Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Do You Spell TLA?

September 30, 2011 - TLA - Philadelphia, PA

In my years as a fan, following this band around, and all the times they have played this venue, this was the first time I ever managed to see them there. Previous shows were always ones I couldn't get to for one reason or another. This was also a reunion of sorts, as after weeks with just me and Gary driving around to shows, we met back up with most of our friends for this one. We arrived too early, as usual, and discovered we were not actually "allowed" to line up yet. So instead of standing in a line we stood in a cluster on the sidewalk pretending not to be in line. There was also a deal where for $10 you could buy an early entry fast pass into the venue that allowed you to enter before everyone else. I, of course, ran into more IFC guest list ticket issues, as this was the show I had used my tickets for, and in keeping with pattern, the list, and thus my tickets, was not available until probably around 20 minutes before they let us in. It all worked out in the end but, damn, that was a nerve wracking experience to go through over and over again.

There was a lot of confusion over where the line was supposed to be once we were actually allowed to line up. We were directed to an alley that ran down the side of the building. First we started on one side of the sidewalk. Then we were directed to move to the other side of the sidewalk. Then later, those of us with the fast pass tickets were moved back over to the side we had started on. I am always baffled when places who do shows nearly daily, still don't have their line management strategy sorted out.

This show also has the distinction of being the one at which I met my friends Becky and Ryan and their son, Logan, who were in line in front of us. Seems like everywhere I go, I meet more and more cool fans and my "crew" gets bigger and bigger over time. I actually met, at least briefly, a lot of people at this show, because I put some serious effort into getting everyone in line to sign the birthday card I was doing for Dan at the time. That card was really full by time the doors opened. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it once it was complete, but I know there are a few floating out there that show it in a partially finished state.

After running back to the box office multiple times, I finally acquired my tickets, and the early entry line was ushered down the sidewalk and into the theater. I had to stop and snag my goodie bag from the merch table, then joined my group on the right side of the stage. I seem to remember this venue in particular being pretty cramped with people up at the front, and I had some concern over where to put my goodie bag so it wouldn't get crushed or lost. I also had the misfortune to get a goodie bag that was missing half of what was supposed to come in it, though Anna fixed that up for me after the show.

I remember virtually nothing about JoCo's set, except for the fact that when Brandon spotted me he ducked across the stage to give me a high five. This apparently either impressed or confused the people standing behind me as they later asked if I knew him. There are clearly a lot of JoCo fans in Philly (including a few I saw who were more there for him than TMBG) because there were some hearty sing-a-longs to some of the classic songs, Still Alive in particular. This was JoCo's last show of the tour, as there was to be no opener in Boston, so it was a little bitter sweet. I saw him plenty more in the spring, but with a different bass player and I did miss Brandon. Oh, and JoCo made a point of saying that they had had to go out and buy new shirts for the show because they were out of clean ones. I particularly liked the color of Brandon's.

JoCo 9/30/11 #4

The TMBG set looked like this:

Philadelphia - When WIll You Die - We Live In A Dump - The Mesopotamians - Take Out The Trash - Don't Let's Start - XTC vs. Adam Ant - Can't Keep Johnny Down - Celebration - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Clap Your Hands - Withered Hope - Battle for the Planet of the Apes - Cloisonné - Spoiler Alert - Alphabet Of Nations - You Probably Get That A Lot - Los Angeles - Fingertips - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - Old Pine Box - Ana Ng - Particle Man - Subliminal  Encore - Careful What You Pack - Istanbul  Encore 2 - Lie Still, Little Bottle - Doctor Worm

I was thrilled to finally see the TLA venue song live. I was a little disappointed that the TLA dancers didn't make an appearance, but as Dan Miller entered the stage near the end of the song, he did a round of the T-L-A hand motions while he was walking which made up for it.

Perhaps inspired by our setting in Philly, Flans asked us if we were ready to enact change before they played When Will You Die, which once again featured Flans yelling "Kid Rock" at the end. He went on to explain that Kid Rock's first album featured him yelling "Kid Rock" in all of the silent sections, which made the album second only to INXS in the silent sections being the most exciting sections of the song. Flans said that while yelling "Kid Rock" may seem a little odd for their song, it sounded a lot better then yelling "INXS".

We Live In A Dump was dedicated to all the apartment dwellers in the audience. Take Out The Trash featured some well timed clapping provided by the audience and some very enthusiastic cowbell playing by Linnell.

TMBG 9/30/11 #1

Flans told us that before the show they had been speculating on whether people posted on Yelp about rock bands. He said it might help people understand the rock experience and went on to provide a mock review of a show. "We left the house around 6:00pm super excited. It started out strong. Too much salt in the middle of the show."

