Thursday, January 31, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 808

Today's song is...

Lost My Mind

This song hasn't grabbed my attention as much as some of the other Nanobots songs I have heard thus far. It isn't as musically interesting as Call You Mom or Black Ops, as stuck-in-your-brain catchy as Nanobots or Insect Hospital or as just plain odd as Circular Karate Chop. But it does seem to fit into a genre of Linnell songs about being kind of nuts. And it has one of my new favorite lyrics: "It walks the earth/ separated at birth/ terrorizing villages with intelligent remarks." That line just makes me chuckle picturing a brain wandering outside someone's head as it roams the world making intelligent observations. Also, I appreciate that the bridge features a pleasant, if not terribly exciting bass part. Can't wait to see what else this album has to offer us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 807

Today's song is...


Why exactly does one need Dunkin Donuts coffee to get a kid out of a tree? I love climbing trees. But then, I guess not everyone is me. I can't actually find a video of this commercial anywhere anymore, though I remember it pretty vividly. I wish all the DD ads were available in a more reliable place than YouTube.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 806

Today's song is...

The Other Side Of The World

Well this is appropriate, given the announcement of some of the Australia tour dates today. When I first looked at the title, I couldn't remember which this song was. When I started playing it I recognized it immediately as the song that ends one of my TMBG mix CDs that I made very early on in my fandom, but I don't think I ever could have told you what the name of the song was. It makes a very good closer for a collection though.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 805

Today's song is...

Miniature Sidewalk Whirlwind

I really enjoy how Linnell can turn a somewhat mundane event into a funny and pretty little song. Love the simple arrangement with the flute and guitar. And though I am not typically a fan of altered vocals, they fit in fairly well in this case. But mostly I love how completely relatable the sequence of events described in the song are. I close my eyes and I can picture the scenario perfectly. Perfectly, with flute.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Delivering Disappointment Since 1982

October 28, 2011 - Pabst Theatre - Milwaukee, WI

This show was the first of a three show road trip with Gary and our friend Rebecca. Not gonna lie, my primary reason for wanting to go was the opportunity to see the First Avenue venue song live. That may be a foolish reason to drive halfway across the country, but the shows were excellent and I came back with some pretty awesome stories so it was totally worth it.

Here's the first one of those stories. We headed out across the country the day before the Milwaukee show. After stopping to pick up Rebecca, we were continuing through Pennsylvania to a half way point I had selected to stop for the night. It was late at night, dark, and I was driving along I-80, a seemingly endless road with not much to see, especially at night. I was driving in the outer lane and casually noticed there was a large bus in the inner lane. I didn't think much of it. Then I looked closer. "That's funny," I thought. "That looks an awful lot like the band's tour bus." Then I thought, "What if it actually is the tour bus?!" I spend another minute looking at it before I decided I needed to determine if it was pulling a trailer to confirm that it was actually the tour bus. I slowed down a little. It was pulling a trailer. "Um, guys?" I said to my companions. "Tour bus," I said, pointing at the bus. There was some brief incredulousness but it soon became very obvious that it was in fact the band's tour bus. We watched Scott walk past a window, and could see Victor removing something from a cabinet inside.

Needless to say, we kind of freaked out. I mean what are the odds that our two vehicles, coming from different destinations, would end up on the exact same stretch of road at the exact same time?! We got a little silly, attempted to take some pictures (which didn't come out very well). I passed the bus and drove in front of them for a bit. Then the bus passed me and we drove behind them for quite a ways. We discussed whether or not we were freaking out the people on the bus by attempting to photograph their bus. Or whether they were aware of us at all (my car does have a TMBG bumper sticker on the back which may have been a giveaway). Rebecca thought she saw someone look out the window at one point, but we couldn't be sure. Eventually, we reached the exit for our hotel and waved goodbye to the bus as we pulled off the highway. To this day, this remains one of my favorite stories, because of the extreme "what are the odds?" factor. And there is a funny coda to the story if you read through to the end of the recap.

The Milwaukee show was seated so there wasn't a need for hours of line waiting. We collected tickets from will call and hung around on the sidewalk outside for a bit, reuniting with the bus, which was parked on the curb. I believe we attempted to watch the You Probably Get That A Lot music video which had just been released, while we were standing outside. I'm not sure which day it was, but Album Raises New And Troubling Questions was also announced while we were on this trip, and I ordered my copy on my phone from the car.

We had tickets that were for the front rows of the theater, but when they began letting people in, we discovered that the front rows had been removed to create a dance floor at the band's request. Anyone with tickets for those rows had a choice of standing by the stage or sitting in the balcony. We of course chose to stand by the stage, as that would have been our preference anyway. But there were people in line in front of us who were pretty miffed about loosing their front row seats and didn't want to stand. It was a very weird place to be, as nearly everyone else in the theater was seated and there was just us a couple of others standing at the front, totally blocking the few of the early rows. Some more people did eventually join us, but venue staff also came through and checked all our tickets again and people that didn't have the tickets for the removed seats were asked to return to their seats until the show started.

