Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Awesome Weekend Part Two

September 25, 2010 - Mohegan Sun - Wolf Den - 5th Annual Audience Appreciation Show

"Rock, Rinse, Repeat" is the theme of this whole weekend. I want a t-shirt with that printed on it.

Damn, I don't think this weekend could get any better.

This recap is going to have a large pre-show section, as one of my favorite things about the Mohegan shows is that you line up on a little ramp leading into the club, hours before the show and thus get to watch sound check and all of the comings and goings onstage and off. It's going to be very speculative on my part as, though I could see what was going on, I couldn't hear any of what was said so I'm basically making up what it looked like was happening.

We got to Mohegan at about 2:30 for 6:30 doors. There was only one group and a couple of our friends already in line so that timing seemed to work pretty well. Marty was on stage when we arrived, putting together pieces of the drum kit and testing everything out. I was amused watching him repeatedly move the bongo until it was in exactly the right spot. He's nothing if not a perfectionist.

I spent the next couple of hours writing the re-cap of Friday's show, occasionally looking up to check on the activity on the stage. I watched Vince and Scott spend about 15 minutes trying to get the accordion mic'd up properly. They seemed to be having issues. At one point David came out holding something that was either a small mic or a piece of wire or connector and they all stared at it for a bit like they were either trying to figure out what it was and where it went or if it would help fix the accordion problem. I'm obviously speculating, but it made me want to write a bad joke about how many techs it takes to mic an accordion.

I was very surprised to see Scott going around and doing all the sound level checks on all the mics and instruments. Usually I just see him talking to people and laying out towels and water, but this trip he was much more active in the actual sound work. Turns out there was a reason for that, which I didn't realize until Sunday. But with Will not there, Scott was on monitors all weekend. How odd. Last time I saw the tour manager on monitors (different guy, back at LPR) it did not go well. This seemed to go much better, though he was getting a lot of direction from the stage. My favorite part of his sound check was that he kept saying the word "sibilance" into the microphones. I wanted to get a picture of him testing the drums to add to my collection of people other than Marty playing the drums but I wasn't fast enough.

As time went on, I saw lots of the band wander in. Both Flans and Linnell snuck in through the side at different times. Curt and Dan Levine wandered in the front with horns in tow. Danny came in past us still limping pretty badly. Marty reappeared from somewhere. Dan and Stan must have snuck in while I wasn't looking.

Sound check got going slowly. At first it was just Dan and Danny on the stage tuning up. Danny futzed around with Linnell's keyboard a bit. Then for a while the two of them were just chilling, sitting on the side of the drum platform while Dan practiced a little tune. I quite liked the image of them sitting side by side, hanging out while all the techs worked around them.

Eventually, the rest of the band came out. Linnell went over to his keyboard and started recreating the ever present casino noise with the Kaoss pad and the sound effects, with the ambient G note and the bells and ringing of the slot machines. It was remarkably accurate. Megan pointed out that Flans sampled a bit of the riff from Hotel Detective, which I didn't notice until she said it. Flans also turned on the camera for the Avatars to get it set at the right height and focus and was holding his bare hand in front of the camera as if it was in the sock puppet. This naked puppet was of course displayed on the giant screen above the club for all to see. Totally indecent.

To my surprise, they sound checked Canajoharie and Duende. I guess I don't really get to count those performances in the total number of times I've heard the new songs but it was still cool. They actually did  part of Canajoharie twice. They all milled around for a bit while Marty tested out the electric drums. Danny attempted to play something on Linnell's keyboard for Dan but it didn't come out very well. It wasn't anything I recognized but they seemed entertained by it. At Flans', instruction Marty started playing a pretty groovy little beat on the electric kit that seemed to meet Flans' approval. Then they all started to wander off. Linnell went exploring up to the top of the rocks that look down over the club and surveyed his surroundings.

Eventually, Marty was left all alone on the stage, still working out something on the electric drums. He plugged away at it for a while before Danny came out to check on him. It looked like he was waiting for him to go do something, probably get food, as he kept checking his watch. After a few more minutes, Marty finally left with him.

We were the highly entertained witnesses to Iggy trying to walk through the swinging half door that led into the sound and lighting station and accidently walking into the solid panel next to it. I'm sorry to say we got a good laugh at his expense but he was laughing too so I don't feel too bad. It really was quite funny.

Doors opened pretty promptly at 6:30. The stage in the Wolf Den is a half circle surrounded on all sides (well, except the back) by rows of tables. There is a ring of booths around the tables and then a second level with more tables above that. We were seated, with Megan, Stacy and Steve at table almost all the way over on the left side so we were looking across the stage rather than at the front. Unfortunately, all our other friends got seated at tables on the other side so we were about as far away from them as we could be. We also had one solo fan seated with us in our sixth seat, who seemed like a pretty nice guy but I never got his name.

It seemed like we were going to be at an unusual angle to the stage but with a pretty good view of everything on the left, namely, Linnell, Danny and Marty. It actually seemed like, from my seated view at the table, I might be able to actually see Marty without a cymbal obscuring his face for once. However, this was not to be the case. I'll get to that in a minute.

I finally bought one of the red 8 bit rock tote bags that I've been wanting. I'm not 100% sure what I am going to carry in it but I just knew I wanted one.

Somewhere in the hour and a half we waited inside the club before the show started, Danny walked past our table and said hey and asked how I was. I said, "Good. How are you?" "I've been better," he said as he hobbled up the stairs to the door to the stage. I said, "I can tell," which in retrospect is kind of a creepy thing to say but I only meant I could see that he was limping. Poor Danny. The man was hurting.

Before the show started, I went to go to the restroom which is just outside the back of the club. The employees give you a little pass to get back in as you leave. Curt was walking out just in front of me and the employee tried to stop him to give him a pass. He looked at her very confused and said, "Um, I'm in the band." She didn't seem to know what to make of that and let him go to the bathroom without a pass. I thought it was kind of funny.

Just before the band came on, David came out and started piling green foams fingers on the front of the stage and the drum platform. We were pretty surprised, given that the free fingers had been advertised for the Town Hall shows not Mohegan and have been largely reserved for family shows lately. The show started with the horns coming down some steps in the rock face at the back of the stage and playing a fanfare. The band came out on stage and unlike at Life is Good, Flans and Linnell both went immediately to the piles of foam fingers and started tossing them out into the crowd. David also came out and started passing out the piles on our side of the stage and I think someone was doing the same on the other side. This became kind of a cluster fuck as everyone got up from their tables and flooded in from the side to get fingers. Many of them were just thrown at random.

There was gradually a group of people who remained standing around the front edge of the stage rather than returning to their seats. Typical practice at Mohegan has been for everyone to remain seated. My first year there, there were a few people who stood at the first show but they were in the minority. The second night I think I did end up standing up because someone stood in front of me but most people stayed put. Last year no one stood around the stage. Personally, I am always for standing (and there were tables missing from right in front of the stage as if they had been removed for this purpose), but I was afraid that the people coming in from the back to get fingers were going to take advantage and stand in front of our table before we got up and block our view. I couldn't decide what to do.

Finger distribution on our side continued while the band started She's An Angel. Same wonderfully weird horn intro played from the steps and then the horns descended to the stage.

Flans ended my debate on standing versus not standing by calling everyone to stand up, come forward and get a better spot. We popped right up next to the stage in front of us. I found out later that our friend Emily, who had been among the first to remain standing at the stage after getting her finger, had been about to head back to her seat when she realized no one else was standing when Flans mouthed "don't leave" to her and she stayed put, basically starting the stage standing trend. Obviously, Flans was having none of this sit down show nonsense.

We did Clap Your Hands. I discovered that it is somewhat more embarrassing to be hopping up and down right next to the stage when you also happen to make eye contact with Danny while doing so. To quote Megan, "Don't look at me. I'm being undignified!"

Stage side, I ended up with a somewhat different view that I expected. I couldn't see Marty after all, except the front of his shirt because he was, once again, behind a cymbal. My view was dominated by Danny and Linnell's pants. I could see the rest of Linnell if I craned my neck up. I also had a pretty clear view to Dan when he was behind his keyboard but not when he moved forward. Flans moved in and out and I could see the horns only really when Danny moved out of the way. But I have definitely had worse. Far worse.

TMBG 9/25/10 #2

I don't remember the exact placement of the banter at the beginning of the show, but Flans did a very early mini round of introduce the band. He welcomed us all to the 5th Annual Audience Appreciation show at the Wolf Den and commented that they had only just realized they had been incorrectly calling it the Wolf's Den for years. There was some howling. He yelled, "I say Connecticut, you say Connecticut. Connecticut. Connecticut." He obviously wasn't satisfied with the amount of call back he got as he then yelled, "I don't think you people know where you are."

