Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 289

Today's song is...

Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth

Quite a while back I included this song on a list of my least favorite songs. I don't think that is really accurate. I don't actually dislike like it; I'm not even entirely indifferent to it. I'm trying to put my finger on what made me put it on that list. I think maybe it's a little too slow and I get bored with it before the song is over. I like the lyrics. I enjoy the horns and the guitar part. Somehow it just doesn't all jell for me. But I've long suspected that I'll wake up someday and discover I really love the song so there is still hope for it.

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 8/31/11

Quillan and Phaedra star in today's adorable entry from Rebecca.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 288

Today's song is...

Here Come The ABCs

A - B - C!! I kind like that this song announces the album you are about to listen to when you put it on. It's cheerful, like the song is saying "Here we go!" And I have this image in my head of the puppets bopping their heads to the tune that makes me smile.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 287

Today's song is...

The Shadow Government

This is one of my lesser favorite songs from my favorite album. I don't dislike it by any means, it's just much more middle of the pack than some of the others on the album. Actually, musically, I really enjoy it. I would consider this to be what I call the "requisite Flans rocker" on every album and in that category of songs this one is much closer to the top. The music has the gritty quality I so enjoy on The Else and its got a really thumpy rhythm track I really like. This song seems like it would be really fun to play for some reason. I think where it falls short for me is that I always group it with Working Undercover for the Man in my head, probably because of the similar themes. And I like the lyrics to that song better than this one. This one makes me think more of a guy on a bad drug trip convinced people are following him. However, I like the music to this one better. But they are both great songs and luckily I can have them both!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 286

Today's song is...

Hello Hello

Can we talk about how awesome the drums and bass parts in this song are? Cause they are really awesome. Fairly simple but so good. Nothing about the lyrics grab me but I like the vocal tone as it sounds with the drums and bass. I even kind of enjoy the little samples that are tossed in there. In short, this one gets a thumbs up from me.

Song of The Day - Day 285

Today's song is...

Put It To The Test

Slightly late today. Apologies, I was distracted by the impending hurricane.

One of my favorite videos on HCS and a great song. I really enjoy the guitar/bass parts in particular. This is just a fun, solidly put together song. Best song about the scientific method I've ever heard.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 284

Today's song is...

Cut The Strings

The video for this song is simultaneously one of the funniest and one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen. I wobble between laughing hysterically and cringing. The song, I enjoy quite a bit as a well executed and humorous send-up to the genre it is parodying while also being about string theory. I almost guarantee it is the only heavy metal song about string theory in existence.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 283

Today's song is...

Burning Coffee

I believe everyone was pretty much in agreement that this was probably an unused Dunkin Donuts song, right? But there never did seem to be any agreement on who that third vocalist is. Most people I discussed it with said it sounded like it was just Flans using some kind of voice modification technology but I still can not make it sound anything like Flans. This will probably remain a perpetual mystery and one that will bug me forever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 282

Today's song is...

Tom Landry, Existentialist, Dead At 75

And we are back to my old Partly Cloudy Patriot problem again. Just as well. I am in a hurry and didn't really have time to write about a song today anyway. But it is a very enjoyable audio book.

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 8/24/11

Here's another one from Skye! :-)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 281

Today's song is...

I Heard A Sound

This has got to be one of the shortest tracks ever. It's a "blink and you'll miss it" song. And I never even noticed that they frequently sing the lyrics differently live until I just read it on the wiki, but it is totally true.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 280

Today's song is...

Distant Antenna

We really are on a Mono Puff roll here. This track is a bit odd (big surprise). There are some quite interesting guitar sounds and some lovely bass playing from Hal. Tracks like this remind me that Flansburgh is really obsessed with sound in general, something that really came out a lot in Mono Puff, I believe.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Song Of The Day - Day 279

Today's song is...

Mink Car

When I was taking that quiz thing where you have to name all the songs on all the TMBG albums in 15 minutes or whatever it is, I was totally embarrassed to realize that this was one of the songs I failed to name on Mink Car. Lame. 

This song has never been a particular favorite but I have good associations with it. There is that interview where the Johns mention that they actually wrote this one side by side at the piano and I've always enjoyed picturing that process. And I got to hear David Driver take lead vocals on it at LPR a couple of years ago, which was pretty spectacular. Also, going back to listen to it again, the arrangement is just beautiful. The piano and flugelhorn and bass and the triangle. Beautiful.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 278

Today's song is...

Car Alarms

The chorus of this song really reminds me of another song but I can't put my finger on what song it is. But the melody is super familiar. I would also like to point out, as someone who grew up in the country, that it is actually easier to hear the car alarms in the country because there is no other noise to drown them out and the sound carries over the vast open spaces. That is all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Song Of The Day - Day 277

Today's song is...

O Do Not Forsake Me

This is my favorite guest vocal, a capella song on John Henry, by far. I quite like the harmonies but the lyrics are still an enigma to me. Maybe further study will unlock the mystery.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 276

Today's song is...

I'm Your Boyfriend Now

This is one of my favorite amusing songs that makes smile when I listen to it. It's pretty darn clever the way the lyrics are constructed. But I was definitely surprised at how popular it was in general in the I'd Like This Song To Be Number One contest. I had no idea people liked it THAT much. I always particularly liked the way the aborted answering machine message turns into "Please leave a mess" because of course, the poor narrator is a mess. Someday I hope to include this on the mix I've always intended to make of songs that are actually about stalking, along with Every Breath You Take and One Way Or Another.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 8/17/11

TDK gets bonus points for this submission for identifying a TAPOM reference in a TMBG picture.

I've only got two more pictures in reserve, so if anyone has any ideas they've been sitting on, send them this way :-)

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Song of The Day - Day 275

Today's song is...

Letter/Not A Letter

A lot of people knock this song because they don't think it makes any sense on the CD outside the context of the video (or at least a lot of the people I talk to). Personally, I find it pretty adorable in either context. The music has a nice little tune to it and some of the comments the kids make are pretty funny, more so I think because they are coming from little kids. Never going to say this is a favorite song or anything because it's not, but I would never go so far as to banish it from the album either.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 274

Today's song is...

Dr. Kildare

The randomizer finally seems to have gone on a Mono Puff kick. I really enjoy the instrument arrangement on this song. I find the lyrics slightly confusing but amusing. But the music, especially at the beginning, is great. Really good bass line. Kudos to Hal on that one.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 273

Today's song is...

Processional 1

This song has such an unusual and fantastic combination of instruments. Clarinets. Sax. That little toy piano sounding thing (which I love by the way). What is that thing? I feel like its name is right on the tip of my tongue and I can't quite grasp it. Anyway, not my favorite of the Processionals but it is my second favorite! And one of the songs I am most fond of on the EP.

P.S. Check out the pretty new banner Megan made for the blog! It makes me happy :-) Thanks, Meg!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 272

Today's song is...

The Sun Is On Fire

Afraid I don't have much to contribute on this one, having only just heard it for the first time about 30 seconds ago. It's good. I think.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 271

Today's song is...

Mission Control

Another puppet jam. Not the strongest but it's amusing. "I did. I left it on the bus. ...Guys?"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 270

Today's song is...


Another trip into Mono Puff land today. If this track doesn't make you alternately laugh and go WTF I don't know what will.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 269

Today's song is...


I love the Other Thing version of this song. All those explosive horns and smashing cymbals and the Kaoss Pad, horn duel at the end. It just sounds exciting. The Istanbul EP version is good too, but it doesn't have the same explosive flare. Man, I really love that horn version.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 268

Today's song is...

Kendra McCormick

I have always wondered if these people got actual mp3s or something of these songs to put on their answering machines or if TMBG called up and recorded them directly. Cause it would be a major bummer if Kendra finished college and moved out of her dorm and thus lost her answering machine song. I assume the former must be true. In which case, I wonder if you called up Kendra today if this song would still be her voice mail?

There's A Picture Opposite Me - 8/10/11

Here is an entry from Finn and Aevia (with a little help from Rebecca).