The opening band, Gold Motel, was interesting and entertaining to watch. The music was listenable, though I didn't run out and buy their album, but it was the members of the band that made them an entertaining act. Most notable, was their lead guitarist who had clearly spent a lot of time perfecting his "look." Skinny pants and boots, with a tailored jacket. Very deliberately styled hair. And his mannerisms while he played were so put on. He must have decided at some point, "This is the image I want to give off while I play" and then spent time in front of a mirror perfecting it. Rebecca and I spent a good portion of the weekend imitating him. He was a pretty good guitar player though. The frontman of the band, another guitarist, was nerdier and at one of the shows even cardiganed I think. And their lead singer was a girl with a nice voice and light, easy banter with the frontman. One of the other members was a sub, though I can't remember now if it was the drummer or the bass player. I think it was the drummer. I may be mixing them up with another band, but I think this was the drummer who played barefoot too. And the bass player was by far the most normal looking guy in the band. If I had to put a label on them, I'd say they fit in the hipster category pretty well.

Gold Motel #1

The TMBG setlist: Subliminal - The Famous Polka - Can't Keep Johnny Down - Celebration - Snail Shell - Why Does The Sun Really Shine? - Clap Your Hands - Birdhouse In Your Soul - The Guitar - Ana Ng - Battle For The Planet Of The Apes - Dead - Don't Let's Start - Damn Good Times - You Probably Get That A Lot - Spoiler Alert - Cloisonné - Alphabet of Nations - Particle Man - Careful What You Pack - Withered Hope - The Mesopotamians  Encore - Fingertips - When Will You Die  Encore 2 - Lie Still, Little Bottle - Istanbul

Now here's the fun part. This show was over a year ago and my memories of it are pretty vague. But I wrote notes in my phone to help me write the recap, shortly after the show. Trouble is, they are just quickly jotted words and looking back, I have no memory of what some of them mean. They also aren't in chronological order, but just in the order that I remembered things. So here is what I am going to do. I am going to share my notes with you all. The ones I know, I will expand upon. The ones I don't, I'll include just for entertainment purposes or in case someone else reads it and remembers what I was referring to. Hopefully this will still make for an entertaining, and possibly amusing recap.

Indoors men/baseball
Oh good, at least I get to start with one I know. After briefly discussing the World Series, and then admitting they didn't really follow sports, Linnell declared, "We're indoorsmen. We're two with nature."

Teach you how to clap
At one of the times we were required to clap, Flansburgh criticized our technique and then said "We're not going to teach you how to clap, people. We don't have that kind of time."

Dividing the crowd by individual people
In discussing diving the crowd for the ape battle, they joked about dividing us by individual people rather than groups. I can't quite remember what the full extent of the joke was beyond that.

Dan done with guitars, keyboards, rocking climbing, spelunking, French thing
When Dan moved to the keyboard for You Probably Get That A Lot, Flansburgh declared that he was done with guitars and was moving on to the keyboard. Dan played along by waving his hands at his guitars in a dismissive motion. Flans didn't end it there though, declaring that actually Dan was done with music altogether he was moving on to rock climbing. Then it was spelunking. Then "that French thing." (He meant parkour.) Eventually Dan was just laughing. This is actually one of the things that most stands out in my memory of this show, even without my notes. It was just really funny and random.

Mysterious whisper arms
(Clearly this is the Dan Miller section of my notes) When they started Mysterious Whisper in Fingertips, Dan didn't just raise his arms to sway with the music. He shot them into the air like a little kid desperate to be selected to answer a question the teacher just asked. It was sudden and pretty adorable I thought, as he did it with total seriousness.

Guitar bouncing
The guys always bounce up and down when they are playing The Guitar. It's kind of traditional. But on this occasion, Dan got more into it that I ever remember seeing before. He was pogoing up and down on the stage while playing with such enthusiasm it made me giggle.

Dan stealing Danny's spot
I don't remember what song is was, but at some point while Danny was off in another part of the stage, Dan positioned himself in Danny's usual spot. When Danny tried to return to it, Dan indicated that no, he was going to be standing there now and that Danny should go stand in Dan's usual position. He was just being a goof and giving him a hard time, but it was such a perfect example of the easy camaraderie that is apparent between these two guys that always warms my heart.