Linnell asked if the stuffed wolves outside the club had been moving last year because he was finding them distracting. (They were animatronic and their tails wagged.) Flans yelled, "No, they were real!" Linnell said, "No. When we were here last year," or something to that effect. To which Flans replied, "No. They were real. And I was winning!" So funny.

Flans gave kudos to David, their stage manager. He said that there were a lot of types of rock stage set-ups and theirs was known as the "too much shit to fit" configuration and that David did an excellent job cramming it all onto the very round stage.

They played The Guitar, Hey Mr. Dj, Birdhouse, Fingertips and Particle Man. If there was any notable banter in that run I've forgotten it. Linnell commented on the bridge of Particle Man moving to a minor key but just re-sang the verse slowly rather than inserting a song. He did mess up a Triangle Man and a Particle Man at the beginning though and was shaking his head at himself. Throughout the show Flans kept kneeling down at the front of the stage to play guitar and to sing, so he was right in the faces of the people in the front row. He did it during a number of songs but I know Birdhouse was one of them. He also did a spectacular ad lib in I'm Having A Heart Attack, that had me cackling like a looney.

TMBG 9/25/10 #3

TMBG 9/25/10 #4

They started using bits of Frankenstein to intro the Avatars segment this weekend. And I was repeatedly amused by Linnell using his hand with the puppet on it to adjust his mic so the puppets mouth was wrapped around it. For some reason though, the puppet segment at Mohegan is mostly a void in my mind. I know Blue Avatar mentioned his soul patch again. I'm pretty sure there was a joke about their 2013 album and possibly about Avatar the movie. Meg Ryan reappeared. Megan has just reminded me that Blue Avatar said that he and his soul patch would be hanging out in the poker room after the show. There was definite recitation of "It is our pleasure to serve you." I know there was at least one other thing in there that I laughed pretty hard at but unless one of you remembers what it was, it's probably lost in the bowels on my memory. They did Shooting Star. Danny took what looked like a welcome opportunity to sit down while he played. They did the Odd Couple music as the outro.

Flans left the camera on, pointed at the crowd while they played Whistling in the Dark. The image vibrated with each bang on the drum until the camera wobbled out of place and was pointed down at Flans. Scott popped up on stage and reset it.

I think I forgot to mention that the whole show was actually displayed on the giant screen above the club. So if you were in the back you could actually watch it on JumboTron. They used it for the puppets too, making them much larger than usual.

For reasons I don't remember, Flans at one point asked Iggy to turn the house lights on so he could see everyone in the crowd. But he had to ask several times before they actually went on. I guess Iggy was busy.

They did We Live in a Dump, which I am realizing is a wonderful song live. Then Flans said that the next song was from their upcoming album and they played Canajoharie. The sound quality was much better tonight and I could understand more of the lyrics. I found myself intently listening while Linnell sang trying to catch them. I still couldn't get a lot of them. But it is a pretty typical Linnell song. It's rather State Songs esque. And it's a total earworm. Even though I don't know the words and have only heard it the 2/3 times (plus the very poor audio quality YouTube video that has sparked so much controversy) I have had it lodged in my head ever since. Every second I am not actively thinking about something that tune is playing in my head. I laid down to go to sleep last night and it was blaring in my ears as if I was actually listening to it. I guess that is the mark of a good song, if it can get that driven into my brain. At this point I would pretty much kill for a version with better audio so I could at least hear the lyrics and stop driving myself crazy trying to figure them out. Oh, and Linnell sang the majority of the song while standing on his toes leaning into the mic which I thought was cute. The live performances did not help answer the debate over live or synthed accordion that arose after the clip video was posted because he played it on keyboard.

TMBG 9/25/10 #14

Memo to Human Resources. Withered Hope. Keyboard riff. Whee! Then they played Duende without even mentioning that it was a new song. At first I was impressed that Flans was doing it without his lyrics sheet, but then I realized that he was singing all crouched down again and he had the lyrics taped to the back side of one of the speakers on the front of the stage. Linnell had his glasses on again. I was so close to him that he was towering over me the whole show. Duende is less easy to compare to any of their other songs. It really is a march. Flans sings the first verse, then Linnell, then it's back to Flans with Linnell doing some harmony. I went back and rewatched the little clips of both songs that Flans posted on YouTube and they are both pretty instantly recognizable once you have heard the songs. Without weighing in on Canajohariegate, I will say I am sorry not to have a recording of Duende to listen to myself, because, while it did not make as much of an impression on me as Canajoharie, I did quite like it.

Finally, to our everlasting relief, they played Purple Toupee and Stacy finally, FINALLY, got to hear her song. Ok, now it's my turn, right? Yeah, I know. Keep dreaming.

Your Racist Friend. Horn crazy! Doctor Worm. Yup, still love that song. Ana Ng. Seriously, next to the keyboard part of Withered Hope, the bass part in Ana Ng is pretty much my most favorite thing ever played by a musician. Damn Good Times. Killer guitar solo. Dan nailed that one down.

TMBG 9/25/10 #15

Marty moved over to the electric kit for Nonagon. Flans said that this was almost the first performance of the song, that they had played it the night before but that didn't really count. He said they were reviving New Wave with a song about polygons. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but this song it actually one of my favorites from 123s but I always forget about it. I'm glad they've started playing it live.

Marty stayed at the electric kit after the song and started playing the beat he had been doing at sound check. They launched a whole new band intro thing with Marty kickin' it on the electric drums the whole time. I actually kind of missed Graveyard a little because I didn't feel like the guys got as much of a chance to show off but I really liked the rhythm Marty was playing. It would appear that that was what he was working on for so long after sound check; working out the rhythm and programming the effects in the electric drums. We cheered for Marty first instead of last. Then Danny, who was then joined by Dan Levine. Then Stan and lastly Curt. Dan Miller didn't get a go at all. Flans just introduced him with Linnell and then they played The Mesopotamians.

For the encore, the Avatars came back out and did Stalk of Wheat. They thanked TMBG for opening the show for them and made some comment about them eating all the food back stage. There were some particularly great puppet facial expressions during the song. Afterward, they pointed the camera back at Meg Ryan and Flans yelled, "I say Meg, you say Ryan" and we did some ridiculous call and repeat while he spun the camera back and forth between the Avatars and the cutout. It was kind of insane.

And very lastly, they did Istanbul, which is, probably, one of the most spectacular versions of it that I have seen. Flans made a last minute decision, on stage, to have Dan do the intro instead of the horns which he was indicating to them all just before they started. I don't know if he felt bad about skipping Dan in the band intros and wanted to give him some time to shine or what. Maybe he was just really digging Dan's guitar playing tonight. Dan seemed a little surprised but was game and turned out a fantastic performance. Most of the time he was playing, Flans stood with his back to the audience watching Dan on the giant screen, like he was watching from the audience instead of the stage.

The horns still got their chance to show off at the end with some phenomenal improv, particularly from Curt. And they did not one, not two, but THREE fake endings. Flans did his "we gotta go, we gotta go schtick" but just kept revving the guys up for another round. By the third go round, Curt had to briefly defer to Dan and Stan to take point for a minute while he took a second to breath. One thing is for certain, Flans certainly knows how to drive the guys to end a show on a high note. Literally. Wow!

TMBG 9/25/10 #29

We once again flunked at setlist obtaining. Megan got one though. David's really kind of a tease with the things, swooping them past people's hands while he picks someone to hand it to. I've been totally spoiled.

Damn, really good show.

Now I'll get to work on the Town Hall recaps. I think I remember those a bit more clearly, but we'll see.

The rest of the pictures are up in the usual spot. I've unofficially dubbed this album 1001 pictures of Danny Weinkauf. I also went back and added some pictures in to the Lupo's recap so go back and check those out too if you already read that one.

TMBG 9/25/10 #28

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 9/29/10

Jamie strikes again.

"He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth." Shoehorn with Teeth - They Might Be Giants

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Awesome Weekend Part One

September 24, 2010 - Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel - Providence, RI


I am still reeling from last night's show. My face is actually sore from smiling so much. I think I watched most of the show with a stupid grin on my face. And for hours afterward we all just kept saying "oh my god, that show."

We seem plagued by bizarre travel issues getting to shows this fall. Due to another one, we didn't get to Lupo's until about an hour before doors. But our very awesome friends saved us spots in line which I will be forever grateful for as we wouldn't have been able to get in the front otherwise.

If you read blog reports from our spring shows you will actually get this joke. Getting into the club we were actually forced to wait for Scott. There were two rows to get in and Scott was talking to the ticket taker in our row and preventing her from taking tickets. So people that were behind in line got in first because they were in the other row. Curses, Scott!