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 267

Today's song is...

Bread Hair

This is truly one of the weirdest things I have ever heard. There are strange songs, and then there's this. But I still have to give them credit for working all the specific kinds of bread into the lyrics in a way that actually works harmonically. But damn, this is still a weird song.

You Did It!

July 30, 2011 - The Stone Pony - Asbury Park, NJ

TMBG 7/30/11 #1

Oh, The Stone Pony. Always an adventure. Never a dull moment.

Our troops, myself, Gary, Megan, Anna, John and Rebecca, piled into J&R's mini-van for the trek across New Jersey to Asbury Park about quarter to one. And of course we got stuck in traffic. Because this entire weekend was just one never ending series of traffic jams. But even with the traffic we still arrived about five hours before doors, which is just something you have to do at The Stone Pony. And we joined Heather and Jim and TDK and Paul already in the tiny courtyard entrance of the club.

The nice thing about waiting here was that the building provided shade and, until the sound check started, the door to the venue was open with lovely air conditioning blowing out. This was a very different scene in Asbury Park than when we were here last year. It being a month later and sweltering hot, the place was packed with beach goers, instead of virtually deserted as it was last June. The water park across the street was seeing a lot of action and the beach was littered with tourists and locals alike. Part way through the afternoon an enormous biker gang rode into town and could be seen wandering the sidewalks in highly weather-inappropriate leather and denim ensembles featuring grammatically incorrect  patches. They were so incongruous with our line of band geeks it was almost comical. 

One of the entertaining things about The Stone Pony is that there really is no "backstage." I assume there is some kind of Green Room somewhere in the venue but the only access to the stage is from the sidewalk. So by virtue of our early arrival we got see a lot of the band arrive at the venue. I took a trip off to the facilities only to return and be told that I had missed Linnell's arrival. Apparently he tried the wrong door first and it was locked and he started walking towards the group with great trepidation as he thought he was going to have to pass through them to enter the club. But he discovered the accessible stage door before he got there, much to his relief I assume. Shortly after I returned Marty showed up with a truly enormous backpack with drum sticks poking out of the side pockets. Danny must have snuck past us at some point too as we could soon hear the bass warming up and tuning inside along with the drums and keyboard, though no one ever saw him.

There was a lot of pre-sound check warm up of drums, keyboard, accordion, bass clarinet and bass. The most entertaining part was the Kaoss Pad test. We heard a series of typical Kaoss Pad squealing and scratching effects then suddenly a blastingly loud "Wicked Little Critta!" erupted through the door. I think we just about died laughing. Flans and JoCo arrived together in a fashion that implied they had car pooled to the venue. We found this idea rather adorable as we imagined them sitting in traffic talking shop.

Our group rapidly expanded over the next couple of hours to include Kathy, Marci, Melanie, Stacy, Steve, Q and his girlfriend Bonnie. Other friends, Jason, Mel and her mom, and sundry others that I know by sight if not by name gathered further down the line. It was a regular old party!

Before the band started sound check a venue employee came out and shut the door to the club. So much for our nice air conditioned breeze. We then spent much of the rest of the afternoon directing people to the entrance to the bar and the building down the street where they could buy tickets. The shut door didn't much affect our ability to hear sound check. It was still pretty clear through the walls of the building and it was a pretty exciting sound check. They ran through most of the new songs. We waited expectantly to hear if Flans would get the words to Judy right. He did not. Then they ran it again and he did. We all cheered. Then they started playing Old Pine Box and it took me a minute before my brain caught up and went "Holy Shit! They are playing Old Pine Box!"I guess it took a little of the surprise and excitement away from hearing the actual premiere at the show but it was still pretty cool. And later we got to hear JoCo warming up a couple of his songs though I don't remember specifically which ones.

A little while after the sound check I looked down the line and realized that Flans was walking towards us handing Join Us stickers to everyone in line. This was a kind of incredible thing because he went all the way down the line, giving a sticker to each person and thanking everyone for coming, and no one accosted him. No one tried to get him to sign anything or pose for pictures. Everyone was completely cool about it. At least as far as I could see. He totally surprised Anna who had headphones on and didn't realize he was there until he was sticking a sticker in her face. Actually, I got the impression a lot of people didn't actually realize it was Flans until after he had handed them the sticker. It was just so unexpected.

When he reached our group he had to walk into our crowd to hand stickers to everyone in the doorway of the club. Heather got the best response and she said "thank you" and commented that this sticker wasn't wet, referring to the one she had gotten the day before that got soaked. Flans was totally confused and didn't get the reference at all and said,  "It goes on your car." Then he tried to open the locked door to the club. And realized he was going to have to walk back past the entire line again to get back in. I think he actually asked if any of us could open the door for him and someone said, sorry, no, they had closed it for sound check. It was a truly weird, odd and humorous exchange. And he made it all the way back past the crowds without being bothered either. And then I checked my phone and there was a steady stream of four or five consecutive Facebook posts from people squeeing about how they had just gotten a sticker from Flansburgh. It was pretty cool.

At some point while we were waiting Scott and a tech I did not recognize came out to move their rental truck from in front of the venue and they hit a trash can, which dragged along the sidewalk several feet. It was amusing.

We spent a few minutes coordinating audience participation for When Will You Die. I had decided that everyone needed to high five on the "You'll high five" line, but discussions were had on exactly which beat we would high five on and who would be high fiving whom. It was serious business.

Shortly before we were let into the venue we saw Linnell, JoCo, Danny, Marty and his wife across the street heading off in search of dinner. Linnell was wearing long sleeves which was totally inexplicable in the 90 degree heat. Marty's wife was wearing a particularly nice hat. We amused ourselves for a while making up their dialogue about choosing a restaurant. Then we all had to shuffle ourselves into a single file line at the request of the venue staff, which was no easy task as there were about 12 of us in a clump at the front. 

Before the show, I had made a request that we go to the left of the stage rather than the right. We usually go right, but I have found lately that usually means I can't see Marty and Danny very well. And after Brooklyn, where I absolutely couldn't see Marty at all, I was rather determined to have a good view of him. We had also realized, standing outside, that our entire group was probably not going to fit in the front row. The stage just wasn't big enough. And we were right. I've been at a few shows where I looked down the stage and knew every single person from end to end of the front row. I think this is the first time I've ever looked down and realized I knew every person in the front two rows! 

We picked a spot just to the left of the keyboard that put me squarely in front of Danny, with a lovely view of Linnell and the world's most perfect view of Marty. Because the drums were raised a bit and off the the left, I kind of had to turn to my left for that view, but the entire kit was angled directly at my face. No cymbals in the way, absolutely clear shot. It was exactly what I wanted. Sadly, I did kind of give up any clear view of Dan in this position but I had a superb view of him in Brooklyn so it was an OK trade off. I do feel bad for all my buddies who ended up behind me. It occurred to me later that I should have offered to stand in the second row because I'm taller. But my selfish "must be near the stage" instincts kick in in these situations and I become the world's worst friend. Sorry, guys :-(

TMBG 7/30/11 #2

When we first went in, JoCo had his stuff laid out on the stage under the keyboard. Guitar, laptop, Zendrum. He has quite possibly the most low key setup ever on a stage. He can actually carry all of his equipment back off again in one trip.

JoCo 7/30/11 #1

We also noticed one of the enormous Join Us posters the band has been advertising for sale hung up on a short wall that divided the "back-stage" area by the door from the rest of the room. Those things are truly huge. I have since ordered one that should be heading my way. I am a little worried it might fall off the wall and suffocate me in my sleep, but that's a risk I will just have to take.

Jonathan Coulton took the stage with very little fanfare at just about 8 o'clock. He obviously had some fans in the crowd who had come to see him rather than TMBG. And there are quite a lot of us cross-over fans for whom this combination is the ultimate coup. I believe this is the accurate setlist.