Post-XTC Flans broke in with an announcement that they needed to increase their insurance coverage because Marty was blowing the roof off the room. He claimed that in less than an hour the roof would be gone because "Marty is at war with the roof. Make sure our paperwork is in order."

Flans informed us that they had a new album out and unlike other bands that had "make believe new albums" theirs was real and "not only worthy of mention but of performance."

Flans asked for the house lights to be turned on before Celebration so they could see us and asked repeatedly if we were ready for the celebration. After people hollered "yes" a number of times, he said he didn't believe us but started the song anyway.

Marty really did make a pretty good effort to blow the roof off in his drum solo at the start of Clap Your Hands. I was quite impressed.

Flans divided us with his flashlight for the Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He claimed it had two settings and the second was LASIK. He admonished my friend Cindy for filming the process and told her to put down her camera. Then he criticized the people in the balcony and made them stand up. I was on Team Ape this time around. The battle was declared a tie, which Flans claimed had never happened before (liar!). He started the apes chanting again but declared the battle was still a tie. And then complimented us for keeping the aisle between the factions in tact in case of a recount. But then told us it was time for us to rejoin and for the apes to become sleeper cells to arise again on New Year's Eve when the band would return for a special all ape performance.

Flans claimed an early morning radio performance was putting him off his "A game" even though Marty didn't like him to use the words A-game. There followed an amusing stringing together of phrases that are on Marty's "List" of words you aren't allowed to say in the band.

Linnell collected his bass clarinet and Flan told us that it wasn't acquired from our high school but rather from someone on the open market. Linnell chimed in that that person had taken it from our high school. Flans then realized that he had his guitar set on "super-duper" and said he needed to take it off its "all steroid" settings that he had put it on for the ape battle.

In one of my favorite bits of dialogue from the show, Flans asked Marty what the tempo of the song was and then said "Everybody shut up. I've gotta hear Marty."

Linnell started getting especially hammy for the camera during Cloissonné. He encroached into Danny's space at the keyboard with his clarinet until Danny looked at him with a very "what are you doing dude" face. Then, in an act that cracked everyone up, he reached down and took Cindy's camera right out of her hand. He took it over to the keyboard and ran it over the keys while Danny played before returning it to Cindy. The video is on YouTube. It is awesome. And she put the best possible description on it. It just reads "Some dude grabbed my camera in the middle of the song" and that is the only explanation given. You really did have to be there to understand I guess.

TMBG 9/30/11 #10

The arrival of the Avatars was heralded by Crazy Train. Almost immediately after the Avatars appeared on camera, Meg Ryan also put in an appearance but couldn't seem to say anything except "Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Blue Avatar had to ask her to leave. The Avatars thanked JoCo and TMBG for opening for them and then went into their "Dad, tell us about the 60s again?" routine that they did in Asheville. This time the best quote was "If you have to remember, then you weren't there, man." They thanked Epic Fail Baloney Sandwiches for providing stale bread and old baloney. And then Green Avatar serenaded us with the Epic Fail Jingle. Blue Avatar pointed out his soul patch. Meg Ryan tried to make another brief appearance but was backwards. Blue said she was "incognito." The Epic Fail tune snuck in again at the end of Spoiler Alert, this time from Blue Avatar.

Then followed an intense few minutes of Linnell singing directly in front of me, towering over my head while making ridiculous hand motions and microphone tilts. It's not the closest I've ever been but it was close and intimidating.

TMBG 9/30/11 #16

Flans commented on how great it was to be back at the TLA, a venue with "so much awesomeness in one tiny section of town surrounded by so many scary places to get lost." He asked the band to play some incidental music for a minute while he fetched one of the giant posters from backstage, then informed them that what they were playing didn't have the right feel for this portion of the show. He started to talk about the poster but was interrupted but someone in the audience shouting requests. He pulled out the giant flashlight used for dividing the audience in the Ape battles and pointed it at the dude and declared "Remove that man!" Linnell pointed out that he was actually instructing the laser from the flashlight to remove the man and Flans pointed out that the flashlight has three settings, "Light, LASIK and person removal." Flans made a number of jokes about the poster including saying that it turned any missile silo into a showcase and urged us not to make the same mistake that over 15,000 people in the last two weeks had made by not buying a poster. "Admit it, you own a barn. Admit it, it's a little underdecorated." He claimed it was so thick he couldn't speak through it and that the poster cost less than the price of a T-shirt at a more expensive rock concert. He then gave the poster to my friend Heather and told her the gift was sponsored by Epic Fail Baloney Sandwiches.