It didn't actually matter once we got inside. There was still plenty of stage front room. There was a large speaker on the floor in front of the stage on the right hand side and we took spots around it. It was a little weird since it didn't seem to have much of a purpose but it did kind of give me an excuse to stand at an angle to the stage which proved to be an almost perfect view. The only person I couldn't see was Marty because he was behind Linnell.

There was an opener even though one hadn't been announced. They claimed not to have a name but for this show went by the name The Jess Powers Project. It was a woman in a very short black dress that was see through in the back. There were two guitar players in cool hats, a drummer who made ridiculous faces while he played and a guy with an upright bass. They did very free form jazzy style music but with bluesy vocals. They were OK. The music was actually pretty good but I could have done without the vocals. It seemed like an odd pairing with TMBG. The singer didn't even look like the sort of person who would ever even have heard of TMBG.

They have swapped out a lot of their regular crew for this tour. Iggy's still there of course but they had David with them as guitar tech, as Victor is, presumably, still out on tour with OK Go. They had Vince on sound, who was the guy they had with them on their fall tour. I don't even know who they had on monitors because it wasn't Will and I never identified which of the other guys wandering around was the other tech and which were the club employees.

There were people sitting in the balconey who had printed out a giant sign that said She's An Angel to hang on the railing. Apparently the band was feeling obliging because that was the first song they played when they came out, complete with excellently weird horn intro. Once I figured out they definitely weren't starting with a new song, I realized what they were playing immediately but I could tell that most of the people around me didn't identify the song until the lyrics started. Linnell had one of the fans pointing straight at him during this song so he was looking particularly windswept while playing the accordion.

They ripped right into Damn Good Times next, with a particularly excellent guitar solo from Dan.

Then Hey, Mr. DJ which was wonderful since our friends had heard it at soundcheck before we got there. It's been a while since I heard that one and I have missed it. It is one of my favorites to hear live.

Then Flans announced that they were going to play something brand new. He pulled out a copy of John Hershey's Hiroshima which had lyrics sheets in it for him to cheat off of. He said that we would have to forgive them for all the pauses and messed up lyrics because it was a new song. A woman it the audienced yelled, "It's cute." Flans replied, "It's not cute lady, it's fucking sad. We've been doing this for 25 years." This got a lot of cheers, though secretly I wanted to yell "28."

They played Duende, though Flans said that it is called Three Might Be Duende. I don't know how much to trust him, but regardless it is the song we got the teaser of on YouTube back in June. It's primarily a Flans song though Linnell also sings a verse. He put on these serious coke bottle lens glasses for the song so he could see the lyrics on his keyboard.The sound quality on the mics in Lupo's was pretty terrible so I could barely make out any of the lyrics. But my initial thought was that the song is going to be a bitch to deceifer for the wiki without a lyric sheet because there were so many words. I really liked it despite not being able to hear the lyrics. It sounds like a march, which is in fact mentioned in the opening lyrics. I am looking forward to hearing it again tonight, hopefully with better sound.

TMBG 9/24/10 #1

They played Museum of Idiots which is a great song to do with the full horn section (which they had btw). I was happy to hear it again since that was the song I spaced out on at The Stone Pony. And speaking of, they followed with Asbury Park. They seem to really enjoy doing that one. Then Meet the Elements.

Marty moved to the electric kit and gave a little sound demo. Flans said that while we were at the show there were guys at our house breaking into our bedroom windows and this was their soundtrack. Then he said the police were coming as Marty flashed the siren sound but he didn't leave it going and Flans was forced to retract his statement. Then Marty realized he had missed the cue and turned the siren back on for a second.

Flans had already mentioned their Grammy for 123s while Marty was setting up. Linnell announced that the next song was about polygons which meant they weren't saving Nonagon for the kids show. Loved it! Linnell drew the shapes of the polygons in the air as he sang them. He almost messed up a lyric near the beginning and made a cute little embarressed face. Oddly, this was the only song they used the electric drums for.

Back to familiar territory. Doctor Worm. Danny didn't do his leap. He seems to have injured himself as he was limping. At some point in the set he had Scott go on a beer run for him which amused me. The Guitar, which featured an awesome sax solo from Stan. So, so very good with the horns.

Then the Avatars. Green Avatar did some coughing. Blue Avatar asked him if he had just quite smoking. He said no, he was still on fire. Then there was the obligatory joke about menthol cigarettes. They flipped up the Meg Ryan cutout from the spring tour and announced she was in the house. Green Avatar moved around to the front of the camera to pose with her and asked someone to take his picture.

Blue Avatar was wearing a piece of black electrical tape as a soul patch which he pointed out to all of us. He told us the next song featured the disco ball of Lupo's. He then listed the things the ladies of Lupo's loved: soul patches, his right eye and the disco ball. Then they played Shooting Star with Danny sitting on the side of the drum platform while he played.

They left the camera on after the song while they went on to play Whistling in the Dark and the image on the screen shook with each bang Flans made on the bass drum. They had most of the lights turned off for the song and turned the lights on in Marty's drums for a flashy disco effect.

I don't know if it was right after that song or not but they did a little demo of the light show on the drums with multiple colored lights that was pretty cool.

They announced another never before played song that they were going to practice on us before the Town Hall shows on Sunday. They started How Many Planets? but Flans forgot to come in on Venus and he called a do over. I presume they have been rehearing it with Robin for Sunday and he forgot she wasn't there and he needed to do her part. The voices they used were awesome, especially when they were both imitating Robin's girl part. And most excellent Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.

Flans talked about the Cast Your Pod disc before they played We Live in a Dump. Then they did Au Contraire which I have never heard before and was very excited about. It was particularly funny as we had been talking about it in the car on the way down.

Then they announced another new song. Linnell told us to "Cool it with the YouTube shit. These songs are rough. I can't wait to watch myself saying cool it with the YouTube shit on YouTube tomorrow." They did Canajoharie which I only recognized because that was the chorus. I couldn't understand a single other lyric. But I liked the music. It has horns.

They followed with Memo to Human Resources. Then The Else section of the show with Withered Hope, Bee of the Bird of the Moth, and (hurrah!) With the Dark. Sweet!

Then Linnell said they were going to play a song from the Lincoln album. Flans said it was actually 1988 and told Linnell it was time to quit that job. Then we all just about DIED when they started playing Purple Toupee. One, because none of my group had ever heard it live before and two because it is the song our friend Stacy has been waiting for since she started following the band and she wasn't able to come to the show. I believe there was audible screaming from our side of the room. Now if I could just hear Man, It's So Loud in Here. Are you guys listening? Please?

I was still reeling all the way through Your Racist Friend. Then Flans asked Linnell to start playing Graveyard. Danny picked up his empty beer bottle and started using it as a slide on his bass. I hope someone somewhere has a picture of that.

Flans did band intros. We did the normal chant for Danny then Flans said "I say Weinkauf, you say Danny" and we did a little call and repeat bit. When it got to Marty's solo Flans went up and stopped him while he was wrecking his kit and told him to save some for later.

They finished with Birdhouse and a particularly good version at that.

When they came back there was obviously some confusion. Flans and Linnell went to do the puppets but everyone seemed to be expecting something else. Danny ended up having to walk over and ask what they were doing. Turned out they had flipped the order of the encores from the setlist. They did Stalk of Wheat with the puppets. After the segment Linnell made a comment about how one of the puppets never bathes and the other is a homosexual. I wonder which is which.

I was a little distracted for the encore because I got the sense that something had gone wrong on stage. I'm not sure if it was technical problems or what happened but the vibe definitely changed. Flans left the stage briefly at some point (possibly not even in the encore) telling Linnell to tell the crowd about their upcoming shows while he took care of some business backstage. Linnell told us they were playing at a casino the next day. Many people in the crowd made wolf howling noises. Linnell made some himself. Then he said they were playing at Town Hall but he couldn't remember when. I said Sunday but so did someone on stage so I don't know who he heard when he repeated it.

They did Istanbul with a nice horn introduction but without a second fake ending. There was one song where they did the confetti launch but Flans stopped it short, I can't remember if it was that one or not. There was a lot of confetti and people kept throwing it in the air.

They came back for the second encore and started Alphabet of Nations but Linnell didn't sing. He seemed to think his mic wasn't working even though he did sing the first Zimbabwe and it was working fine. He made Flans do all of the first two rounds then tried to steal Flans' mic for the bridge. Flans wouldn't let him have it and gestured for him to use his own. He did and proceeded to tip over with it standing on one leg. The whole thing was weird and funny and followed by an excellent Guatemala.