The Future Soon - Shop Vac - Alone At Home - Good Morning, Tucson - Skullcrusher Mountain - Still Alive - Mr. Fancy Pants - Re: Your Brains

He didn't do a ton of inter-song banter. He made a pretty funny joke when introducing Alone at Home about the new album being produced by Flansburgh. "He's just this guy. He's in a band. You probably don't know him." Or something along those lines. He did the same spiel before Good Morning, Tucson about morning talk show hosts that I have seen him do before every performance of the song, explaining that the song is about what happens when one of them finally goes nuts. A truly impressive number of people in the venue sang along with Still Alive. Apparently even the non-JoCo fans in the room were Portal fans. 

JoCo 7/30/11 #4

He messed up Mr. Fancy Pants hilariously. During the final verse he hit the wrong button on the Zendrum and it started playing the entirely wrong beat. He yelled, "Shit!" and then totally cracked up. Then he told us to pretend that something had happened at the end of the song and just skipped the rest of the lyrics and finished the song. He said afterwards that the problem with buttons is that you can not un-press them. He asked us if we knew our part for Re: Your Brains and several people screamed so enthusiastically that he was a little taken aback. He had us sound check it, but it seemed that only about half the room knew what they were supposed to be doing. So he said "Now, that some of you have just learned it, let's try that again." Then he criticized us for singing too well, so we did one final check in true zombie voice. It sounded terrible. As it should. And after the song he left the stage with an exaggerated bow.

JoCo 7/30/11 #6

He actually came back on afterward to collect his stuff. He does this after all his own shows but I find it funny that he doesn't just let the techs collect it when he's out with TMBG. I'm sure they would. But maybe he's just too used to doing it himself.

The techs swarmed the stage to get ready for TMBG. I never did figure out who was doing sound this weekend, whether is was just Scott again or one of the other guys I didn't recognize. They had a new lighting guy with them, named David. I wasn't as impressed with his lighting work but it served it's purpose I guess. It was not super great for photography though. There was this bright yellow light that was perpetually behind the head of which ever band member was directly in front of me (usually Danny), and made it nearly impossible to get a picture that was focused without a creepy halo effect. 

The bass clarinet was brought out and positioned in its stand directly in front of us. We could have bent down and played it without needing to pick it up, it was that close. Many pictures were taken of it resting there. The best part was when Victor put it down, several people in our group whooped. And he looked at us like we'd gone insane, totally not getting the bass clarinet appreciation. 

TMBG 7/30/11 #4

After thinking for a while that there were no confetti cannons, we realized they were mounted over our heads on top of the speakers to the left and right of the stage. They were almost completely on their sides and looked like the confetti distribution would all be on the first few rows. But the big blizzard cannon was not present.

Setlists were brought out and I had to struggle not to look at the one that was put out on the side of the drum riser for Danny, because I could pretty clearly see most of it. I did peak a little but didn't see anything surprising. 

Follow-up conversations were had about high fiving and partners realigned based on who was standing next to each other. We decided it had to be done with outside hands rather than inside because we were all too close together. 

And finally the Sammy Intro started, the doors opened from the sidewalk and the band took the stage. Linnell went immediately for the bass clarinet and Danny for the keyboard which meant they were opening with Cloisonné. Flans welcomed us all to the show and pointed out the six foot tall Join Us poster off to the side of the stage. He said we were in luck because we could buy one only in Asbury Park and sell it on eBay for double the price. He mentioned the new album and introduced the first song off it.

The show started off with issues from this very first song and continued to have problems all night long. But instead of turning into a disaster it was all the mistakes and technical issues that led to the best jokes and made the show so great. Last year's Stone Pony show was pretty impossible to top, excellent banter-wise but this one gave it some strong competition. Maybe there is just something about The Stone Pony that makes for unique and wonderful shows. 

Marty's electronic drum pad was not working properly when he went to start the sound effects on the verse of Cloisonné. It took Victor two trips onto the stage to get it working. And Flans got the lyrics all confused, fudging the beginnings and ends of words all through the Sleestak section. Linnell's improv at the end sounded more like a squealing dying goose than ever. Flans teased afterwards. "Beautiful music. Right here on the New Jersey shore, ladies and gentlemen. Home of class and sophistication. The New Jersey Shoreline. Keeping it classy."

TMBG 7/30/11 #6

Danny and Dan swapped places at the keyboard and Linnell moved off to the mic on the other side of the stage after carefully returning the bass clarinet to its stand in front of us (facing the other way this time). Flans said, "Here's another brand new song." Linnell added, "From our stuff. From our new thing."

And Dan started to play the opening notes of You Probably Get That A Lot. But stopped after just a few notes. And Linnell quipped, "And here's another one." Because Marty had also started playing and he isn't supposed to come in until after the introduction. Dan just stopped for a second with his head titled slightly in a "did I just hear that" kind of pose and then turned and gave Marty the most hilarious, adorable look of "what was that?" Because Marty never makes mistakes like that. In all the shows I have been to, I have never, NEVER seen Marty blow a start like that. JoCo has this running joke when Marty plays with him where he is perpetually trying to catch Marty screwing up and it never happens. Because Marty just doesn't make mistakes. And I think Dan was seriously amused to have caught him making one. Marty on the other hand was not amused with himself. He kind of shook his head at Dan and the look he gave him was totally "Just keep going. Do NOT make a thing out of this." And I felt bad for laughing because Marty was clearly mortified at blowing the song, but the look on Dan's face was just perfect. In the whole show, I think that five seconds at the beginning of this song was my very favorite part and I have watched Q's video of this repeatedly just to see the exchange again. It just makes me giggle.

They played You Probably Get That A Lot (correctly this time) straight into The Guitar. Flans started the beginning then stopped playing while facing Marty and just let Marty carry the beat for a few bars while he grinned maniacally. Until Danny came in with the first iconic bass line. It kind of seemed like Flans was taunting Marty, trying to get him to crack but he didn't. It was funny and a little bizarre. Flans let us do most of the singing again, standing no where near the mic for most of choruses. This ends up being a pretty beautiful thing in my opinion. But it amuses me how half the crowd sings "Is it Jim?" and the other half sings "Is it Dan?" And a few people fill in Flans' typical "I don't think so" on the second line.

I assume because Linnell got the solo on The Future of Sound last time, Danny got the solo this time, let by some very humorous chanting from Flans. This mostly consisted of saying "Danny Weinkauf on the bass" repeatedly in a very goofy voice. Then he led us in a chant of "When I say Danny you say Danny" which mostly led to people just going "Danny, Danny, Danny, Danny" for a few measures. Linnell ended the whole song on some very dissonant keyboard notes.

TMBG 7/30/11 #8

Flans: "The Stone Pony, where dreams are made. The Stone Pony parking lot, where dream are destroyed."

Flans said they were excited to be back at The Stone Pony and that he could now see where the road crew had taken all their guitars (in reference to all the guitars hanging on the wall.) He said they had one song about The Stone Pony but they were working on a second one right now. He asked the guys if they were ready. "That makes four of you." I have heard The Stone Pony venue song more than any other but it's always extra special when heard in it's home. "Just like we rehearsed it," Flans declared after the song. "Just like we rehearsed it. As if we rehearsed it, ladies and gentlemen."

Linnell left the stage and Flans said he had just told him to "do some talking." But he didn't know what to say. Someone in the crowd yelled "How's your mom doing?" Flans turned this into a great "You mom" joke. "How's my mom doing? You wanna take this outside buddy? I'll tell you how your mom's doing." Linnell came back at this point (minus the long sleeve shirt he had had on over his T-shirt) and said "Ohhhhhh" with great exclamation. Flans declared that was enough of the banter with the audience.  He also pointed out that Linnell's "ohhh" had reminded him of some performer who used to have "Ohhh" as his catch phrase. Linnell provided the guy's name which was Paulie something, but I didn't catch the last name.  This ended up being a recurring joke through the rest of the show.