Linnell yelling Jon Carter
Linnell was attempting to get John Carter's attention off stage to get him to adjust something and Carter wasn't hearing him. So Linnell's yelled his name from the middle of the stage. It was startling for everyone, because you just don't usually hear Linnell say anything that loudly. He apologized and explained he just needed to get his attention. And I believe Flansburgh teased him about it. 
Clarinet mic not working
This one seems pretty self explanatory, though I don't specifically remember it. I guess the clarinet mic wasn't working. I don't even remember if this was the thing Linnell was trying to signal John Carter about?

"back up"
I have no memory of what this one was. Not a clue

Delivering disappointment
In explaining Why Does the Sun Really Shine? Flansburgh said, "They Might Be Giants: Delivering disappointment since 1982." (Thus the title of this recap :-))

"not faking" guitar
No idea what this one was either.

Polka a TMBG tradition
After playing The Famous Polka, Flans commented about polka being popular in this section of the country and said that polka was a TMBG tradition. I found it an especially funny comment given the history of The Famous Polka in Milwaukee.

Flans mimicking Linnell
I thought I remembered what this was but then I realized I was actually remembering a different show. I was gonna say that Flans was standing on stage with his arms crossed doing an impression of Linnell, but now I am just not sure. Stupid failing memory.

Drum circles 6 hours ago
Occupy TMBG
These next few are all part of the Avatars segment. They began it by saying that they needed to hear us scream because the drum circle left six hours ago and it was day 40 of Occupy They Might Be Giants. (Fortunately, Rebecca videoed this part, so I know what all of these references are.)

Wait in suitcase for equal treatment
"We are just going to wait here in our suitcase until we get equal treatment from the crew."

"We are the 5%"

No arms human dignity
"We don't even have arms. It's about human dignity, people."

Dad 60
"Whoa, video feedback. Dad, tell me what the '60s were like."

Party album for adults with swears
The Avatars claimed to be working on a party album for adults that used all the "dirty words."

Bit torrent theyll never find out
Blue Avatar claimed that he had downloaded the song they were about sing on bit torrent. "They'll never find out."

Counting money cigars with 100s
Green said that TMBG never watched this part of the show. They were downstairs counting their money and lighting cigars with $100 bills.

Drum circles after the show
Blue claimed that drum circles would be forming in the parking lot after the show, keeping with the Occupy TMBG theme.

Everyone will get a turn on keyboard
I believe this was a Cloisonné reference Flans made when it was Danny's turn to play the keyboard. 

Experimenting with being an old man
I have since heard both Johns use this line and I couldn't even begin to tell you which of them it was this time. It might have been Flans when he sat down on the drum riser to sing Cloisonné.

Gwenyth Paltrow "that's how it's done" infectious disease Charlie Daniels country strong
This is pieces of a somewhat stream of consciousness tangent that Linnell went on that I couldn't even begin to relate in full because I could barely follow it at the time. I think Flans made a reference to someone's face falling off, or melting off. Linnell said something along the lines of "Like Gwenyth Paltrow in that movie." Which let to some bizarre back and forth between the Johns when it was clear that Linnell was thinking of Contagion. But Flans didn't know what he was talking about.  And somehow they made the connection to Country Strong which had been out fairly recently. I didn't understand the Charlie Daniels reference at the time and still don't. And I have no memory of how the "that's how it's done" fit into it all. 

This time it's John Linnell on keyboard
Continuing the joke about everyone getting to play the keyboard. 

I'm gonna join you on that one Danny
I can't remember who was joining Danny, or on what. Yet another moment lost in time.

San Fran Spokane drinking during the day
Talking about their upcoming tour dates, Flans mentioned San Francisco and Spokane and then made jokes about those places and claimed the people out there would be drinking during the day. I can't remember the exact joke, but it was something about how different the west coast is from the rest of the country.

Wagner/Beethoven murder suicide
Linnell noted that there were busts displayed high up on the wall to the left and right of the stage. I think they may actually have been Wagner and Beethoven. Linnell decided that the two composers had some sort of murder/suicide pact that had resulted in their heads being mounted on the wall.

Sexy bass clarinet
I don't actually remember this reference but does it really need an explanation?

Borders 15 dollar cd sale
This was a reference to shows the band had once played at Borders and the fact that the chain was now out of business. They were joking about taking advantage of the $15 CD sale at the now defunct store. I can't remember if this was actually the same story or even the same show, but I think Borders may have come up because they were describing the fact that it had been very cold when they played there and they learned that the store had no control over their own thermostat because it was controlled by the headquarters which were once near Milwaukee. I believe Flans also made a joke about books being a dying business that made me sad.

Linnell balconey what are you doing way up there VIP section extremely ip
Linnell suddenly noticed the upper balcony and asked the folks what they were doing way up there. He told them they were in the VIP section and they were extremely IP. If memory serves, this was also pretty late in the show, and Linnell noted that he hadn't noticed them up there.