TMBG 9/24/10 #3

They did Twisting, a song that I am getting a little tired of thanks to all the Flood shows. Flans reminded us to come to the casino show the next day and said we could be there in a couple of hours if we drove very recklessly. They closed out the show with The Mesopotamians.

TMBG 9/24/10 #12

We weren't able to get a setlist after the show because, without Victor, we lost out hook up. David threw several of them out into the crowd and gave one more away to someone else. A couple of my friends managed to snag ones so I have pictures.

I only have a few pictures from the show. I had resolved not to use my camera at this show because I was tired of loosing whole songs to the camera lens. But there were a few shots I couldn't pass up. I'm not sure the no pictures thing was the best idea since it just meant I watched the whole show thinking "wow, that would make a great picture." I gave up during the encore and took a bunch. There are a couple of good ones.

This show is definitely going into my Top 5. It really was that good and the setlist was one of the best I have ever heard. It was a very successful start to the BEST WEEKEND EVER. Stay tuned for Awesome Weekend Part Two (which I have been standing in line for while I wrote this).

Edit: I added some pictures in and there are a few more on Flickr, almost all from the encore.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stage Announcements - 9/24/10

Most of the news from this week came out early so I am sure you have already seen it, but I'll reiterate here anyway.

Linnell is the Geek of the Week over on Geek Girls on the Street. You can read their interview with him here. (I especially like the part about Hot Dog! for some reason.)

Linnell was also interviewed on the Lab Out Loud podcast this week. It's a great interview, very science heavy with some good insights into the creation of Here Comes Science.

DC Urban Dad interviewed Flansburgh and managed to get pretty much the best quote ever in answer to the question "If you had to sum up your life to date in three words what would they be?"

In a slightly odd tidbit, it seems that the Johns and Marty played a private event last weekend at party celebrating the opening of a bakery called The Cupcake Corral in Maplewood, NJ. I would have liked to have been there if free cupcakes were available. There is a picture from Twitter here:

This weekend is our big 4 TMBG show bash. Three new songs promised tonight and tomorrow and three never played before kid songs on Sunday plus an appearance by Robin whom I have never seen before. I am so excited I am almost vibrating. Stay tuned here throughout the weekend for write-ups, etc. I'll update the wiki too if someone else doesn't get there first.

In the words of John Flansburgh, "Rock, Rinse, Repeat."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 9/22/10

This one was Megan's idea which I did a somewhat somewhat shoddy job executing. I was in a hurry. Fault the execution not the idea.


"You might need to stare to see the mittens in our hair." Fibber Island - They Might Be Giants

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Site Specific Music

First off, I'm sorry I skipped Audience Participation last Monday. I was so flattened by work it was all I could do to finish the Life is Good write-up. As we head into this weekend show heavy autumn you can generally expect a show write-up on any Monday after a show, in lieu of Audience Participation, unless I get super motivated. Normally it takes me so long to do the write-ups that with work, one entry is all I have time for. I hope nobody minds too terribly.

Second, does anyone have any suggestions or requests for topics they'd like me to cover in Audience Participation? I'm starting to run a little light on ideas.

And third, Venue Songs! I promised when I mentioned Venue Songs in my countdown that I'd share my list of favorites so here you go. I think Venue Songs has a higher concentration of songs I love than any other "album." Of course there are a lot more songs so that's probably not a fair comparison. I was going to do a top 5 list until I realized there was no possible way I could narrow it down to just 5, so I'm going with 10.

It is frankly mind boggling how many really good little tunes came out of this project considering they were all written the day of the show. When I get my time machine, I am totally going back to see them all in their original performance. Any time I see that they have played one of the non-studio released venue songs on a return trip to a venue, I enjoy picturing the guys, before soundcheck, all huddled around a recording, trying to figure out how the heck the song goes again. We actually got a little taste of that in Asheville this spring, since we were outside while they were soundchecking and could hear them hashing out The Orange Peel once more.

So here is my list:

10. Houston - I actually really like the music to this one. It's a rockin' little tune.

9. Columbia - Someone I know once dubbed this to be the happiest song the band has ever written. I can't say I disagree. It's like a Shirley Temple song.

8. Albany - I don't know if I would like this one as well as I do if I had not personally experienced The Egg on multiple occasions. It so deserves this song. Plus it's the first venue song I ever heard in it's venue.

7. Asheville - There is just something about the way Linnell says "orange" that is amusing. And the song makes a great sing-a-long. But it wasn't until we were crossing the French Broad River in March that I realized that was what the line in the song was. I guess I just never thought to look it up.

6. Minneapolis - I can not listen to this song without laughing. Just the mental image of all the guys in a huge screaming, throwing stuff fight (because I find that so unlikely) and then coming out to rock the shit out of the stage.

5. London - Silly, silly, silly song. I am so sad this club isn't there anymore so I will never get the chance to hear this one live. Ah, the trials and tribulations of being on the road.

4. Towson - "This will make more sense as we go." Really John? Will it? This is how I feel every time there is a show I can't go to.

3. Vancouver - Sometimes I am tempted to get a monocle, just so I can be the girl in this song. Love this one. Music and words.

2. Pittsburgh - Happy, happy song. So bouncy and rockin'.  This is one of my favorite videos too.

1. Los Angeles - I think this songs stands on its own, outside of being a Venue Song, better that any of the others. It's just a great song. When I was making my list of favorite songs, this was the Venue Song that almost made it onto the list. It would definitely be in my top 50. And another great video.

Now, you must all participate or the Deranged Millionaire will continue to stare at you from your computer screen delivering biting commentary until you give in.

TMBG 12/31/09 #8

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stage Announcements - 9/17/10

Yay, I actually have stuff to share today :-)

The band appeared on WERS radio station last Saturday. It was a lovely little interview which sadly, they have not posted online as best as I can tell. However, they have given us a few nice photos and a couple of videos from the Life Is Good Festival last weekend and a few bonus interview questions on their website. also had a short interview with the Johns right before their show last weekend with some promising tidbits about the new album. I've also included the link to their review of the Life Is Good Festival because I like the quote about TMBG rocking harder than some of the headliners.

And finally, in case you missed it, Flansburgh has promised us new songs at both the Lupo's and Mohegan Sun shows next weekend!! Woohoo! You can not even comprehend how excited I am about this. Oh, wait. You are all crazy TMBG fans. You probably can :-P

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 9/15/10


"But I'm thinking of a wooden chair in the room at the top of the stair." - A Self Called Nowhere - They Might Be Giants

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Life IS Good Part Two

September 12, 2010 - Life Is Good Festival - Canton, MA

Another fine, fine day at the Life is Good Festival. Well, ok, the weather wasn't quite as nice, kinda gloomy and windy, but other than that. Got there before they opened the gates this time thanks to not riding around on a shuttle bus for an hour. Only had to wait for about 20 minutes before we got to go in. TMBG played an earlier set today so we planned to go hang out in the Good Kids tent for the one earlier band (The Sippy Cups again) to get a decent spot. We wandered around a little bit before then because there was a giant piece of equipment in the tent hanging a balloon sculpture but we were still early enough to snag one of the squashy bean bag chairs so we didn't have to sit on the ground.

We saw the entirety of The Sippy Cups set this time. They are quite entertaining, I have to say. I suppose silly childish humor has to appeal to you in order to find them so as an adult but that is pretty much right up my alley. They did an almost identical set to yesterday. There was an interlude between songs that I had missed where Sippy Doug came out dressed in a Napoleon-esque costume with a stuffed horse attached to it and pretended the horse could talk. The comedy was weak but the costume was funny.

The Sippy Cups 9/12 #5

There was lots of good crew watching to be had. Victor turned up which surprised me since he wasn't there the day before and the other guitar tech (whose name, I have learned, is David) was still there. It looked like he was just there to say hi which confused me until I saw him later teching for OK Go. That explains that then. Their set-up routine was super quick since they only had a half hour to turn from one band to the next. (This seemed kind of cruel considering the bands on the rock stages all had an hour. Do they think that just because a band plays kids music, they need less set-up time?) There was a funny moment when the Life Is Good guy that was MCing the stage came out to make the pre-show announcement and started to use Dan's mic right where David was trying to tune guitars. It looked like David told the guy rather bluntly to get out of the way. The guy stopped mid sentence and was all flustered and went looking for his mic that he hadn't brought up with him until one of the other techs set him up on Linnell's mic. Whoops.