Flans then said that they were moving beyond the fourth wall and breaking the fifth wall with their confetti cannon array because the one on his left seemed to be pointed at them. He then noticed that the inflatable parrot from the previous night's show was in the crowd and said he recognized it. The people with the parrot cheered. Linnell said, "He didn't say he liked it." Then another "Ohhhhh." Flans said they didn't want to go waving things in front of them because they were easily distracted and the parrot people yelled that they had only come because Flans had told them to (they were the section of the crowd Flans has invited to The Stone Pony in Brooklyn).

They went straight into Turn Around out of this banter. This was the point at which I noticed that Linnell's voice sounded really weird. I was watching one of the other guys and actually had to look back to make sure it was still him singing. We later deduced that he was sick and the weird voice was a result of him being super stuffed up. It made for a very interesting vocal effect. Some people off to our left decided to provide the backing vocal on the bridge singing "round, round" at the appropriate points. But they did it in such high pitched voices they sounded like cats meowing and it ended up being really silly sounding. 

TMBG 7/30/11 #10

I believe this was the point at which Linnell had put down the accordion, only to have to pick it back up again when he realized what they were playing. Flans welcomed Dan to the keyboard and they started Puppet Head. I know several people in the crowd who were hearing this live for the first time and were very excited. We all expected them to play it in Brooklyn since they were performing at the site of the video but they didn't even have the accordion with them (possibly due to the rain). So it was very good they included it here.

TMBG 7/30/11 #11

Linnell asked what song would they play next as if it was great mystery. And they started Birdhouse. Linnell seemed particularly amused by all the people screaming "who watches over you." On the guitar solo he yelled, "I'm talking to you guys!"

With the last notes of Birdhouse still sounding Danny started up the bass riff of Spy. I'm not sure I've ever seen them play this without Stan. In fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't. Flans screamed terrifyingly at the end. Linnell began conducting the band and the audience only to be paused by Flans who asked David, the lighting guy, to stop making the lights flip around because it was too confusing. So he turned them off. So they had to ask him to turn them back on. Linnell conducted us for a minute more then pointed over to Flans, passing off conducting duties. Flans' expression at this point was hysterical as he looked alarmed and kept pointing at himself while making insane noises with his guitar. Then he moved over to our side of the stage and pointed at himself some more making total outer space noises on the guitar before bringing the audience and the band back into the mix. He didn't drag it out too long, but oh man, was it funny while it lasted.

TMBG 7/30/11 #15

I have no idea at what point in the show it was but somewhere, Danny, who was wearing a long sleeved shirt, despite it being quite warm in the room, decided to wet a towel with water from his water bottle to wipe his face. Which was somewhat normal I suppose. But I did think his decision to do so with the towel laying over a pile of wires and the bottom of cymbal stands on the drum riser was a little ill advised. All this show needed was a little accidental electrocution.

Also in the category of "not sure when it happened," Gary noted that Scott appeared on the side of the stage at one point and took a picture of Marty from behind. Wonder where that ended up?

The band broke into Free Ride and Flans scrambled to put down his guitar and man the puppet cam. He turned the camera on us and declared that he could see Bon Jovi and Rip Taylor in the crowd. "Happy Birthday, Rip Taylor. You're 200 years old." Blue Avatar declared it was an honor to be performing for so many people with fake IDs. "Ohhhh!" said Green Avatar. Blue introduced them as Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch. "Ohhhh!" said Green Avatar. (He was really having fun with this gag.) Blue said they were here to destroy our country.

"It is our pleasure to serve you. And we want to remind everybody that we are selling some official Avatars of They merchandise down the street at the Greek Diner. Every hat comes with a free complimentary cup of coffee. I wish I had hands to explain it better."

TMBG 7/30/11 #16

Blue said TMBG had been kind enough to let them perform one of their new songs. "A mistake they wont repeat," said Green. Blue said they would be hiding backstage after the show from their whipping. 

Blue said he had to smoke another menthol cigarette. Green said he did not. "That's how advanced I am." I believe this was meant as a reference to the natural deepening of his voice caused by his cold. Then Linnell totally broke character and said he just wanted to point out that the tape had come off of the camera. Not sure what tape he was referring to, but it seemed to be the tape that marked the edge of the camera view as he then tested out exactly where the edge of the screen was. I think Flans pointed out that it was still there he just couldn't see it. Blue criticized, "Keep your mouth moving, Rupert." Rupert claimed it wasn't Rupert talking but someone else. "It's Robert Siegel of NPR." Green said he was feeling very relaxed. Blue said this was part of their "rope-a-dope" routine. Green said "yes, it is" in his Robert Siegel voice. He then suggested that he could be Robert Siegel and Blue could be Noah Adams. Blue said he was Noah Adams and introduced Spoiler Alert doing a Noah Adams impression. This may have been funnier if you, like me, spent many of your formative childhood years listening to NPR in the car with your parents.

At the end of the song to fill in for the lack of the "death flute" that ends the recording, Green yelled "Ohhh" and and then said, "Robert Siegel" in his Robert Siegel voice. And at the very end as the audience was clapping Blue suddenly riffed into a line from Where Do They Make Balloons? singing "New Jersey has it's malls" in this total sing-song. This had Danny cracking up and sharing a total WTF face with Dan, but it seemed afterward that none of my friends had even noticed the line. No one remembered it happening when I mentioned it afterward and I thought I was going crazy until Rebecca realized it was in one of her videos. 

Marty finished the end of the Free Ride exit music with a little drum riff on his own which had Flans teasing him. "Mr. Marty Beller, ladies and gentlemen. The undisputed King of the Drums." Flans asked the audience how many people were actually from the area and a few people cheered. He commented that it was less than half the crowd. Someone said they had traveled here, which Flans repeated. Someone else said, "We traveled here for you, Flansy!" Flans said, "We traveled here for you too."

Linnell:  "We got paid actually. It's not quite the same."

Flans: "It's a commitment."

Linnell: "No, I's just.... lot of traffic. Grumpy, driving here."

Someone asked if they had come by chopper. Flans said they had left the chopper at home. My friend Mel yelled, "At least you're not Chris Christie." Flans said, "We are not Chris Christie." Then he started to sing Meet James Ensor. But he messed up the third line and stopped. "It was the Chris Christie think that messed me up. I was thinking about his medical records. I'm not going to release them no matter what happens." Linnell suggested he could substitute Chris Christie for James Ensor in the song. Flans said no quite vehemently. More rounds of "Ohhhhh!" Flans said he wasn't trying to get political. "I'm just trying to be evil. Big difference." Then he started the song again. And messed up in the exact same spot in the exact same way. But this time he just kept going. Poor Flansy. There was some difficulty in the guitar solo near the end too but I'm not sure what the issue was.

TMBG 7/30/11 #17

Afterward Linnell started speculating on whether Chris was the nickname for Christie. Like his name was actually Robert Christie and he went by Chris like Ozzy Osborne. Flans pointed out that people call him Flansy Flansburgh and that that was the problem with nicknames. Flans announced they had so many songs they didn't know how to play for us. Multiple people started shouting requests. Linnell said that if we wanted to throw them off their game, this was the perfect night. "Say some weird shit and creep us out. Wreck the show. Wreck the show and then live with yourself. And then live with yourself." At which point Flans started up a chant of "Wreck the show, wreck the show." But then he said it was too late. Linnell said, "You can't do that. We did that." Flans muttered something about keeping the show fresh and always wanting to do a memorable show at The Stone Pony and then introduced Old Pine Box. During the banter prior to the song, Flans had taped a cheat sheet of lyrics to Linnell's setlist for himself. This blew up in the air while they were talking and I was worried it would fail to serve it's purpose, but Linnell noticed and secured it with his water bottle.

Two very funny things happened during the bridge of the song. The first was that Linnell sneezed in the middle of a line. And then he stepped back for a second to recover and came back in to sing the next line and sang the wrong lyric. And he stepped back again just shaking his head. It was incredibly amusing. 

They transitioned straight into Istanbul with Dan successfully executing his solo without issue this time. They only did one fake ending. And started Never Knew Love almost immediately after. Flans finally got the verses straight this time. He must have been practicing. Linnell wasn't doing the backing vocal, but Q was providing it for him off to my left. This seemed to amuse Linnell quite a bit. 