Well, there we go. That is the end of my notes. Hopefully that was entertaining and not too painful and irritating to read.

And I did promise an amusing coda to my bus story for making it through this recap. After the show, Mr. Brunette come over to hand me my setlist. He started to walk away and then turned back to ask, "We you driving here last night in a silver car?" "Yeah," said I, a bit embarrassed. "We saw you!" he said. "We were like, I think it's that girl with the pigtails." I was both mortified and tickled if those two feelings can co-exist. And thus I was officially christened among the crew as "that girl with the pigtails."

Here are a few of my favorite photos from this show:

TMBG 10/28/11 #8

TMBG 10/28/11 #19

TMBG 10/28/11 #25

TMBG 10/28/11 #28

TMBG 10/28/11 #31

TMBG 10/28/11 #38

TMBG 10/28/11 #34

Linnell took a level of enjoyment from accordion-ing over my head I would believe. He certainly seemed entertained by my reaction :-)

Song of the Day - Day 804

Today's song is...

O We

The toy piano and the pitch shifted vocals make this song so cute. I don't know if that was the effect they were going for, but cute is definitely the word I would use. Makes sense that they used this as a show intro at the last family show I attended. Also, is that a tuba? There should totally be more songs with tuba. Lastly, I totally forgot this video existed and am slightly amazed at how effectively the blinking lights in the buildings compliment the rhythm of the song.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 803

Today's song is...

Rolling O

I remember videos very similar to this, with music very similar to this from old Sesame Street episodes I used to watch as a kid. I feel like this would fit right it. I also love the cow's reaction to the O appearing out of nowhere. "What's that? Oh, just a huge O. I'll go back to eating grass now."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 802

Today's song is...

The Fellowship Of Hell

I have mixed feelings about this song. On the one hand, the lyrics in the second stanza both creep me out and me me go "huh?" On the other hand, I quite like the guitar line near the end before the last of the lyrics. I can see why it didn't make it onto Join Us. But I would be very curious what the inspiration for the song was at all as I find it rather perplexing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 801

Today's song is...

Save Your Life

My favorite part of this song is the accent that Linnell sings it in. That and the original description that accompanied the song, which can be found on the wiki if you want a good giggle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 800

Today's song is...

St. Louis

I admit, I am more excited by the mention of The Pageant in this song, than by the venue song itself, as that is the St. Louis venue I have been to and one of my particular favorites. That being said, I enjoy the use of some of the instruments in this song and the style suits Flansburg's vocals quite well.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 799

Today's song is...

Black Ops

This one is kind of weird. Part of my brain wants to think the lyrics make sense and I know what the song is about. The other part is just going "huh?" But what I don't have any doubts about is the music. The arrangement is interesting, unexpected and really what keeps me going back to listen once more, and then, just one more time. I am very excited by the presence of the bongos (or something bongo-like anyway), as I do have kind of a think for bongos. One of the most interesting things is the decision to leave much of the vocals backed only by percussion. It makes it all the more impactful when the full compliment of instruments do come in. And the tone of those instruments when they appear is perfect for the song. A little creepy, tinged with an electronic edge. Then the moments when the music stops at the end are startling and a little unsettling. Which I think is exactly the point. The analogy to musical chairs, given the content of the song, is chilling.

In short, I don't think this song is going to be one of my favorites, but I'm certainly not going to dismiss it either. And I have very high hopes for the rest of the album, as what turned out to be my favorite Flans songs weren't among the preview tracks on Join Us either.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 798

Today's song is...

The Bloodboat

I am torn between laughing and crying when I listen to this song. The name "Bloodboat" and all the talk of cutlery make me giggle, but at the same time, the ship sinks. It's very sad. Hard to reconcile those things in my head. I usually don't care for songs with a plodding rhythm, just wanting them to hurry the heck up. But in this case the tempo suits the song. I can almost picture old sailors in a bar sitting around a fire with mugs of beer singing this ode to the lost ship. Almost.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No One Knows My Plan - Your Racist Friend

October 1, 2011 - Berklee Performance Center - Boston, MA - N-Z Show

Setlist: She's An Angel - Subliminal - We Live In A Dump - You Probably Get That A Lot - XTC vs Adam Ant - Upside Down Frown - Take Out The Trash - Particle Man - Your Racist Friend - Clap Your Hands - No One Knows My Plan - Battle for the Planet of the Apes - Withered Hope - Spoiler Alert - When Will You Die - Snail Shell - Dallas - Old Pine Box - Turn Around - S-E-X-X-Y - Whistling In The Dark - We're The Replacements  Encore - Doctor Worm - Istanbul  Encore 2 - Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes - Spy

Round 2! Started on the other side of the venue this time but almost the same spot. The band started She's An Angel with a long introduction that included a drum beat totally different from that in the song. I think it totally faked a lot of people out, including me for a little while, but I figured it out well before the song started. Then, yay Subliminal! Just unfortunate that we were still sitting down. Man, seated shows are a bummer (except kids shows, I don't mind those so much).

