on our ass before you can say Walt Disney Corporation. Does it count if I use it in quotes?

The puppets did Shoehorn, with Marty on the bells again, and Shooting Star. I find it amusing that the puppets do more singing at the rock shows than the family shows.

Flans made another announcement in his best robot voice that they were resuming Flood before they went back to the regular set. Except they came back in the wrong spot. The played Someone Keeps Moving My Chair, skipping the whole second half of Side A. Linnell even made a comment about starting Side B but didn't realize they never finished A.

Flans realized after the song that they had forgotten Twisting and told Linnell that they had missed something and needed to go back. He started giving him hints even though Linnell kept telling him he knew what it was. First Flans was saying it starts with the farfisa organ then he was saying "she's," several times with Linnell saying "I know, I know, I know what song it is."

So they went back and played Twisting. But then kept going on to to Hearing Aid. My boyfriend and I, as well as the girl next to me, got to play Flans's guitar. Whee!

They did Minimun Wage and Letterbox and then interrupted the show again with more warnings to play Clap Your Hands and Cowtown.

They came back into Flood with Whistling in the Dark which they had to restart because Linnell got the first line wrong. Then Danny went over to Flans to tell him that they had missed something else. Flans told him they'd play it in Chicago and went on to Hot Cha. But then he announced that they were going to do a fast improv version of Your Racist Friend since Danny had reminded him. Danny said that it had been Marty and they all scrambled to get ready for a different song than they were set to play. Ralph was looking very confused at the back of the stage but Danny tipped him off and he had his miniature trumpet ready.

I don't know how they got so messed up but it may have been partially due to the light on Linnell's setlist not working so he culdn't see it. He kept going to look at other people's until Flans noticed and swapped his setlist with Dan's which had a functioning light. That was before they started going back to play this missed songs though so it may not have been related.

After Racist Friend Danny tried to tell Linnell to play We Want A Rock but Linnell said he was just going to play what was next on the setlist and went into Women and Men. Danny ran around after the song telling everyone to play Rock and getting them all confused as Flans went into another Flood interruption and they had to proceed into WDTSS? I think Marty was trying to indicate to Danny that he was at the wrong drum kit and Dan had left the stage entirely.

I know everyone always thinks that people in the band are looking at them during shows. I know I have certainly gotten that impression before. But I think probably 90% of the time they are imagining it. But tonight I a sure Danny was looking at me periodically throught the next few songs. We were both just laughing at the ridiculousness of it. At least in my mind, we shared a certain "wow, this show has gotten out of hand" solidarity for much of the rest of the set.

The nuclear reactions in Sun were not particularly inventive. Linnell said nitrogen, ebo, ebo and ebo. What was fantastic was by this point Danny had just given in to the absurdity and climbed around to the back of Marty's regular drum kit and was banging on the cymbols during the weird noises portions of the song. He was just grinning and being a total goof.

He made another failed Rock attempted before they went into Sapphire Bullets then looked at me and shrugged as if to say "I tried" as Flans said there were only three songs left.

Finally, Flans paid attention to him and they played Rock but at the end of the song Marty reminded Danny that they hadn't done Particle Man either. Danny yelled across to Flans who was about to say they only had two songs left but changed it to 14 when he heard Danny interrupting him again. Danny gave him a very "don't blame me, I'm just the messenger" look. But they played it! Really, how could they not at a Flood show?

After the song Flans asked if they had forgotten to play anything else. "Did we forget to play all of Lincoln before we started?" He made a comment earlier that their Flood shows usually went much smoother and he wasn't sure where this one went wrong.

They introduced They Might Be Giants as the first song they named after themselves and closed with Road Movie with the extra verse.

They came out for the first encore already playing Damn Good Times, then Mesopotamians.

They did the band intros and I hollered especially loud for Danny since he made it obvious once again that the whole band would be lost without him (I have noticed this before - it is just one of the many reasons I love him). I also gave myself a sore throat screaming for Marty which still hasn't gone away. They finished the first encore with New York City.

During one of the encores Flans thanked the audience for coming and pointed out several people in particular. They did Drink! and Fingertips for the second encore but Dan didn't do the Where's Dan thing. Still I've missed it lately so it was nice to have it back.

They handed out more stickers after the show but the sticker thing makes trying to get a setlist near impossible and makes me feel weird about standing around waiting for one, especially since it is Marty and Flans giving out the stickers.

So this may not have been the smoothest running show but it sure was funny. And Danny Weinkauf is my new god. He is just that awesome.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Motor City Mayhem

The Great TMBG Roadtrip 2009 Day One

October 8, 2009 - Saint Andrew's Hall - Detroit, MI

And we're off! We headed out on the road Wednesday night and made our first stop in Niagara Falls. We spent Thursday morning looking at the falls before continuing on to Detroit. Man, that's a lot of water.