TMBG 7/30/11 #18

They busted into Cyclops Rock next. And it was going swimmingly. Until Flansburgh started singing the chorus over what should have been the end of the verse. He stopped the guys and Linnell started talking about how cool it sounded and saying they should play it that way all the time. He was really impressed by how well it had worked and was saying that was the true craft of song writing right there. Flans said, "People this doesn't just happen. This is 30 years of professional work." Flans then suggested they try performing two songs at the same time.

Flans said, "I think I know what I did wrong. I put the song in the set. No, no. Just kidding." And then he mimed shooting himself in the head while making an exploding noise.

Linnell said it was something to think about for the next show. Then he commented that the band was completely poker faced. "Didn't any of you guys think it was cool?" Danny said yes. Linnell was like, "Danny did. He was listening."

Flans: "I think on a musical level it was cool. On a refund level.."

Linnell: "It was uncool. Meaning their wont be a refund. That's the uncool part."

Flans: "There is no make-up date. This show is strictly rain or shine, people. We've performed in this room while it was raining... in this room."

Linnell referenced playing with a 50 gallon trash barrel on the stage. Flans tried to get them back on track. Linnell said he had two choices of how to proceed. Flans started doing some backwards singing, then decided to start again from the top. He said he was going to play the guitar louder so that if there were any accidents no one would notice. And they made it through the song. Yay!

Flans: "We're moving out of the earn as you learn portion of the show, ladies and gentlemen and back to the professional portion.

Linnell commented that someone in the crowd had said "You did it!" His impression of the person saying this was quite priceless. "I feel really competent now. I did it. I played a song."

TMBG 7/30/11 #19

They started She's An Angel with some minimal electronic noises. And played straight from that into Particle Man. Linnell riffed at the beginning as he changed keys. "And back up to E again. And back down to C." Not sure what he was doing but it was goofy. This Particle Man featured an especially entertaining bridge.

Linnell: "Person Man"

*Audience starts clapping*

"Don't clap along."

*Audience claps for another couple beats*


*Some more lyrics*

"They have a fight."

Flans: *Singing in falsetto* "They have a fight."

Linnell: "Triangle wins."

Flans: *In a very quiet falsetto* "Triangle wins."

Linnell: "They have a fight."

Flans: "I said triangle wins."

Linnell: "And you know that the end is always the same guy wins."

Flans: "I already said he wins."

Linnell: "It's never different from night to night."

Flans: "Look at the final page of the book. There's a picture of Triangle Man.... flipping you the bird."

Linnell: "I'm almost at the point of being sick of this. But not quite."

Flans: "No John, there's much much more to go."

Linnell: "Cause stuff is sometimes not what you think," *changing keys* "F Sharp! Back to the same part."

Then they broke back into the song while Linnell yelled, "You wanted that to happen! You like that! You like it!" Then he came and played the accordion in my face. It was awesome.

TMBG 7/30/11 #29

Flans said there were going to be two times that they were going to be dividing the audience in half. "And it's not between the people who think we are doing a competent show and the people who think we are doing an incompetent show." He said they were going to divide us between the men and the women to perform Drink! "We are going to feed on the negative energy of the men and the eternal patience of the women." He told the men that their "safe word" was "No" and the women that their safe word was "wait." "So it goes like this... Drink! No! Wait! Except it's much faster than that. And it's in waltz time." We did a sound check. Flans said he couldn't hear the women. We did it again and the women screamed. "Now I could hear the women."

TMBG 7/30/11 #31

And I finally got to perform the intervention version of Drink! (I might have done this once before actually. I can't remember. But I'm gonna say this was the first time.) It went off really surprisingly well. Our timing was quite excellent. 

TMBG 7/30/11 #20

Dan started riffing the beginning of Damn Good Times. Flans inserted the band intros into the song again, without a whole lot of fanfare. When he introduced Danny, he held up his bass in front of his face and played like that for a minute, making it look like he literally, was the bass. I believe it was at the end of this song that Danny's bass crapped out and just stopped working. But they got it working again in pretty short order. There was a bit of entertaining guitar and keyboard fill as Victor did something to the back of the amp. And then they were back in business. Flans announced the new album again. He said it came with a free six foot tall poster with every six foot tall poster purchase. He said we could hang it up in our parents garage. Linnell suggested using it as a bed cover. And they played the single, Can't Keep Johnny Down to finish the set.

TMBG 7/30/11 #34

While the guys were outside before the encore the crowd got a really good chant of "They Might Be Giants" going. It's kind of unfortunate the band wasn't inside to hear it, though they might have been able to even through the wall.

They came back and straight to the camera for another Avatar song. They made a joke about hands-free puppeteering. Blue carried out a very entertaining rap. "We here at the Avatars of They have seen a lot of rock show because we love the treble kicking indie rock. But I don't think it's since The Replacements played in Hoboken that we've seen such a discombobulated set. But my question is, those guys were high.... what's our excuse?" Then he introduced Dan and they sang Shooting Star, the only "children's song" from the set.

TMBG 7/30/11 #38

They followed this with Judy which was a pretty shocking contrast. If you want to see something really impressive, watch Marty drum this song. It'll make your jaw drop. It's really something to see. And Flans got the words right! You did it, Flans!!

TMBG 7/30/11 #22

Straight into Fingertips. It felt a little like they were rushing through the encores, but it was quite a long show and I think Linnell was feeling pretty crappy by the end. Danny came right out to the edge of the stage to play Please Pass The Milk, Please and was really mugging for the cameras off to my left. But as a result he was swinging the end of his bass around and I was quite concerned I was going to get whacked in the head with it, as it really was that close to my face. I think he was actually quite aware of where it was in relation to my face and wouldn't have hit me but I leaned back instinctively. Linnell was having real difficulty doing any sort of belting by this point and the ends of both Mysterious Whisper and Darkened Corridors were kind of swallowed.

TMBG 7/30/11 #42

At this point I was getting rather concerned about the fact that they had yet to play When Will You Die but I peaked at the setlist and noted that it was up next, as the first song of the second encore. I warned the folks behind me to get ready. And then they came back and didn't play it. I held out a little hope that they were just saving it for last. And I was temporarily distracted by what they did play.

Because Flans announced they were dividing the audience again for Battle of the Planet of the Apes. Holy shit, says I! It has been years since they did this. I looked it up when I got home and found it hadn't been played since 2003 and that was only 2 performances. They haven't done it regularly since 1999. I mean, Marty had never even played it before! And I was psyched! Flans explained how it was going to work, with the ladies representing the people. He had us chant "People" with him. Then he told us it was a beautiful sound and that we were tremendous representations of civilization. Then he said, "In a role so stereotypical for the men, you are the apes." And he had the men chant "apes" with him. But then he said that Danny couldn't hear them. Danny made some mock hand to the ears gestures of not being able to hear them. They chanted louder. Flans accused them of "shitty ape chanting." Flans said he and Linnell were with the apes. "Like always," said Linnell. And the band was with the ladies. This got a lot of cheers from the ladies, including myself. And somewhere in all this explanation Danny walked around to back of the drum riser and retrieved a drum stick from Marty which he set aside for some unknown later purpose. 

The song started, as always with the People and the band doing some crazy improv. But I have to say the "People" on my side of the room were woefully non-participatory. I felt like the only one on my side of the stage chanting. And the "apes" didn't seem to get that they were supposed to chant only while the Johns were playing. From an audience participation stand point the song was kind of a disaster with no one quite understanding the instructions. But it still sounded cool and I was excited to participate none the less. During the second "people" round, Danny picked up the drum stick and started using it to play the bass, smacking it against the strings instead of using his fingers. It was incredibly entertaining and of course no one got a picture because everyone was busy chanting. And because no one ever gets a picture of Danny playing the bass with unusual objects, myself included. Still bitter that there is no photographic evidence of the beer bottle slide from last year. 