Flans informed us that the N-Z show was going to be cooler and that he had been practicing his guitar since the last one. He dedicated We Live in a Dump to all the apartment dwellers in the audience.

Flansburgh before You Probably Get That A Lot: "Dan Miller is now approaching the electric keyboard."

Flansburgh before XTC vs Adam Ant: "Reintroducing Mr. Dan Miller on the electric guitar."

After that one Flans claimed that was all the songs they had between N and Z and bid us good night. "We'd like to thank TicketMaster for just wrecking it." Then he joked that everyone was listening to that prolonged intro to She's An Angel and thinking "I've got an 8:15." He said not to worry, they would get us out on time. When the crowd protested he responded with "All right, by request...Blues in G. Taking it sloooow."

Before Take Out To Trash Flans pointed out to Linnell that he needed a cowbell. This of course resulted in cries of "More cowbell!" from the crowd. Than Flans told us the song started with clapping, "slightly above your head, Mick Jagger style." Marty counted us off, but then the crowd started clapping way to slowly. Flans stopped it and said something about Marty being committed to professionalism and told us it wasn't too late to raise the admission cost so we better get it right. After the song Flans said, "Mr. Marty Beller, everyone. There will be no improvising!" (I thought that was pretty funny, I don't know about anyone else.)

This time around Flans warned us that we were one song away from They Might Be Giants national anthem when he was going to ask us all to stand up. So we spent all of Particle Man poised to spring out of our seats. Only to realize that Flans lied and Your Racist Friend was also before Clap Your Hands as well. Typical :-)

Then we actually got to stand up and clap and stomp, etc, etc. I was kind of wedged in at the end of the stage but it was a pretty good cross stage view never the less. Thank goodness we were standing for No One Knows My Plan. That is definitely a standing song.

Flans gave us instructions for the ape battle. Thank goodness, this time the security gave us no trouble and we were able to battle in peace. Thanks to the fact that I was now on the ape side, I won again!

Excellent rendition of Withered Hope with Curt joining in. Love that song.

After a string of repeated jokes and a lack of fresh material, here are some of my favorite quotes from this Avatar appearance.

Blue Avatar: "Man, this Ethiopian food is slowing me down."

Green Avatar: "I feel really weird. Like I'm made out of yarn or something."

Blue Avatar: "What happened to my ears."

And then later..

Blue Avatar: "I've got a bug on my eye."

Then Flans' hand appeared and attempted to remove said bug from the Avatar's eye, while the Avatar was still facing the camera. It was entirely unsuccessful and completely hilarious. I actually don't know if it was really a big or just a piece of black fuzz or just a gap in the yarn, but regardless, he couldn't get it off and it was still there the next time I saw the puppets a month later.

Blue Avatar: *in response to the bug* "Anybody else here live in a suitcase?"

Green Avatar: "Not nice."

The Avatars claimed to have stolen They Might Be Giants band away with their cash from their corporate sponsorships from Super Sucker Baloney Sandwiches. Which also made an appearance at the end of Spoiler Alert. "Fresh every couple of days!"

Linnell claimed that people on iTunes buy When Will You Die just because they like the title. If that is true, I wonder how they like the song?

Snail Shell was probably the most surprising song I heard at this show. It was one I had only heard twice before and not for several years. It's also one I forget exists a lot so I wasn't thinking of it when I was thinking of "S" songs. But it sounds good live.

Dallas was almost completely in tune. That may not sound so impressive but I have seen some performances of it that were painful. I think the band acknowledged that when Linnell said afterward, "Making it look hard" and Flans said he wished the song were a little shorter.

After Old Pine Box, Flans claimed that all of their rebellious songs were on the N-Z side of their catalog. Then he made some cracks about Curt driving to Boston from Connecticut and how if you weren't careful, they would catch you at the border of Massachusetts and send you home.

They played through Turn Around, S-E-X-X-Y and Whistling in the Dark. Flans started his thank you by saying "What can I say but tax the rich and jail the crooks." Flans pointed out that this was the end of the first leg of the their tour which had four legs. "It's like a dog!" said Linnell. Flans agreed that it was like a dog, itching and scratching and it really wanted to go home. He gave a shout out to all of the crew with a particular thanks to David for putting the light show together at the last minute. He encouraged everyone to buy T-shirts to fund their fossil fuel consumption and then they launched into We're The Replacements.