We arrived at Saint Andrew's about an hour before doors and were the third group in line. It was a cold and slightly damp wait but there were lots of comings and goings to watch outside. We saw every member of the band coming out of the theater at one point or another except Flans. This was the first time I have ever seen Linnell outside a theater and totally spoils our theory that he arrives at venues via secret tunnels dug especially for the occasion.

We got a perfect spot center stage and spent the next hour listening to a loud moron shout obsenities and nonsense to no one in particular.

The opening act for this tour is called Guggenheim Grotto. They are a couple of Irish guys and they are (thank god) really good. I do not mind seeing them all week at all. One plays guitar and uke and one plays piano. They both sing. They have kind of folk/rock/country style.

After they said they were from Ireland someone in the audience accused them of having fake accents and they responded by acussing him of having a fake accent. Good and witty! The guitar player also eventually "shhh'd" the screaming moron to much applause. He said he'd never been applauded for "shhhing" before.

The piano player told a funny story before one of their songs. He said there was a line that repeated eight times that they encourage people to sing along with. It was something like "come get naked and get under the sheets." Apparently the first time he played it for his sister they were in the car with his four year old nephew in the back who sang "get naked and get under the sheep."

TMBG came on to thunderous applause and much screaming from the Linnell fan girls to our left. The house was packed and Flans thanked everyone for the great turn out.

Setlist: Meet the Elements - Damn Good Times - Los Angeles - My Brother the Ape - Youth Culture Killed My Dog - Birdhouse - Clap Your Hands - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Seven - Hearing Aid - James K. Polk - Shoehorn with Teeth - What Is A Shooting Star - Drink! - WDTSS? - WDTSRS? - Dead - Spider - Don't Let's Start - New York City - Cowtown - Istanbul Encore 1= Science Is Real - Ana Ng Encore 2= We Live In A Dump - Mesopotamians

The setlist was almost identical to the Ithaca show except a few songs shorter and in a different order. This was not a problem since it was such a fantastic set.

Flans started the banter by saying that this show was already better than the last time they were at Saint Andrews because that time they had played the day after Skinny Puppy and the club had still been covered in fake blood. He said later that that show was made more awful because no one came.

They had a couple of false starts on Los Angeles which Linnell took credit for "even though it looks like it is someone else."

There was some confusion on stage involving Linnell's drink. He had it on the floor under the keyboard then moved it onto the edge of Marty's drum platform. Danny went looking for something later, probably his drink, and found Linnell's and didn't know where it had come from so moved it on top of one of the amps. Danny didn't find what he was looking for though. Then Linnell went later to get his drink from behind Danny who did a "oh, that was yours?" and they both started laughing at some joke I didn't hear.

I may have Youth Culture in the wrong place by one. I missed writing it down but I know it was right in there somewhere.

The confetti canon went off the first time during Clap Your Hands, I think. It seemed to surprise Linnell a little.

When talking about their Grammy win before Seven, Flans said the "it's an honor just to win" line again. To which Linnell responded, "It is rather embarassing to be nominated" or something similar to that.

This was the best puppet show I have seen yet. Flans-puppet was obsessed with his coffee cup hat, first saying "I have a coffee cup on my head," then periodically crying "Coffee Cup" throughout the bit.

They also noticed that the puppets made shadows on the screen that looked like the hecklers from Mystery Science Theater so there were jokes about commentating on themselves. Then Flans-puppet was asking why his hat was in his mouth because the shadow of his hat was right where his mouth was on the screen. He spent some time trying to bite his shadow.

The puppets were calling themselves The Avatars, "not from that James Cameron movie," and thanked TMBG for opening for them.

When Linnell said that the next song was about a shoehorn with teeth, there was a lot of cheering but Linnell joked that it wasn't that song about a shoehorn, it was a different one.

After the puppet's two songs, Flans announced that they were back and encouraged everyone to switch to Facebook because The Avatars had taken over their MySpace page. He also offered Friendster as an alternative saying that it has come a long way.

Flans had the balcony call the first "drink" in Drink! and the floor call the second. The crowd was enthusiastic if not too timely. I had particular difficulties coming in at the right time. Linnell was having trouble getting his accordion situated and kept encouraging Flans to start without him and he'd catch up.

The nuclear reactions on the sun were caused by "Deerborn, Pontiac, Ann Arbor and some other place." When Flans refered to something as being flinty after the next song, Linnell suddenly said " Flint, that was what I was trying to think of." Flans found it very amusing that flinty had reminded him of this.

Flans said something about pandering while introducing Miasma and said they had become addicted to a drug called Pandor, the pandering drug.