Saw all of the band wander by at one point or another before the set, except Linnell. Confirmed presence of red pants. Was happy. Right before the set Scott came out and set up tons of packages of foam fingers on the sides of the stage but then walked away. I assumed they couldn't be starting yet if they hadn't passed out the hands but then Hot Dog came blasting out of the speakers. And I mean BLASTING. It was loud and startling. In retrospect, in makes sense since the setlist says "Hot Dog! Loud!" The guys all came out on stage with Scott and David and everyone except Linnell and Marty started passing out foam fingers. Flans told us all to move closer to the front to get fingers and make friends. We ended up closer to the front than the day before and with a view slightly to the left but I still couldn't see Linnell thanks to a little girl on her dad's shoulders. Linnell looked like he wanted nothing to do with the finger distribution. He was just standing in the middle of the stage with his arms crossed. Typical Linnell.

Flans introduced everyone while they passed out fingers, including Scott and David (this is how I learned his name). Danny started flinging the last of the fingers on his side out into the crowd since he couldn't reach any more people who didn't have one. They then started Alphabet of Nations. Part way through, Danny noticed someone he knew in the front row and stopped playing to shake hands and was then trying to express his delight over seeing the person without using his hands when he went back to playing which was kind of funny. Throughout the set there were big balloons being bounced around the crowd and Flans had to bop one off the stage. There was a funny moment when a mom in front of us went to put her little girl on her shoulders and accidently bounced the girl's head into a balloon on her way up.

They did Particle Man and it seemed like they were just playing yesterday's set backwards but they changed it up quite a bit later. Linnell did a slow version of the lyrics in the bridge and made a comment about it being in a minor key because it had gotten all sad.  I believe whatever ad libbing that followed is what Flans was making this face about. (Side note: actually I just went and watching someone's video and I think the face is actually directed at the audience for not clapping loudly enough.)

TMBG 9/12/10 #3

Scott ran on stage and handed Flans a note. He looked at it and said "Oh right" and then made an announcement about a child named Leo who was at the front of the stage whose parents were looking for him. But then he couldn't understand what he was supposed to tell Leo to do, if his parents were going to meet him at the stage or if he was supposed to go to them. He told him that he should be free to be himself and that his parents loved him and he would really enjoy life as a circus performer. Or something to that effect. I wonder if his parents ever found him?

Next Flans told us we had to act like we were about to hear our favorite song and Danny stepped up to the mic for Paleontologist. Danny thought we could do better and Flans said that Danny was emotionally needy and needed our love. Danny agreed that he was needy and made us scream more. Then they started the song. Linnell used his trilobite pronunciation line again. He really is fond of that word.

TMBG 9/12/10 #8

We got our jumping instructions for The Guitar. Flans had us practice but then told us to stop so we didn't tire out too soon since it is a long song. The band bounced their way through the whole song. I was especially impressed with how lively Flansburgh was all weekend. He's usually spunky but he was bopping all around and jumping and making ridiculous faces and having a grand old time. When it came to Danny's bass solo Flans had a classic goof up.

"When I saw Weinkauf you say Danny.
Weinkauf. Danny. *without waiting for the audience to yell back*
I confused myself.
That's never happened this song."

Then he did a brief "The bass is Danny Weinkauf" chant. We waved for the lion, did a tiny bit more hopping and then finished the very long song.

Next Flans started to instruct us on counting. He made some sort of joke about us knowing how to count because we were from Massachusetts but I don't remember what it was. Then he told us that we needed to follow Sherpa John and Sherpa Dan to know when to count. They were to be our Sherpa guides to lead us through the song. We practiced a few times then did the song. Our Sherpas did not lead us astray.

TMBG 9/12/10 #14

I don't remember why or what started it, but at some point Flans was saying something about leading us into the abyss and then commented that abyss probably wasn't a word you heard a lot at children's shows. I believe at some point when they were setting up for WDTSS they said they were going over the abyss. It may have come up one other time too. I don't remember.

Flans introduced himself as the laziest member of the band once again and Dan got confused about what song they were playing because he had been at the keyboard but then had to rush back over to his guitar for I Never Go to Work. Turned out it was because Seven was next on the setlist and they apparently skipped it without telling Dan. Poor Dan.

TMBG 9/12/10 #16

Flans did Marty's intro for Clap Your Hands and introduced him as the next lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Scream. Clap, clap. Stomp, stomp. Jump, jump. Clap, clap.

TMBG 9/12/10 #18

Doctor Worm. I can not recall anything remarkable happening. Danny jumped off of the platform at the back but he was too far behind Linnell for an attempt at a photo. I think I mentioned that Marty had lights in his drums yesterday but they were on for the whole show this time. Flashy. Also, I never noticed before, but the 8-bit alien on his drum has little painted in eyeballs, unlike the black squares the ones on the other drum and the bumper stickers have.

Ok, Why Does The Sun Shine? This is going to be hard to describe to anyone who has never lived in Massachusetts. I had a video but all but 23 seconds of it got lost in the camera disaster that befell me after the show (my camera somehow deleted all the pictures from the show and I only got them back by spending $40 on some software that retrieved them from my memory card. Yikes.)

Flans explained they they do the song with voices and he was going to use a pirate voice and Linnell was going to use some other voice. He asked him if he wanted to do Garrison Keillor (the setlist said Garrison Keillor with a question mark) but Linnell said no. Flans tried to convince him but he said he's done that one and moved on. Flans asked if he wanted to do silver screen legend, Katharine Hepburn. Again no. Then Linnell got inspired. He asked if they were in Norwood (Massachusetts) and then realized no, they were in Canton. He said he was staying in Norwood so it had come to mind to do Ernie Boch. Flans thought this was fabulous and immediately started in on his own Ernie Boch impression. Linnell accused him of stealing his material but Flans claimed that he was Ernie Boch Jr.

To explain, Ernie Boch owned a chain of car dealships in Norwood, MA for years and years, that his son Ernie Boch Jr. now runs. You could not listen to the radio or watch television in Massachusetts for the last 30 years at least, without seeing or hearing a Boch car ad. And they are very distinctive because Ernie Boch Sr. had a thick Boston accent. Boch Jr.'s is less pronounced but still there. The minute Linnell mentioned his name, my brain started singing the jingle from the ads.

So they started playing the song and it got to the point where Linnell needed to do the voice and he had a brain cramp and couldn't come up with it. Flans did another sample for him and he launched into the spoken part with a terrific Boston accent (think Wicked Little Critta amped up a bit). He paused again when he got to the nuclear reactions, trying to think of something to use, until a girl in the audience yelled "hydrogen" and he went with that. Then nitrogen, cahbon, and finally "ask for the keys, it's your car." After they finished, Flans commented that probably nobody got the reference but Linnell said he got it, which was obviously all that mattered. I thought it would have been great if the band had managed to knock out the jingle but I'm not even sure they got it. Silly bunch of New Yorkers.

Flans introduced Marty embracing his boy band roots. Flans mentioned his burgeoning children's music career as part of the intro too which I thought was nice since, if you follow such things, Marty has been developing a bit of a presence for himself as a kids music producer. The music started and I realized it was Alphabet Lost in Found instead of High Five! and for a second I thought Linnell had put the wrong track on until I realized that really was what he was going to sing. Yay! Nothing against High Five! but Lost and Found is one of my favorites.

Marty turned in a wonderful, silly performance, getting some good shrugs from the band when he asked them where the words were going to go without their letters (and a total cold shoulder from Dan). Then he ended is by yelling "I think there's another Yankees championship in the back!" and running off the stage. I do not think this went over so well in the Boston crowd. Especially when no one made a joke about it.

TMBG 9/12/10 #23

Marty went back up to the mic after running of and said "This one's for you Violet." Then Flans explained that Marty's daughter, Violet was turning five years old today and we all needed to sing Happy Birthday to her. At the end of the song Marty collapsed on the stage like he usually does at the end of Lost and Found. It was like he couldn't not collapse when he finished singing even if it was Happy Birthday. By the time we had finished the song, Marty's wife had appeared with Violet at the side of the stage and Flans pointed her out to everyone. Marty went over to give her a hug and she latched on to him and didn't want to let go. The slightly panicked look that Marty gave his wife as he tried to free himself to run back up and play the next song was pretty priceless. And the whole thing was absolutely adorable. Mommy whisked Violet back off into the crowd and Marty got to go back to being a drummer once more.

They followed with Four of Two which was a nice surprise since I haven't heard that one in a while. After they finished Linnell said they had done it with no rehearsal. Not sure if he was being serious or making fun of himself for forgetting a line in the first verse.