Probably the best story from this show, occurred during Doctor Worm in the first encore. During the "solo" when Flans and Danny went to the front of the stage to play, someone in the crowd reached up their umbrella from the crowd and hooked it over the neck of Flans' guitar. Flans yanked it out of the person's hand and then preceded to open it on stage and promenade with it back and forth across the back of the stage, before tossing it aside and resuming playing the guitar. But for me, the most remarkable thing about it was that I missed it entirely. Seriously. I was completely oblivious to it until after it had happened and I was trying to figure out what everyone was laughing at. I was all caught up in making sure I had the camera ready to make another attempt at photographing Danny's leap. My companions were incredulous that I could be so oblivious, but I have gone back and watched video of it, and I didn't see a second of it with my own eyes. Talk about being distracted and missing the best part. Sheesh. At least I didn't miss them performing Istanbul. I was paying attention that much.

Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes was another one I know a lot of my friends were very excited about. I might have been had I not been to all the other shows that week where it was performed. Pretty sure that was a hold over from the "damn, what songs can we play without Dan" run.

And finally Spy, complete with both Johns conducting the band and the audience. A humorous and lively way to end leg one of the tour.

Danny came out after the show and passed out Flans' guitar picks to a bunch of us in the front row. Flans must order those things by the case load. I might be confusing this show with another one, but I think this was the show where Victor had tried to give Mr. Brunette instructions about making sure he gave me a setlist but he kind of bungled it and Victor had to come out and do it himself. Or he thought he had bungled it, but he had actually set one aside for me. I am not sure, my memory on it is vague. But there was some minor amount of comedy involved.

And then back home it was. A month of bouncing back and forth between the tour and work at its end. But one more trip to still look forward to before the year was out.

Alphabet of Nations - The Mesopotamians

October 1, 2011 - Berklee Performance Center - Boston, MA - A-M Show

Looking back at the reviews on the wiki of the two Boston shows, it seems a lot of people were unhappy about a lot of things. Most notably the seats given to the IFC members. Personally, my seating issues were entirely due to TicketMaster. I got screwed by their "Pick Your Seats" option when the tickets went on sale and though I wasn't all that far from the front, I was on the side aisle for both shows about five or six rows back. And since at both shows, Flans waited until about half way through before asking everyone to fill the aisles, sitting down put a bit of a damper on the mood.

For me though, the larger disappointment was in the setlist and setting my expectations too high. We had all done a lot of speculating before the shows about what songs might be rolled out for these special A-M and N-Z performances and whether or not there would even be a song for each letter. (For those unfamiliar with the setup, the band played two shows. The first was to contain songs beginning with the letters A-M and the second N-Z). I was looking forward to the opportunity to hear some rare songs that I hadn't heard before which doesn't happen for me very often anymore. Fact was, I set the bar too high and was disappointed that not only did they not play a song for each letter, I didn't hear a single thing I hadn't heard before at some point. It is entirely my own fault, as they played some relatively rare things (more so at the second show) that the people I was with were very excited about. But I think this may have been the point at which I realized that I had been to so many shows that they couldn't really surprise me anymore. It was kind of a good wake up call for me to reset my expectations and in retrospect I think it may have helped me appreciate some of the shows I have seen since a little more.

Since so many of my crew were all traveling up to Boston from the Philadelphia show the previous night in separate cars, we convened in the afternoon at the food court at the Prudential Center. Gary and I were late because we got stuck in some nasty traffic on 95 which was accident related as I recall. I was grabbing the final signatures for Dan's birthday card that I had been working on all week, from a few friends who joined us in Boston. I have vivid memories of sitting at our food court banquet table we created by shoving about six tables together, and attempting to draw a guitar on the envelope for the card with one of my friend Skye's gel pens and having it come out rather badly. It's the thought that counts though right?

Thanks to the assigned seats, there was no need to wait in line for hours for this show and we spent a fairly minimal amount of time standing around outside. I remember Curt Ramm walking past us and raising my hand to wave before I realized that he did not know who I was even though I knew him. Awkward.

Inside, the show was late in starting. I can't remember now if I ever knew why. But I remember thinking it put a real crunch on the turn around time between shows. The back to back shows also meant no opener so no one to entertain us while we waited. As the show started, we were poised on the edge of our seats to sprint down to the stage when Flans asked us to stand up, but the moment never came and I eventually had to try to relax back into my chair.