When Flans introduced Dan during the band intros Dan was at the keyboard instead of holding his guitar so he did some keyboard improvising instead. Flans didn't realize this at first but when he did he made Dan get his guitar and come out to do a proper guitar solo.

Ralph did some more great, crazy sax playing at the end of Istanbul. He actually shook hands with the girl next to us while playing and almost knocked over Flans's mic stand while rolling on the floor.

When they came back for encores Flans asked Linnell to talk about the the next song, Science Is Real. Linnell went into this hilarious riff about a song where the name of the song is also the first line of the song. I wish I could remember the exact quote because it was fantastic.

During the end of the show and most of the encores the girl next to us was desperately trying to get one of the Johns to take a note from her. It was kind of annoying. She did eventually get Marty to take it after the show. Someone also threw a bag on stage during the encore which Dan picked up and tossed backstage. I hope it didn't have anything fragile in it.

At some point during the encore Flans brought out a copy of Here Comes Science and encouraged everyone to buy it because CDs are an endangered species. He also said the copies at the merch table were signed by the whole band except Ralph who would sign it after the show. Made me sorry that I already have a copy and don't need another.

After the show, Flans, Marty and the blond tech (whose name may or may not be Scott) came out to pass out bumper stickers. There was such a rush for the stage that we got stuck for a bit, pressed up against the barrier.

There was a barrier set up about a foot and a half in front of the stage to hold back the crowd, leaving a gap in front of the stage. Poor Marty leaned out too far handing out stickers and fell in the gap. He didn't fall hard and was OK but he was very startled and was stuck in the gap until everyone had stickers. He was joking with Flans about having the ambulance ready. Since I got stuck up at the front I ended up caught under Marty's arm while he handed stickers over my head. It was kind of funny.

Marty also had a rather odd fan encounter after he was back on stage when a kid was hollering at him but kept calling him Dan and wanted him to sign something but had no pen.

I have some really fantastic pictures which I'll post when I get back next week. I was actually too close to Linnell to get many good ones of him because the stage was so high that the keyboard mostly obscured him. But I finally got good pictures of Marty drumming which makes me very happy. I still don't have good puppet pictures but I'll keep trying.

St. Louis tonight. More Flood, which is appropriate since it has been raining all day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Under The Big Blue Whale

October 4, 2009 - American Museum of Natural History - New York, NY

Long day and I was already exhausted from the trip earlier in the week and working on Saturday. We had to leave at 5:00am to get to the museum before it opened. The tickets were being given out on a first come first served basis and there were only 300 per show so we wanted to be there early. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn heading into the city. I had never driven into NYC before. We always take the train. But I decided to try it this time with mixed results. Once we got the GPS to recognize the museum we were fine but we only arrived about 15 minutes before the museum opened.

We meet our friend again who had gotten there early enough to be right by the door. But boy, was the ticket distribution a cluster. A guy appeared at the top of the stairs and announced that anyone who was there for the show needed to go to a door downstairs. Most of the huge group of people waiting, including us, headed that way and we got separated from our friends. When we got to the bottom they said that you could only go in that way if you already had a ticket to the museum which most people didn't so they were pissed. They all had to go back up to the upper level. Fortunately, we did already have tickets so we were able to go in and get in line for the show tickets. Our friends got in and bought tickets on the upper level and managed to get down in line, not too far behind us. They were not giving out tickets to both shows to a single group so my boyfriend and I got four for the early show and our friends got four for the afternoon show so we were golden.

We had to wait briefly outside the theater by a giant clam before going into the hall. The show was in the Hall of Ocean Life under the life size blue whale hanging from the ceiling. There were displays of sea life all around the room and videos of various fish and such playing on an upper level. We chose a place to sit in the center about half way back from the stage. We usually try to sit further back at the family shows and leave the good spots for the kids. This turned out to be a great spot except the guys sitting in front of me were constantly leaning in front of my pictures because they were talking to each other throughout the show.

"Good morning. We don't usually get to say that."

They started off with I Never Go To Work featuring Ralph Carney "the laziest member of They Might Be Giants." They replaced the "practice trumpet everyday" line with "practice saxophone everyday."

Flans asked the kids to come down to the stage before Clap Your Hands but we stayed put to let the little kids dance.

They launched right into The Famous Polka from Clap so most of the crowd remained standing. A lot of people had sat back down by the time they started I Am A Paleontologist so we still had a great view for most of the show. Have I mentioned how much I love that song?

When Marty moved over to the electric kit Flans had him demonstrate some of the sounds.They had recorded some whale song into in so it sounded like the giant whale was singing. At least until Flans announced he had had enough and they moved on to WDTSS?

They did the slow version of Sun again. Linnell's nuclear reactions were caused by th ego, the electric drum kit and the giant whale.