Linnell introduced Broom. Broom had gotten a new face since yesterday though it appeared to be the same broom. Broom said something about there being something he had wanted and Linnell said, "Eyebrows?" He was, in fact, missing his eyebrows. Linnell also made a comment about how he kept waiting to feel bad but in never happened but I don't know what it was in reference to. Broom said he had been partying with Ozomatli the night before and was feeling kind of crunchy. Linnell said that the guys had told him about that and that Broom had made a mess of the dressing room. Broom said, "Whatever." And Linnell responded with a series of very forceful no's pointing emphatically at Broom and said, "Not whatever, not whatever." Broom said he was on a hit reality TV show. Linnell told him he had a job to do. Broom said he had a Twitter feed. Linnell told him he was in trouble and it was his job to clean up. Broom said he didn't know what he was talking about and "I've moved on in my life, John, it's time you moved on in yours." Flans broke voice for a second and said he was sounding just like his mother-in-law. Linnell agreed and said it might have been a direct quote. He started to try playing the song but Broom stopped to say "Get over it. Get over yourself." I assume this was another attempt at imitating his mother-in-law given the way Flans was grinning. Then they finally did get to the song. Broom closed it by saying "Don't forget my Twitter feed @thebroom." Someone seriously needs to make that happen by the way.

TMBG 9/12/10 #27

I have just remembered too, that there was a joke somewhere at the beginning of the Broom segment about the Broom appearing with OK Go. I would have really enjoyed that. They should have made that happen.

The band came back and Flans introduced Fibber Island with a funny line about an imaginary place in your head that I don't quite remember. They did a particularly good Zilch to follow it up. They were really trucking through the words before they gave it up at the end.

TMBG 9/12/10 #32

Flans thanked the band and the Life Is Good people and said he hoped they could do it again soon. Then they did Meet the Elements. They tossed The Famous Polka in at the end which seemed to surprise Linnell but it was on the setlist.

TMBG 9/12/10 #39

Despite running a little bit over time, they did come back for one encore, after only about 20 seconds off the stage. Flans told us that Dan had been practicing and we were about to see the results. Dan looked somewhat skeptical about this but launched into his Istanbul intro. It was awesome. I didn't mind that they skipped Istanbul yesterday but I did miss the opportunity to hear Dan's intro. I'm glad I didn't miss it entirely. When they were getting toward the fake ending, Flans made a big deal of running around to all the guys and yelling "we gotta go" and tapping his watch. Then he led them on into the fake ending. Then he did it again, saying "we really gotta go" and then led them all into a second fake ending. It was pretty funny.

TMBG 9/12/10 #42

Flans ripped half the strings off his guitar at the end looking crazed. A most fabulous end to the show.

TMBG 9/12/10 #48

My boyfriend easily got a setlist from Iggy afterward because they didn't do the stickers. As we were walking away, I saw Dan talking to someone in the crowd and then going over to Scott and asking if Ira Glass's people could come back. Scott said of course and opened the gate and, sure enough, Ira Glass and his group of young women walked right in front of me and went off back stage with Dan. Cool!

We went and got some food and moved over to another stage for the OK Go show. This was when I realized the camera had deleted all the pictures and I was not a happy camper. I thought I could probably get them back but it meant I couldn't take any pictures of the OK Go concert because I didn't have another SD card with me. Note to self. Carry a spare. A few minutes before the concert started I looked up and realized that Ira Glass and his party had walked up and taken a spot right next to me. Ira was having trouble with his phone. He was trying to text something to one of the Giants and it wasn't going even though they were just on the other side of the little pond between the stages. He was also telling some story about the conversation he had been having with Linnell about the use of the slang "yous" as in "yous people" in Philadelphia.

The OK Go concert was fantastic. There was another entertaining Sign Language interpreter who was so lively she was actually distracting. Ira Glass kept taking photos and video of her with his iPhone. They played all my favorite songs, including the handbell one which I wasn't sure they would do at a huge concert. Damian said fuck twice and apologized to the kids, the first time telling them it was some kind of boat and the second time claiming he had said truckers. He invited a guy in the audience to come up on stage to play his guitar for the end of a song and let the guy play the whole last minute of the song while he sang. It was pretty awesome. Probably the best day of that guy's life. He also invited a young Brazilian girl to come on stage and dance but all she did was wave her little Brazilian flag and take some pictures. Damian and Tim had a very humorous interchange about the quality of our singing when we were practicing for This Too Shall Pass. They told us our first attempt wasn't worthy of the Life is Good Festival, it was more like Life is Tolerable. Tim said it was like "I got out of bed in the morning but I'm not happy about it." We did better on our third pass. Damian came out to hold the mic out to the crowd while we were singing the song and climbed up to balance on the top of the parade barrier in front of the stage. He couldn't manage to balance himself upright but some fans helped hold him up while he leaned the mic over the crowd. Cool but scary. (Picture from my phone)

It really was an awesome and fantastic day. We didn't stick around for much longer after that because we weren't interested in any of the later bands. I was perfectly happy with two shows by bands I love and a generally excellent weekend (minus the shuttle bus incident). And now I can start counting down to my next TMBG weekend in two weeks. Lupo's here I come!

The rest of the pictures are here:
There are some Linnell shots if you are sad about the distinct lack of pictures of him in this entry. It was definitely a Flansburgh sort of photo day.

P.S. In case anyone was wonder you get this write-up in lieu of Audience Participation today. I just don't have time to do both.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life IS Good Part One

September 11, 2010 - Life Is Good Festival - Canton, MA

Well, I'll say this for the band, they sure know how to make a long wait between shows worth it!

The day did not start off on the right foot. I overslept so ended up leaving about a half hour later than I had intended. Parking for the festival was available at two different lots in Canton and shuttle buses were running from both to Prowse Farm, where the festival was being held. We parked at the MBTA station, which was about a mile from the farm. Shuttle buses were scheduled to start running at 10:30 but we got on the first bus which left at 10:15. Then things got worse.

I was a little curious why the bus driver took the turn onto I-95S since I was pretty sure the farm was off of I-93 but I figured she knew where she was going. Apparently that was a silly assumption. I started getting seriously concerned about 10 minutes later when we still weren't showing any signs of even exiting the highway. I looked up the directions on Google Maps and they indicated pretty clearly that we were now about 12 miles south of our destination traveling the wrong way. I kept hoping someone else on the bus would speak up and say something. I did hear the guy in from of me muttering. But it wasn't until we passed the sign indicating that we were 2 miles from Rhode Island that we all collectively spoke up. Turned out the festival organizers had told the drivers that they were to take exit 2B off of 95 instead of 93. By that point we were 30 minutes away from where we were supposed to be (yes, I realize I should have spoke up sooner). Then of course we had to turn around and drive the 30 minutes back. So we spent an hour on what was supposed to be our 5 minute shuttle bus ride. Instead of being among the first people at the festival grounds before they even opened the gates, we didn't get there until after they had opened. Thank god, TMBG weren't on first!

The part I found most frustrating was that, though the bus driver apologized (it wasn't her fault after all), the festival people did absolutely nothing about the fact that one of their buses had driven us almost to another state. They didn't even acknowledge that it happened when we all got off the bus. Not cool Life Is Good. Not cool at all.

On the bright side, when we finally did get in to the festival I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the place was not crowded at all. I guess a lot of people came later in the day and I didn't get the impression that they were sold out (which would have been 20,000 people) so it wasn't the nut house I was expecting. Plus the place was huge so there was plenty of space for people to be.

We wandered around the grounds for a bit first. There were lots of booths and activities set up but most seemed either to be advertising something or geared towards kids. We did see someone in a Goldfish costume. And I do mean the snack food, not the type of fish. It was advertising the Pepperidge Farms booth. The Children's Museum in Easton had a Dino Dig tent set up and I really wanted to see Danny over there proving that he is, in fact, a paleontologist (if he ever did visit, I didn't see it).

Life Is Good - Goldfish

The Good Kids stage where TMBG performed was the only stage in a tent. We went in and found a spot on the grass part way through the first band of the day, The Sippy Cups. The ground was covered with small plastic chairs, some kind of giant bean bag things that were also being sold, and the Rodys that Flans tweeted the picture of this morning. We sat next to a girl recklessly riding a green Rody and almost got bounced over.

I quite liked The Sippy Cups. They are on the sillier side of children's music with wacky costumes, goofy names for everyone in the band (they all use Sippy before their name, as in Sippy Paul, Sippy Doug, etc), juggling and songs about brushing your teeth and learning new things. They also did some covers of popular tunes like the Jackson 5 ABCs song and the like. Sippy Paul had a never ending series of silly hats. Sippy Doug seemed to be there largely for comic relief and kept coming out as different characters and provided the juggling. I initially found the female singer, Sippy Lala's voice to be a little grating (mocked up baby voice) but I got used to it and she played the sitar which was pretty cool. Their guitar player had an awesome jacket and a pink Fender and their bass player was a girl which is always cool. Their grand finale involved juggling a stuffed alligator, monkey and penguin. I approved.