The setlist: Alphabet of Nations - Celebration - Ana Ng - Fingertips - Drink! - Los Angeles - Asbury Park - The Mesopotamians - When Will You Die - Cloisonné - In The Middle - Spoiler Alert - Clap Your Hands - Doctor Worm - Battle For The Planet of the Apes - Can't Keep Johnny Down - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - Canajoharie - Istanbul  Encore - Careful What You Pack - The Guitar  Encore 2 - Birdhouse In Your Soul  Encore 3 - Damn Good Times

The Alphabet of Nations introduction was drawn out and a little creepier than usual (and thus more comical in my mind). After the song, the Johns greeted us and Flans explained the concept of what they were doing with the two shows. He said there would be a small amount of cheating, "strictly for our amusement." Flans then explained that right before the show his primary guitar had "hit the deck" and he needed to check and make sure the current one worked. Linnell quipped that he was surprised we hadn't heard it as it had made a really loud noise. Flans also said that when putting the show together they were surprised to see how many of their songs began with the letters A-M.

I have probably noted this before, but listening to Celebration while sitting down and not being able to dance is kind of a bummer. It is the kind of song you just need to be standing up for.

The band played straight through Ana Ng and Fingertips. Prior to Drink! Flans gave the start line about  "we have a brand new album out" but then said the next song was not on it and commented on how weird it was to be saying that. He said if record stores still existed he was sure they would be carrying it and that it was a difficult time for artists and for audiences. Because it was the quiet part between songs and nobody knows quite what to do, especially because we were in a "beautifully, acoustically designed, brutalist, modernist theater." "It's so beautiful it doesn't even need us."

Flans gave us instructions for Drink! that included a debate on whether we were to say the "word" drink, drink or the "words" drink, drink. After asking if anyone in the audience had a smart phone so they could find out the right answer, Linnell decided it was "words". After the song, Flans declared "that was some fantastic, slightly emotionally unavailable chatting you guys did." Linnell added that they were "just going to bitch about the audience for the whole show."

Linnell introduced Venue Songs by saying, "We have this record that's like the worst selling thing in our catalog. So we're trying to kick it up by doin' songs from it and talkin' about it and using apostrophes at the ends of gerunds. If you know what I'm talking about." It's a joke that I think I only just got. Flans said failure was like a magnet to them. Linnell went on to introduce the title of the album and Flans added that it was now available for download on bit torrent. Linnell said he thought that all the songs from it were available to watch for free on their website and that that was probably why no one buys the album. Flans explained that they were trying to lure people in by streaming videos that "enhance the musical experience and leave nothing more to be desired." Linnell added that that was their new business model which got a pretty good laugh out of the crowd.

Flansburgh commented on Los Angeles "show business insiders really love that song." Then followed a lengthly description of the show they had played at Asbury Park with a giant 30 gallon trash can in the middle of the stage catching rain water. They agreed it was an affect that would be really expensive to achieve if you wanted to have it as part of your show so they were really lucky.

They played another banter free run from Asbury Park through When Will You Die. Someone in the crowd pointed out after that last song that it started with a "W" which Linnell acknowledged. It was attributed to the "cheating" they had warned us about.

Flansburgh explained when introducing Cloisonné that he can normally say that "the bass clarinet" are three words he can usually say with confidence will never be heard again in the venues they are playing in because they normally play in "shit holes." But he was was forced to admit that the bass clarinet was probably at home in this venue and that there had probably been one there yesterday and would be even more tomorrow. "We should have brought more of them!"

The Avatars of They welcome multiple special guests. First Meg Ryan made an appearance and complained about how much she disliked They Might Be Giants. Blue Avatar had to shush her. Then they introduced Curt Ramm on the trumpet. Green asked that a spotlight be shown on Curt but it didn't happen immediately. "No? okay." Then the spotlight showed up creating an amusing too little too late scenario. Blue said they had to take out an additional insurance policy in case Curt blew the roof off the venue. "This guy is amazing. A-ma-zing," he whispered. Then Blue loudly declared that the next song was Spoiler Alert before they launched into.... In the Middle, In the Middle In the Middle? Whoops!

Flans stopped the band from launching right into the Avatars exit music to do an Epic Fail Baloney Sandwiches commercial break, in honor of Blue's setlist screwup. Then Blue said they were going to play Spoiler Alert anyway. Over on the other side of the stage Danny was hurriedly trying to explain to Curt what was going on. It was a pretty entertaining screw up.

Finally, Flans invited the audience to flood the aisles for the "spontaneous dance contest" during Clap Your Hands. There were record prizes including ones by Donna Summer and Ted Nugent. Thanks to fast feet I snagged a spot on the left side of the stage in front of the drums. The dance contest continued right into Doctor Worm. I was positioned in a perfect spot to make another attempt at getting a photo of Danny's leap but as usual didn't time it right. Which was more awkward when he turned to me after the show and mouthed "Did you get the picture?" while miming holding a camera. "I tried!" was all I could say. But it is nice to know it is a joint effort.