TMBG 7/30/11 #44

Needless to say the People won. They always do. I mentioned to Flans on Twitter a few days later that I was disappointed with the lack of audience participation in the performance and he replied that if they were going to successfully bring that back he was going to have to tighten up his rap. I was just shocked at how many fans didn't know how the routine worked in the first place. But I kind of hope they try it again because it was super fun.

After declaring the winner, they played New York City and then left the stage for the final time. So all of my preparations for When Will You Die were for not. It got cut from the set, presumably because Linnell didn't feel up to performing it. Not gonna pretend I wasn't a bit crushed. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity to hear it again, but not with so many of my friends in the crowd to execute the high five. Oh, well. 

I got my setlist from Victor pretty easily but it was kind of funny. About six other people all reached in around me trying to grab it, but he purposefully held it out of all of their reach and let me lean in for it to ensure it didn't get snatched from me. He takes good care of me and my setlist needs. Gary also managed to snag Flans' Old Pine Box cheat sheet, which had been tossed to the floor, with a little help from Heather. The setlist is entertainingly labeled with stars in the corners that say Bon Jovi, Rip Taylor and Tony Danza. Thus the joke the Avatars made I assume.

TMBG 7/30/11 #47

TMBG 7/30/11 #46

Marty appeared briefly off the side of the stage and handed a drum stick to someone. We waved at each other and there was a weird moment when I thought he was going to say something but he didn't. Perhaps he thought I was going to say something and I wasn't and we were both confused. 

We also hung out long enough that David came up to start taking apart the confetti cannons and we realized they had never gone off. He let us reach into them and pull out wads of confetti to take home with us and Heather asked when they had been supposed to launch. He said that he thought Linnell had gone to flip the switch at one point but that he noticed that the one to his left had shifted so that it was pointing at the stage, and opted not to cover the band with confetti. Official verdict is that the new lighting guy is very nice and friendly so that's a plus. Wonder if he will stick around?

Flans mentioned on Tumblr after the show that they were phasing out the confetti cannons which I found rather alarming. I asked him about that on Twitter too and he said they were trying to keep the show fresh and that they didn't want it to become a routine. Which is funny because that is exactly how I have referred to it on more than one occasion. But I think that was evidenced in this set by the presence of older tunes they haven't played in a while. Except for the Join Us songs it really did feel like a set from the late 90s. They played nothing from The Else, only Damn Good Times from The Spine and just one song from any of the kids albums (plus the venue song but that was a given). I'll be very curious to see if this trend continues into the fall and what new surprises they have in store for us. And whether or not we are going to completely loose the confetti.

We said good bye to our friends, some until September, some until who knows when. And then we all piled back into the mini-van. We dropped Anna at the train station to go back to New York and made the trek back across New Jersey in a sort of silence that was almost eerie after the noise of the venue and the crowds we had been with all day. But we had a lovely post show rehash in J&R's kitchen with cookies and liquor when we got back. I wish all shows could end that way. 

I realized this morning that the September tour starts a month from today (or the today when I started writing long before midnight). If it's possible I think I am looking forward to that even more than I looked forward to the five shows in July. 15 shows in 24 days. It'll either be the absolute time of my life or I will be completely burnt out by the end. Possibly both. Either way, it can't get here soon enough. 

Finally, please enjoy Rebecca's highlight video of the show, which includes many of the best moments. Enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 266

Today's song is...

Why Does The Sun Really Shine?

It is my opinion that it is Flansburgh's falsetto that makes this song work so very well. That and the almost angry fervor with which he performs it. "That thesis has been rendered invalid" is sung almost as an accusation. This is such a tongue in cheek jibe at themselves. "Forget that song. They got it wrong." I'm not sure they could have written a more perfect answer song. And they rhymed 'miasma' with 'plasma' which is just stellar. Plus the video is really amusing.

I heard so many different variations on the origin of this song, but my favorites were those Flansburgh told while Jon Altschuler was in the audience and given full credit for the idea. Discounting The Else preview show, where I did not yet know the band, the material or even what was new and what was old, this was the first new song I was (consciously) present for the premiere of. That, for me, was a very exciting experience.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Song of The Day - Day 265

Today's song is...

Out Of Jail

A song I used to not pay any attention to, until one day I suddenly realized it is actually one of my favorite Flansburgh tunes. I really love the guitar riff and the lyrics are kind of sad and funny. It's a surprising little rocker tucked in at the end of the album. I love the lyric "Wish I'd gotten to know her, before I fell in love."  This is just some good quality Flansburgh song writing, particularly in the instrument arrangement.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

And Then The Rains Came

July 29, 2011 - Williamsburg Waterfront - Brooklyn, NY

Wow. This show was an experience you had to be there to believe. As someone said on Twitter "If you didn't get your underwear soaked at TMBG in Williamsburg, you weren't there." And oh boy, was I there!

Unlike Lancaster we got to this show three hours before doors. When we first parked, it was just TDK and Paul in line but we spent a few minutes wandering around trying to find a place to buy soda and when we got down to the line another three people were already in it plus Kathy. And it seemed that everyone in front of us had friends join them so we went from sixth in line to about 12th by the time we were let in.

New York brought out some sweltering heat to enjoy during our 3 hour outdoor wait on the sidewalk. One very saavy ice cream man saw the advantage in the situation and pulled his truck over across the street and was swarmed by hot TMBG fans.

The line grew rapidly behind us and at last check before we were let in, it stretched from 8th street all the way to 12th and probably beyond. There was a constant stream of people assuming we were the end of the line who had to be directed on down the street. I know the venue holds about 6000 people and I don't know if we had that many but it had to have been several thousand at least.

We went into the park to use the Port-a-Potty early on (turns out we weren't really supposed to) and saw Flans and Marty on stage getting stuff set up. Later as we stood outside, Danny drove up in his car and parked right in the middle of the roadblock in front of the entrance to the park while he attempted to figure out where he was supposed to go. He got some directions and revved off down the street again. We found this terribly entertaining.

I got to meet a few new folks in line. Some friends of Kathy's that I knew of but hadn't formally met. A couple of guys that had made my personal favorite of the contest winning Johnny videos. And a kid whose name I never managed to get. Hi, nameless kid. You were cool. Hope you enjoyed the show!

We could pretty clearly hear the sound check though we were not in a position to see the stage. They ran through Johnny, Cloisonne, When Will You Die and parts of You Probably Get That A Lot, Judy and a bit of riff from Meet the Elements. There was also a lot of general drum banging. Jonathan Coulton eventually came out for soundcheck as well and did Shop Vac and something else I don't remember.

Gary and Rebecca ran into JoCo outside on his phone on a successful trip to an alternate set of Port-a-Pottys. Megan, Kathy and I all spotted Dan on another (unsuccessful this time...stupid security) trip to those same facilities. So, as is typical, spotted all the guys before the show except Linnell.

We finally were let into the park later than we had been promised. We had to go through a security check and the guy was uber thorough on my tiny purse. He even made me empty my pockets. Not sure what he thought I might have. Then he barely gave Gary a pat down. This delay scattered our already sizeable crowd as we trudged up a hill onto stage level and bolted into the rows of folding chairs.

We took over most of the front row of chairs to the right of the aisle with myself, Gary, Megan, Kathy, Marci, Melanie, Colin and Tessa with John, Rebecca, Finn, Heather, Jim and their friends in the row behind us. The rest of the folks we know went to the left so if you want the story from that side of the stage you can go hit up one of them.

Flans came out and passed out Join Us stickers to some of the folks over by the barrier on the right of the stage. Heather managed to get over and give him one of their TMBG themed pathtags from geocaching like the one that hangs on my purse.

We had been informed on our way in that the chairs were going to be removed before TMBG went on which was just fine with us. But at some point before the comedians who opened the show went on, the people to our left stood up to take positions on the barrier. So we jumped up to avoid anyone getting in front of us. But when Eugene Mirman came out to start the show, security made us all sit down again. It was a little awkward because some people had come up behind us who didn't have chairs and they had nowhere to go but they were allowed to hang on the sides of the aisles.