The Sippy Cups #4

The next act was the Big Apple Circus - Circus to Go. We moved a bit farther forward for their show, prepping ourselves for TMBG. The circus had brought a few of their most mobile acts to entertain us. There was a woman who twirled hula hoops. There was a woman who spun plates and did some impressive balancing and acrobatics. The MC was a clown named Bucky who did some mediocre comedy and some somewhat more impressive ball spinning. There was a contortionist who seemed to have no spine. The contortionist and the hula hoop lady (who were mother and daughter, I think) joined with a younger daughter for a performing poodle act which was pretty cute but hard to see because they were so low to the stage and everyone stood up in front to see them. I think this is probably the only time TMBG had been preceded by performing poodles. They closed with a cowboy with a lasso routine.

Big Apple Circus #6

I started spotting TMBG crew getting ready on the side lines during the circus. Iggy was getting the lighting program set up and Will came out to watch the circus for a bit. They didn't have Victor with them, but rather another guitar tech I've seen with them before, but whose name I don't know. I don't know if our setlist failure was due to not being there to recognize us or if they were just saving them for tomorrow's show. I suspect the later as I don't think they gave out any but I'm not sure. I'll tell you tomorrow.

There is something so wonderfully familiar about watching the crew set up for a show. They had the standard pre-family show house music playing. As soon as the circus was done, a whole bunch of crew came out and helped wheel all the already set up pieces of the TMBG stage into place from behind a curtain at the back. Danny came out to tune his bass. Iggy went around with a checklist checking sound levels on all the various mics and instruments. I Love Rock and Roll was playing when he sat down to test the drums and he was actually beating out the rhythm of the song on the kick drum and the toms. The funniest was watching him test the accordion without picking it up. He just kind of pulled it up and down a little and then used one of the drum sticks to push some of the buttons.


Scott came out to hand out foam fingers. They had orange and green and while I have plenty of fingers I've been coveting a green one. I sent to boy up to retrieve one and he got one of each. Woohoo!

Just before the band came on stage there was a fight between some people in front of us over a couple of the bean bags. Two of the women were standing directly in front of us arguing when the Stompy Intro came on and I was about ready to start yelling too when one of them walked away and the other sat down. The whole argument was rather pointless since Flans immediately had us stand up. It didn't take much encouragement from him to get me to move farther forward in front of the bean bags either.

This was definitely a "less talk, more rock" show, I assume to make the most of their one hour time slot. They started with 813 Mile Car Trip. Flans mentioned Here Comes Science and they played Meet the Elements. Marty was appropriately dressed for this in his periodic table T-shirt. There was some bit of dialogue in here that I completely missed, but which my boyfriend caught, about eating imaginary donuts. Flans told everyone to pretend they were eating imaginary donuts and then complained that his was stale.

They didn't instruct us on counting for Pirate Girls Nine but we counted anyway. Flansburgh told us it was accordion time which the crowd got very excited about. There was another funny accordion related comment that I've forgotten. I took a lot of pictures at this show since I wasn't in the front and the outdoor setting provided decent lighting. Unfortunately, that always means I occasionally tune out to the actual music and I think I lost Pirate Girls in one of those moments (I don't know what I was doing for the donut thing). I remember watching Dan count, because I had resolved to get more pictures of Dan since my collection is lacking. I also, couldn't see Linnell for large portions of the show, which is unusual since usually I can't see someone else through Linnell and his keyboard. There was first a tall man and then a man with a kid on his shoulders between me and Linnell and I only really saw him when he stepped to one side or the other of the guy bent down.


Excellent Doctor Worm. I continued my quest to get a picture of Danny jumping and ended up with a funny shot of him leaping out of Flansburgh's back. They didn't have the confetti cannons with them. I think they would be discouraged at an outdoor festival that was, among other things, celebrating conservation.

TMBG #11

The Famous Polka. I could finally see Linnell for a bit, since he moved to the left to play. Then he rushed back over to his mic to yell "hey", before returning to the left. He really needs his second accordion playing mic back. Danny played the bass solo and in the little one second break in the middle of it looked off to the left with his hysterical expression on his face, like he was saying "who was that, was that me?" and then looked back at the crowd with a "hey, look what I can do" before continuing to play.

TMBG #14

All the guys seemed to be in a really silly mood. They kept making each other laugh over little things and who knows what. They must have been having a good day.

Next started the jumping portion of the show. Well, first Linnell stopped to drink some coffee and Flans commented that "in the future all music will be accompanied by on stage coffee drinking." Then he told us that we needed to jump up and down for the next song but not until he said go. They started playing The Guitar. Flans told us to jump when the band usually starts jumping. We jumped. Then stopped for the lion parts. Then jumped again and again and again. To be fair so did the band so we were all tired. Linnell fiddled with the Kaoss pad. Flans twiddled with something down on his end of the keyboard. We jumped some more. I never realized how long that song is (though Flans had warned us that it was a five minute song).

TMBG #19

They he started introducing Marty and I thought, "shit, more jumping." I screamed. They played Clap Your Hands. We clapped. We stomped. Then we jumped some more. So very tired now. And then, what did they play? Birdhouse. More jumping. I gave up after the first beats. My legs were done. When it was time for the guitar solo, Linnell called "John, Dan playing something!" Then, "More!" This made Dan laugh really hard. He was positively chortling.

TMBG #27

By the time they hit Older, I was just happy for a slow song. Flans let the kiddos play his guitar and made some very funny faces at them. They did the freeze pause even though there wasn't any confetti. Dan did some funny poses with his guitar. Afterwards Flans thank all the guest guitarists of Canton, MA.

TMBG #35

Flans started talking about 123s and Danny looked at Marty and mouthed "Seven?" There were a few moments where they seemed confused about the setlist. It seemed like maybe they didn't all have one. There was a weird moment of Dan and Linnell communicating with hand signals at one point with Dan pointing at the keyboard and then his mic and seemed to be indicating switching something. Who knows what. Flans told us they had won a Grammy for this album. "I know what you're thinking. Yes, the check cleared." When Linnell got to the first line about "who would like some cake?" a ton of the kids raised their hands and yelled "me!" Very cute.

TMBG #40

Then one of them, I think maybe Linnell, said that they got complaints that they didn't have enough guest stars at their shows. So they brought out Broom. Linnell contributed this bit of dialogue with humorous results. "Broom, I know your eyebrows are tilted up but you sound kind of angry." Broom (sounding affronted and slightly confused): "No, I'm not angry." Then Broom told us that he would be doing a special late night set later with Buckethead who is currently on tour with Axl Rose. Linnell said that he hated to bring up sensitive stuff on stage but their tour bus was really messy, "I don't know who made the mess. I'm not pointing any fingers." Broom: "Well it wasn't me. Not my problem if you guys are slobs." Linnell asked him is he could, in his capacity as a broom, clean up the bus. Broom did an incredible version of an incredulous look considering he has no facial expressions and said, "Au contraire, mon frere. That's French for, no way, Jose." Then they sang the song.

TMBG #43

The band came back and Flans introduced the song about the laziest member of They Might Be Giants. He spun around pointing his finger as if he was going to label one of the guys then ended up pointing at his own head. Since Dan was going the trumpet part, Flans forgot to change the line to "practice guitar everyday" until the second go round.

TMBG #46

Flans announced accordion time again and Linnell told us to set our watches. Then Flans said it would be awesome if they could have total darkness on stage for the next song but he was sure there was no one at the lights. But sure enough the lights all turned off. But the lights inside Marty's clear drum set all went on, giving them a shiny glow, like they were lit up with Christmas lights. Linnell said it was weird because he usually can't even see Marty's drums, he can just see Marty's legs through them. But the lights made the invisible drums visible. They played Whistling in the Dark which is indeed a good song to play without lights. Unusual choice for a family show but it works. Linnell messed up the line "hit my head on the wall of the jail." I can't remember what he said but it wasn't that.

Marty came down to embrace his boy band routes with High Five! Many, many children and adults got high fives, as did all of the band at the end. They were all ready this time. Continuing in the guest artists, Danny went next with Paleontologist. The woman in front of me was VERY excited. Linnell included his old favorite, trilobite in the dinosaurs he listed then asked how you pronounced that fossil anyway. He also asked if it was a stegamasarous, then turned and asked Danny, "Danny, do you know?" Danny gave a comical shrug, like "I have no idea what it is, dude?"