Flans introduced Pirate Girls Nine. "This song is about three things, pirates - ARRRR - girls - ARRRR - and the number nine - ARRRR." He then instructed us how to count to nine but we had to do it twice because we didn't do it fast enough the first time.

Marty brought out his full assortment of noise makers for Bed Bed Bed. I really enjoy watching him and Linnell engage in a duel of funny, random noises.

Before the next song, Flans told us told us we had to pretend we were about to hear our favorite song even though we had never heard it before. It was a little silly since the album is actually out now so a lot of people at the show had probably heard the song. Roy G. Biv turned out to be the new song. Our friend had actually heard it the day before at the family show at The Egg that we were not able to attend. I had been very jealous so I was thrilled they played it.

As Marty came out to do Alphabet Lost and Found, Flans said this was the closest they would come to a boy band playing to a backing track. Marty engaged in some very silly dancing. This is one of my favorite parts of the family shows. Not only is Marty a hoot to watch he's also a great singer. And he collapses on stage at the end of the song which is just silly.

Fibber Island was introduced as They Might Be Giants tribute to imagination. They apparently strongly support the use of imagination. Fibber, as has become common lately, led immediately into Zilch. Whee!

We got the same instructions before Particle Man about clapping even though the music was going to stop. Linnell has gotten into a habit of just singing a slower version of one of the verses in the bridge lately instead of inserting another song. I sort of miss the song within a song thing.

Here come the puppets! They sang What Is A Shooting Star? again. They were very funny but I can't remember a word they said. Anybody else remember?

The - the - the - the - Alphabet of Nations! It is too bad that Dan's new keyboard is kind of tucked back on the stage. I like watching him play.

Upon consultation we believe that the confetti canon was launched during Nations ( feel free to correct me). The confetti today was shiny instead of paper. There were little squares mixed in with pink elephant, number two, crescent moon and breast cancer ribbon shapes. New confetti for the confetti bag!

Linnell continues to sing "information" in My Brother the Ape. I haven't remembered to go back to the CD and re-listen to see what he sings on the album. Hmmm?

Flans let lots of kids play his guitar at the beginning of Older. He was actually played chords while the kids played so it made a really neat sound and it was adorable how excited the kids were to play.

Danny announced that Saturday was Dan Miller's birthday and had us sing Happy Birthday to him. Dan looked completely caught off guard and embarrassed. He gave Danny a very "I can't believe you just did that" look.

Then Danny asked us to help him remember the words to Where Do They Make Balloons? In case you ever wondered, apparently many balloons are made in India.

They did Seven (very successful with the kids) before introducing the band. Flans had us take turns screaming for Marty: first the dads, then the moms, then the kids, then everyone under the whale.

They closed with Doctor Worm. For an encore the did Meet the Elements. Linnell inserted the whale into the list of things containing elements. Istanbul was the very last song and oddly many people left before the encore was over so a lot of people missed it. Ralph is a great showman and really played well to the kids.

After the show Flans, Marty and the blond tech who I always see but whose name I don't know (anybody?) gave out new bumper stickers based on the new website design. As we left the Hall we also got new and incredibly adorable Science stickers. There is one of the dancing anteater from Ape. Yay!

Between shows we wandered into the Hall of Meteorites and touched the oldest thing you can touch (it's a piece of a meteor) which is several billion years old.

We got a spot on the left at the second show and mostly remained standing for the show because there was a guy in front of us with a kid on his shoulders that we couldn't see over. Most of the people behind us went up to the front to dance anyway. There were a couple of women behind us with no kids who were ecstatic when they played Istanbul. They were jumping and screaming. It was pretty funny.

Things that were different at the second show:

6lans changed his shirt to a lovely plaid.

Flans sang the lyrics to The Famous Polka! It seemed to be a last minute decision but it made me ever so happy as I have never heard it with the lyrics before.

Danny announced that he is a paleontologist before singing the song.

The nuclear reactions on the sun are caused by the electric guitar inside the sun, the guitar's management and the guitar's promoter.

Flans asked if we could count to ten before Pirate Girls and when no one did he said we would try nine.

Linnell said he was going to go to bed before singing Bed."This is not an introduction to a song. It really is my bedtime."

The whale was inserted into a couple of songs.

Marty's whale in his electric drum was apparently being chased by the police for speeding because he also made a police siren sound. "Do you know why I pulled you over Mr. Whale?"

Dan messed up a line in Seven but Linnell made some amusing "taking on the telephone" hand gestures to make up for it.

More new confetti. This time is was butterflies, followed by more elephants later. "Hey, who let in all these elephants?"

There was other funny stuff. I think it has been lost in my exhaustion. If I remember anything else I'll add it. If you were there, please add anything I've forgotten in the comments. I'll also link in some pictures when I get back to my computer next week. Detroit tomorrow. The road trip is underway!