As all of this was going on, the sky was growing omminously dark. A couple of minutes into Eugene Mirman's set it started to sprinkle and then the skys opened up and it started to pour. We rapidly went from a little wet to soaked. A three inch deep puddle grew under our feet. I had been sitting on the front of my chair and a puddle developed behind me preventing me from moving back and soaking my butt thoroughly.

Pretty Good Friends 7/29/11 #1

Jim Gaffigan followed Eugene. Every comedian was quite funny but I have to say, just about the last thing you want to do when sitting outside in the pouring rain is listen to comedy. Kristen Schaal went up next and she at least got points from every wet fan in the crowd by doing a bit re-enacting Flashdance which involved her getting water dumped on her head. It did eventually stop raining. Briefly. (Apologies. I don't have a picture of Kristen. It was pouring too hard.)

Pretty Good Friends 7/29/11 #2

Todd Barry came out. The rains started again. There was some very heavy thunder. Eugene came back with Neil Degrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium (who had a beer in his hand the entire time). They answered some questions about science that had been collected from the audience before the show. This was a lot more entertaining than you'd think. But by this point it had started pouring again, even harder than the last time. There was nothing dry left on my person. Even the stuff that was wet got wetter. Neil pointed out that once you were completely wet you actually could not get any wetter. This may be true but not entirely comforting.

Pretty Good Friends 7/29/11 #3

Pretty Good Friends 7/29/11 #4

Patton Oswald came out to close out the comedians. By this point I was starting to freeze and was actually pretty miserable and lost my ability to laugh even though it was still funny. But it stopped raining by the end of his set and I started feeling a warm breeze again.

Pretty Good Friends 7/29/11 #5

When Jonathan Coulton was announced we all stood up again with or without the consent of security and they didn't attempt to stop us. The first thing I did was wring out my dress. I could have filled a water bottle with the water I squeezed out of my dress and hair. And I couldn't even do anything about my shoes.

JoCo 7/29/11 #1

JoCo only did 4 songs. I don't know if that was intended or if he cut it short because the show was running long. He opened with Shop Vac. Then Alone At Home from his new album. Then an excellent Mr. Fancy Pants. And he closed with the traditional Re: Your Brains. He was excited about having a crowd of thousands of sopping wet fans to play his zombies. And we were excellent zombies.

JoCo 7/29/11 #3

The crew ran through resetting the stage impressively fast. JoCo had promised us TMBG in five minutes and while it wasn't quite that fast it wasn't much more than ten.

And I have to say, as a general comment, that for a crowd as wet and miserable as we were the energy level was still intense when the band hit the stage. I think maybe everyone was especially determined to enjoy themselves after the hours in line and the drenching rain.

Keeping the energy level at maximum volume, the band opened with Birdhouse. Nothing like thousands of people all screaming "Who watches over you!"

Marty revved us into Clap Your Hands. Flans yelled my favorite line. "Aw, shit, clap your hands!" As I jumped in the air I could feel water squishing in my shoes and shaking off the back of my dress. It was also a challenge to jump in the close quarters of the front row. Danny performed some quite amusing stomping in the "stomp your feet" section, swinging his bass back and forth as he swung back and forth from one foot to the other in total contrast with the tempo of the music.

Johnny is quickly becoming a favorite to hear live. It's just fun to watch and the boys really get to show off their chops. And Linnell almost mostly gets the keyboard part right. He hasn't gotten to the lazy stage of performing a song yet where he just fudges his way through it. He's really still trying to get it perfect. (That's not meant to be a criticism of his playing. I actually find it really endearing the way he just fudges through complicated passages when he's in a hurry). And it also amuses me that they are still new enough at the performance that Danny has to walk up to the keyboard at the end of every performance of the song so that he and Linnell can look at each other to come in on the final chord at the same time.

TMBG 7/29/11 #2

"This song is called Damn Good Times and it's about this show." Wow, Dan really outdid himself on this DGT solo, particularly the screeching slide at the end. Then he left the stage as they set up on of the songs he doesn't play on. Flans apologized for the weather, commenting that this was the second big outdoor festival they had recently done in the rain. Linnell said the next song was one of their earliest and that it wasn't insulting to say you liked their early work. Flans said we were traveling back to 2007. But it was a fake out since they did Don't Let's Start.

TMBG 7/29/11 #4

I don't know what kind of hyper pills Danny took before this song but he kind of went insane. He was hopping in circles on the choruses, kicking his leg out in the air and doing wilding exaggerated arm flailing off of each of the note on the letters (D,O,N, etc). And I think his hyper activity was contagious because Flans got in on the action, jumping up and down and eventually taking off his guitar and playing it over his head. It was pretty wild.

Yet another attempt at Judy and Flans managed to screw up the last lyrics yet again. He just can't get the "Judy lies but you believe her" and "Judy is the great deceiver" lyrics straight. This is a fantastic song for watching Marty explode all over his drum kit except this time I couldn't see him. But we could hear every beat bizarrely magnified because the giant speakers in front of us had sheet plastic wrapped around them and latched on with a single strap around the middle. So with each beat of the kick drum the plastic pulsed against the speakers with this weird snapping plastic sound. It was an effect I found oddly fascinating but it was apparently rather obnoxious for my friends who were standing closer to it.

Flans claimed the next song was off their debut album, They Might Be Giants on Bar None Records, but was lying again as it turned out to be The Mesopotamians. You just can't believe anything he says :-)

TMBG 7/29/11 #5

Linnell pointed out the expensive New York City Skyline backdrop that they had purchased for the show, which was in fact, the actual NYC skyline spread out behind us. With the sun setting and the evening actually becoming quite pleasant, the skyline was stunning if a little foggy. They made some jokes about going all out for the Brooklyn crowd with the skyline and the rain effects. And surprisingly the crowd was easily able to laugh at their sodden state.

TMBG 7/29/11 #10

Flans also messed up Never Knew Love again, this time reversing the first and second verses almost entirely.

Before the next song, they stopped for some extended banter that made me laugh harder than anything else all day. Fortunately, this part was captured on video so I can quote it verbatim.

Flans started out mentioning their Asbury Park show the next day and inviting just a small section of the crowd to the show because he said that would fill the room. Then he asked that the lights be turned on the audience "like the Bon Jovi show."

Flans: "Look at those faces. Leave those lights on for a second. Look at all those people. Look at all those satisfied customers. People, your luck is just about to change. It's time to turn that frown inside out, people.

We've been having a crazy week. We actually talked to Robert Siegel, the guy who announces All Things Considered, which is exactly like talking to God. "

Linnell: "The weird thing is he looks like a little kid whose got a shaved head and he sits in this like, pod. It was really weird because we expected a full grown adult and it was like..

*doing a Robert Siegel impression* "Come in gentleman. I am a small boy with a shaved head."

(That was the bit that particularly made me laugh)

Flans: "And then yesterday we were on the Jimmy Fallon Show and every time..

*crowd cheers* (I wanted to point out that it had been the day before yesterday, but no one cared.)

...wait a minute, please hold your applause for our performance on The Jimmy Fallon Show. You know, every time you are on television, it is like being shot out of a cannon into another cannon.

(Flans made this same joke in Lancaster.)

But then at the very end of our performance, unbeknownst to us, the author Fran Lebowitz had been booked on the show, and Jimmy Fallon is like "I want to thank our guests They Might Be Giants and Fran Lebowitz" (*Flans is miming holding the giant album cover Jimmy Fallon was carrying during this part*) and all of a sudden Fran Leibowitz is right here standing next to me and it's like, it might as well have been "I'd like to thank Harry Truman for coming on the show."

Linnell: "And she was like *in the Robert Siegel voice again* "Hello gentlemen, come in."

(More laughing from me.)

Flans: "And then today this! An entire crowd of people, soaked to the bone. As we were walking over here, just like a couple of hours ago, there were actually people that were leaving who were like super pissed off. I'm glad they're not here! Fuck those people! Can't take a little weather. I see you guys are all weather jocks. You have no concerns about weather. It's like, "Bring it." So John, what's this next song?"