TMBG #48

Flans went to the back of the stage and picked up a straw cowboy hat and plunked it on his head and continued to wear it for the rest of the show. He picked up a pack of the 8-bit rock bumper stickers and said that they had meant to have 50 of them printed but they accidently printed 50,000 so he was going to hold one out very slowly and hand it to someone (it actually took a second for someone to reach up and grab it) and then continue to do that for the next 17 hours until everyone at the festival had one. He went to hand out another but played like he couldn't reach any of the kids but then said it seemed like they were getting taller, as one of them jumped for it. He handed a few more out while he gave instructions about clapping on the back beat, I think because he realized he couldn't clap with them in his hand. They finished with Particle Man. Lovely accordion mashing, nothing in the bridge.

TMBG #52

They took only a minute or so for the encore (they'd left themselves about 10 minutes), then came back out and did Alphabet of Nations. The echoing scat at the beginning was awesome. Linnell did some more monkey playing a thermin and then both made some really funny sounds. Throughout the day there was an interpreter doing sign language on the side of the stage to all the songs. We were amused by their struggle to both keep up with and interpret lyrics while they were being sung and had been particularly looking forward to seeing them tackle Alphabet of Nations because I thought the spelling would be her undoing. But she totally cheated and just signed the ABCs. No fair.

TMBG #60

Flans thanked the band and reminded us that he and Marty would be giving out the stickers. He also thanked his mom who was in the audience. He told us we should go check out a band called Ozomatli that was going to be playing on one of the other stages soon. Then they closed with New York City.

I wasn't going to make any attempt at stickers since I already have so many and I was hanging back while the crowd went forward to see what the situation might be with the setlists. My boyfriend ventured forward to be in a better position to get one. Marty had his kids with him on stage while he handed out stickers. The little boy had on a T-shirt that said My Dad Rocks. Awwwwwww. Then Flans' mom came out on stage and started passing out stickers and we had to get a sticker from Flans' mom. I've labeled it so I'll always know which one came from her. It was a real family affair on the stickers today. They took away the keyboard with the setlist still on it, which was part of what made me think they might be reusing it, and that was the only one that was visible on the stage. We hung around for a while longer, just to see what could be seen. Marty signed stuff for people off beside the stage for a few minutes and waved at us on the way out.

We wandered around and listened to a little of a few other bands including Ozomatli, Dr. Dog and Dan Zanes (great hair on that guy) before deciding there wasn't any point in staying for the other bands we had no interest in and heading home. No troubles with the shuttle on the way back.

So a very wonderful return to Giant land. Oddly, no Istanbul. I think that is only the 3rd show I've seen where they didn't play it. I wouldn't complain except, since they had no horn player I've missed a chance at Miller Time. Also no Sun. Interesting. We had a great time and are ready to do it all again tomorrow whether it's the same setlist or not. Whee!

The rest of the pictures are on Flickr. There are a bunch.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

#1 - My Friends

I have met some of the most amazing people through this band. People I never would have seen or spoken to if it wasn't for They Might Be Giants. That is my very, very favorite part about being a fan, all the interesting, amazing people I get to meet. Some of you I may not have meet in person but I hope to someday. Some of you I've meet at shows and had a fabulous time. And a few of you have joined me on my crazy adventures following this band around the country and made things about 10 million times more fun.

The band has also given my boyfriend and I something else to bond over and we've have had a blast following the band around to cities I never would have visited if I wasn't there for a show. Getting me into this band is one of the best things he could have done for me.

So to Gary, Stacy, Megan, Steve, Kathy, Kara, AJ, Eric, Mike, Jason, Ana, Maggie, Erin, Eric, Garrett, Gabe, Emily, Shannon, Alena, Jamie, Brittany, James, Katie, Valerie, everyone of the forum and anyone else I forgot, thank you all for being so kind and awesome. And most of all to John and John and Dan and Danny and Marty, for giving us all such an epic band to obsess over. Here's to many more years of Gigantic fandom.

And now I am running late leaving for the festival today. As usual. Some things never change.

Stage Announcements - 9/10/10

I've been so mixed up about what day it is this week I almost forgot to do this.

For anyone interested in the story behind the Many Hands collection that TMBG contributed to, check out this interview with Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child host Bill Childs.

Also, for all of you who are unable to attend this Life is Good festival this weekend, the music performances are going to be webcast. Reports seem to be mixed on whether that is going to include the family stage on which TMBG are performing. I'm thinking no, but it might be worth checking out the stream at At the very least, you can watch one of my other favorite bands, OK Go on Sunday at 3:00pm.

Friday, September 10, 2010

#2 - Confetti

It is kind of ridiculous how excited I get over tiny pieces of colored paper. There is pretty much nothing than makes me happier than getting completely drowned by the confetti cannon. I'm as bad as the little kids at the family shows after the cannon goes off, scooping up handfuls of the stuff. And it gets everywhere. I usually have my hoodie on at shows and regularly find both the hood and pockets are loaded if I've been standing under the blizzard cannon. After the New Year's show I found confetti stuck to my skin in the shower the next morning. Now that's the sign of a good night!

I have at least a few pieces of confetti from every show I've attended (that had the cannons anyway). Some is stuffed in my foam fingers, most is stored in an ever increasing number of plastic bags. I've got every color of paper plus several types of small metallic confetti and multiple different shapes including stars, moons and my very favorite: pick elephants. There is confetti on the floor of my room, confetti in my car, wet pieces of confetti welded to the bottom of my shoes. I actually make a point of leaving confetti anywhere I find it, so it's there to make me smile when I discover it. I leave pieces in the pockets of my hoodie to give it a more authentic feel and I always have to remember to clean them out before I wash it.

I've seen some epic confetti launches. From Celebrate Brooklyn where they launched the cannons four times, to Ithaca where they debuted the blizzard cannon and dumped 50 lbs of the stuff into the audience (it was ankle deep in the theater). There was the magic confetti at Lupo's that hung in the air forever with the band frozen on stage during Older for what seemed like several minutes and then pieces continued to fall from nowhere throughout the show. I have a hilarious mental image of Flansburgh chasing after a single piece of confetti in Charlotte like he was chasing a butterfly. There have been a few pretty epic cannon fails too, where giant clumps just dumped on a single individual's head or just remained in the cannon. There was the family show in Chicago where the left cannon flunked and Danny proceeded to reach into in and pull out gobs of confetti to toss at the kids. And I love how, even at shows without the cannons a single pieces of two will float out of their equipment. I can only imagine how much confetti they must have stuck to all of their stuff.

This countdown is on the eve of being done and I am less than 24 hours away from my next show. It's outside so I don't know if there will be confetti but I know there is enough confetti in my future to make up for it if there isn't. I'll post the last entry in the countdown tomorrow morning before I leave. Can anyone guess what #1 might be?

TMBG 3/10/10 #6

Thursday, September 9, 2010

#3 - Lifelong Friends

When I was first starting to show some interest in TMBG and asking a lot of newbies questions, my boyfriend made one of the smartest moves he could have made in furthering my interest in the band. He stuck in Gigantic while I was cooking dinner one night. In addition to filling in some of the blanks for me, it introduced me to one of the things that most appeals to me about the band, namely, the long term friendship between Flansburgh and Linnell.

The longevity of They Might Be Giants is rare in the music world and I think, ultimately, their staying power can be attributed to the fact that, at their heart, they are just two friends who decided it might be fun to start a band. I really don't think it is possible to work with someone so closely for so long without genuinely liking and respecting them. The fact that they've been quite successful seems to be just a happy byproduct.

I also don't think their stage show would work nearly so well as it does if the Johns weren't friends because they play off each other so well in their banter. They share a sense of humor and can pick up each other's jokes in a way that only long time friends can. I often feel like I am just listening to a funny conversation between old friends.

I've always liked the idea of lifelong friends. People who know you inside out and absolutely take you for what you are. It's not something I've ever really experienced since I've managed to loose touch with most of the people I've known for more than 10 years. But I've still got time.

The very first time I ever saw Flans and Linnell in person, it wasn't on stage at a show. They were sitting in a booth, just the two of them, at a Hilltop Steakhouse in Braintree, MA. Just two friends having a meal. I'm sure it's something they've done a hundred million times over the years but it makes me happy to think that even after all this time they would still choose to hang out together before a show and chat about who knows what.

I've sort of wondered if working together for so long has ruined being friends for them a bit. Whether they spend so much time together on the road and in the studio that they just don't feel like getting together when they don't have to. Because that would make me a little sad. But then I remember Flansburgh saying in an interview that they try to make a point of hanging out together with the band before a show to have a meal or coffee, so it doesn't become all about the work and they all get a chance to hang out as friends. They seem to have found a way over the years to not let the work get in the way of being friends which is something I greatly admire.

I think my dream job would be to find something I love doing and then do it with friends. The thing I most envy about the band is that they get to do something they love everyday with people they enjoy being with. That is my life time goal.