Linnell spoke about the Venue Songs project and how they were trying to promote it because it was kind of the runt of the litter. He said if they could sell as many copies of venue songs as all of their other projects combined...it would be weird. Flans declared Venue Songs to be the "6-foot poster" of their collection and said they should bundle them together with a boat anchor and sell them off shore. Linnell chimed in, "It's more like an investment...in the bottom of the sea." He also declared Los Angeles to be entirely inappropriate for their current venue as apposed to the earlier appearance of the TLA song.

The band then began a power push to the end of the show, rocking through Fingertips, Judy, Old Pine Box and Ana Ng. Flans stopped for some standard thank yous and encouragements to buy JoCo's merchandise. He started assigning nicknames and dubbed one woman "Tangelo" but then announced that naming would continue later. Then followed some serious accordion in my face. Linnell was catering to the cameras all night, but during Particle Man he stepped out to the front of the stage and stuck the accordion directly in front of me and the couple of people next to me, extending it out to its full length in some shameless pandering. And I loved every second of it.

TMBG 9/30/11 #24

I was so thrilled by my close encounter with the accordion, I was totally caught off guard by the start of the next song, and for the first time in my memory, let out a completely spontaneous yelp of excitement, when they smashed into Subliminal. Linnell actually chuckled at me, I think.

Upon returning for the encore, Flans thanked Chris Smith, who was apparently in the audience, for making all the videos used in the back drops. Flans said they instructed him to make them look "shitty and homemade" and he wisely ignored them. Flans also thanked JoCo again and said that it was with "a heavy heart and a bruised liver" that they said goodbye to him. "There's no recovering from that, ladies and gentlemen." Someone in the crowd yelled "There's always another liver." Flans declared that there was, in fact, not always another liver. "I had to think about what you said for just a moment and I realized, you are a liar. You only get one pair of livers."

I admit, at some point in this encore, I became rather distracted and concerned by the fact that Dan came back for the encore with his fly unzipped. I have no idea if he ever even noticed but I was terribly embarrassed for him. Fortunately, it did not detract from his ability to play an awesome Istanbul solo.

Flans introduced the band with the alternate intro they had been using in this leg of the tour, eliciting some very odd sounds from the boys. Danny played something that remarkably resembled the underground music from Super Mario Brothers. Dan was all ready to do his bit holding his Fender by the neck but Flans never got to him. At first I thought he just forgot, but then I realized it was deliberate as he intended the intro to Istanbul that Dan was about to play to be Dan's moment in the spotlight. And it was an especially good intro I must say.

TMBG 9/30/11 #27
TMBG 9/30/11 #28

Flans invited all of us to clap along with Marty's snare drum on Lie Still, Little Bottle. "It's nice to be back on Eastern Standard time where people understand what a back beat is."

Upside Down Frown was on the setlist for the last song, but Flans announced that they were going to play Doctor Worm instead, by "special request from the drunk guy over there" who had been shouting for it. When it came time for Danny to do his leap, Dan held out his hand to the side at the keyboard, like his was presenting Danny to the audience. And Danny jumped directly forward and so high he nearly cleared the top of the keyboard from our angle on the opposite side of the stage. Still didn't manage a good picture but it was fun to watch and a great way to end the show.

TMBG 9/30/11 #32

After the show, I stopped by the merch desk to get my goodie bag fixed. I had to wait a bit until Anna was done selling stuff to people, and I couldn't decide if the look she gave me was apologetic or "dear god, of all the people to give an incomplete bag to, why did it have to be her?" She was very nice about it though and I got my missing stickers and such without too much trouble.

After reclaiming my car from the parking lot, we were navigating our way through some side streets near the venue to get back to the highway. It was dark and raining and the streets were narrow and crowded with parked cars. I drove up one little street which had a bus parked on the side. I was idly wondering if it was the tour bus and glancing to the side to look at it, when all of a sudden Linnell appeared out of the darkness at the front of the bus leaping off the sidewalk over a puddle. I was extremely startled and briefly thought he was going to jump right in front of my car. But he was just headed for his Subaru parked in front of the bus (and carrying his coat I might add, which made it useless against the rain). Regardless, this went down as "the time I almost hit Linnell with my car" even though I really wasn't anywhere close to it, and there followed some very humorous conversation with Megan about how terribly stricken I would have been had I hit him and how I would not have been able to live with myself. Just one more amusing anecdote for the files. (But seriously though, dude scared the crap out of me!)

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite shows! Thanks for the recap, Kelly!