Linnell: "This next song is a question. And the question is... WHEN...Will You Die?"

And I finally got to rock out properly to my song at the front of the stage. Danny and Marty seem to get a kick out of their call outs in the song. Dan remains concentrated on his guitar part but boogies on the side of the stage. Linnell points at himself and Flans. Everything is adorable. Flans randomly screams "Kid Rooooock!" into the mic. All is excellent.

They got set up for the Avatars. Danny gave me a thumbs up from the back of the stage. We started with Sea of Hands. Jumbotrons got a call out. The Avatars introduced themselves as Rebekah Brooks and and Rupert Murdoch. Blue Avatar said the crowd was "even more handsome on television." He also said he thought the crowd was going to start singing "that Bon Jovi song when I saw them on screen." There was some typical schtick with the hat and James Cameron preventing them from singing their own songs so they had to sing TMBG songs. Blue said that the Green Avatar preferred the "treble kicking indie rock. He likes the drum machine songs." Green Avatar said he felt more like the purple one today. Blue said, "I think it looks different when you're below in, John." Way to break character Flans! The screen was actually displaying in black and white so Green didn't look anything other than gray. Blue asked if the audience was seeing them in full color. We all yelled "No." Blue said he couldn't tell if we were saying no or just booing them. Green said it sounded like no if you were down there but yes if you were up here. Blue admitted, "Yeah, we bought a crappy camera. It's true. But it was cheap."

Blue said they like the new TMBG album so they were going to perform a song from that never before performed live on stage. More lies, as it was the same one they did last night. I'm telling you. Do not trust this man ;-) Blue asked if he could get a what, what. The audience went "What? What?" He said if he had hands we would be in the palm of them. Then Flans put his hand in front of the camera and said, "Look at my enormous hand!" And then in reference to the fact that his wedding ring was hugely magnified, "I'm married. Settle down, ladies. Settle down." In retrospect, this may have been the comment that was most quoted after the show. In fact, I'm almost sure of it.

Flans managed to do Spoiler Alert without his cheat sheet this time. And the puppets movements on and off the camera were hysterical. Plus Linnell's head was clearly visible in the corner of the screen the whole time. At the line about "two extra pairs of hands" Linnell stuck his other hand in front of the camera and waved it around. Then Flans stuck his hand back in front of the camera on the other side. And when the line "cover my eyes" came, Linnell covered the puppet's eyes with his hand. Blue Avatar tilted his head back to imitate resting and reclining at the appropriate moment. Honestly, I don't think there could have been a funnier or more perfect performance of the song.

There is a note on the setlist that says "Marty Ana Beat Solo" and that is indeed what followed the Avatars. Marty began pounding out the beat to Ana Ng as the Johns put the puppets to bed and made their way back to their positions on stage, until eventually everyone joined him and they started the song. Dan was jumping in time with some of the beats on the verses. There was another song earlier where he was just bouncing in the air but I don't remember which one it was.

As Linnell and Dan switched places for the next song, some people in the crowd were chanting "Doctor Worm" but the band couldn't understand what they were chanting. Flans was imitating them, chanting, "What you said. What you said." He also pointed out this guy in the crowd that we had noticed before who was carrying a large black foam sword and waving it in the air. Flans was frightened. He said, "Peace." Meanwhile the sword started fighting with a large inflatable parrot that was also being waved in the air. Totally bizarre.

Flans claimed the next song, You Probably Get That A Lot, was being performed for the second time. More lies, as it was actually the fifth. He executed some more amusing arm gestures and facial expressions while singing but sadly, the main thing most of our crowd noticed while he was performing this was that the shirt he had chosen was a bit too small.

TMBG 7/29/11 #6

The band shuffled on stage again. Flans said he had two words for us: "The bass clarinet." Linnell held up three fingers indicating that that had actually been three words. Flans response was, "The 'the' is parenthetical, for all the researchers out there." I am still really enjoying this song live. Linnell did his dying goose improv at the end again, which I love. It's also just terribly entertaining watching him play the clarinet. It's such an awkward thing to walk around a stage with and he makes great faces doing it. And Danny was dancing while he played the keyboard which was pretty funny. Dan also makes this amazing noise with his guitar at the beginning which I don't even feel like should be able to come out of a guitar and yet it does. There is just nothing about this song that isn't cool.

Flans asked if they could do a little Graveyard. He then proceeded to thank individual members of the audience for coming to the show in falsetto. A guy in a blue shirt. A girl with a "head thing on her head" and finally "I wanna thank the tall guy in the baseball cap and the short lady standing right behind, her hate you. For the whole show. She's hating you for the whole show. He's 8 feet tall. She's small feet small. And she hates you." I actually recognized this guy as one of the Johnny video contest runners up. He's the one in the video with the Polaroids.

TMBG 7/29/11 #7

Dan got a very brief shout out. Then Flans attempted to replicate the intro he did for Danny in Lancaster but it didn't come out as well. "Put your tiny hands together for Mr. Danny Weinkauf on the bass. His name is Danny Weinkfauf. When I say Danny Weinkauf, you say Danny Weinkauf. Danny Weinkauf!" Crowd: "Danny Weinkauf!" Flans: "Thank you." Then a very typical screaming session for Marty except both the ladies and the "8 foot tall guy" got their own shot at screaming.

Flans announced they had time for one more number and it was called Blues in G. (He did at least admit he was lying this time.) He introduced Dan for the intro to Istanbul. And what followed was actually kind of awful, though it all turned out ok in the end. Dan started to play the solo and then his guitar exploded with massive feedback. He stopped playing and went around behind the drum to try to sort it. Flans tried to think up something to cover with. Linnell started making imitation guitar feedback noises on his keyboard to compete with the ones coming out of the guitar. Flans started teasing Dan asking, "Mr. Dan Miller, is he gonna be playing soon?" Dan was not in a good humor for this. He had come back around with his Telecaster and started to play a bit of super speed riff, before that guitar crapped out too and he just stopped with a gesture at the sound booth and an obviously frustrated comment directed back stage. I felt awful for him and I think Flansburgh's attempt to lighten the mood just made it worse. This is the kind of thing, I just find painful to watch. The band covered and proceeded into the song while Dan got his guitar going, but you could just tell he wasn't happy. And it was all kind of tense and awful, until the end. Because at the end during one of the fake endings, Linnell tossed in some of the fake guitar feedback noises he had been making on the keyboard at the beginning. And Dan finally just cracked up. I mean, he was just cackling on stage which was absolutely wonderful to see. Because Dan Miller has the most amazing full bodied laugh and the camaraderie that was apparent between them, as Linnell was obviously just trying to make Dan lighten up and realize it wasn't so bad. It was just beautiful.

They came back for one encore. Flans encouraged us to buy all of the tracks on Join Us individually on iTunes (possibly not right then, but at some point). He thanked us repeatedly for coming. And then they closed out the night with Fingertips. It was a fairly typical performance. Linnell set some goofy noises playing on the Kaoss Pad during I Don't Understand You. Dan led us in epic arm waving in Mysterious Whisper. Instead of ad-libbing on Heart Attack Flans scratched his guitar pick across his mic. For the final Fingertips, Flans set his own mic next to Dan's so that Dan had two and alternated syllables between them. He had actually done this the night before too and I forgot. Instead of belting the last line of Darkened Corridors, Linnell just repeated the line over and over adding a syllable to it each time until he got to the end. And Dan coordinated with Marty to end the song on a killer slide and drum crash, ending the show with a literal bang.

There was some question after the show of how we would acquire a setlist if one were presented to us because we were separated from the stage by a four foot photographer's alley (which had been full earlier in the show) and the stage was impossibly high. But Victor, ever looking out for my setlist needs, solved this problem by flagging down a confused security guard to hand deliver my setlist to me. He is the best.

TMBG 7/29/11 #11

We united with Megan's friend Anna who was traveling with us to Asbury the next day and trudged back to the car and sat, still dripping wet, in traffic for what seemed like a lifetime. But good company and good memories made all the difference.