Flans pulled out his flashlight to divide the audience for Battle of the Planet of the Apes. At this point I got very distracted as the venue security chose that moment to try to get all of us standing by the stage and in the aisles to return to our seats. I think we pretty much looked at them like they were nuts. It was like they had no concept of what was going on in the show. I think we, as a crowd, made a collective decision to ignore them. If memory serves they tried once more before giving up. But it sure put a damper on my show experience. Wait through most of the show to get to stand up and rock out and then have venue security basically ruin the most audience participation dependent portion of the show. Way to go Berklee. *angry face*

The people won the battle. Flansburgh discussed organizing chicken fights during the shows next. There was a humorous line from Linnell about how the band's history would read "they used to play music but now they just host chicken fights".

There was a Join Us block of Johnny, Judy and Canajoharie, though they paused to award the vinyl to the dance contest winners, before that last one. Flans held back the Donna Summer album (which was apparently a collaboration with Barbra Streisand) to see if any dancers really "took it to the next level" before the end of the show because Barbra and Donna "certainly did".

Curt did an impressive introduction to Istanbul, but the song featured zero fake endings. I imagine they were just pressed for time but I've gotten so used to it going on and on, that it seemed abrupt.

They went straight into Careful What You Pack from the encore break. Then Flans commented that they had forgotten to tell Curt that they had a new way of doing the band introductions. He told Curt to just follow along and he would know what to do when they called him. It was a pretty shortened version of the cacophony that was the standard band intro on this run. Flans said afterward that yes, that was what all of their rehearsals sounded like.

The Guitar. Never going to not enjoy hearing that song live. Lie Still Little Bottle was on the setlist for the second encore but they skipped it and just played Birdhouse. I was sure that would be it, what with the need to clear the room and give the guys a break before round two. But I was wrong. They came back and did Damn Good Times too as an extra bonus third encore. Definitely left the crowd dancing.

Afterward I think there was some sort of nonsense with someone jumping on the stage to steal a setlist. I don't remember the specifics, except that it meant that the remaining ones weren't passed out and the crowd was discouraged from approaching the stage by a security person standing at the front. Not to disrupt my setlist streak, Victor sent Mr. Brunette out to the front of the stage with a setlist to hand off to me surreptitiously. I felt like a spy receiving secret documents. I sent him back with Dan's birthday card in hand and felt an enormous amount of relieve to finally have the thing out of my hands.

To be honest, I don't actually know if Dan ever got the card. He sent me a message thanking me for birthday greetings I sent, a few days later and told me that he hadn't received it but that he knew where it was and would retrieve it later. And that was the last I heard of it. I'd certainly like to think it eventually made its way to him, not just because of the work I put into it, but because of all the wonderful messages people wrote in it.

Stay tuned for part two...

Song of the Day - Day 797

Today's song is...

Too +3 R One

Well this is timely given the recent discussion of this song that happened on Tumblr and the wiki. The guys make a pretty good boy band if you ask me. OK, yes, the rapping is silly. The whole song is silly. But I think that is the point and I think they captured the feel of the type of song they were parodying well. And their voices harmonize so well together that they actually aren't that badly suited to this song style. Not saying I'd want them to do it all the time, but this is still fun.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 796

Today's song is...

Pandor Jingle

"Pandor, it's more than a drug. Pandor, but still it's a drug"

Perhaps this is just my impression of the situation, but I feel like the whole Pandor thing is an example of a joke that didn't actually go over that well at first. But the guys liked it so much they kept running with it until it actually became a funnier joke than it originally started as. Maybe this is something that was more evident having seen the joke develop over time? I'm not sure. But I do feel like the audiences went from a more "huh?" attitude about it to a "haha good joke" attitude over time.

I've always thought the song was a pretty cute and clever little ditty. Not quite the personal connection to it that its predecessor, Epic Fail Baloney Sandwiches, had, but those puppets have a way of making a whole lot of stuff pretty funny. And let me tell you, having someone text "sing" the song to you when you are depressed late at night on Valentine's Day is a pretty good pick me up.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 795

Today's song is...

Factory Showroom

I can't decide if this song has more '60s flare or '70s. I am bad at placing genres of music like that. But it is definitely a retro vibe. I feel like it could just as easily be about Andy Warhol's Factory as an album by TMBG.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 794

Today's song is...

Everybody To The Limit

In addition to questioning whether this counts as a TMBG song (it probably doesn't but whatever), I definitely feel like I am missing something in the way of explanation. I am not going to stress myself out about it though.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 793

Today's song is...

Insect Hospital

"Cause we are like literally, literally, literally, literally, literally, literally, literally..."

Rarely is a song so tailor made to get stuck in one's head like this one. This was lodged in my brain for days after the New Year's shows. Of the new songs the band played at those shows, this is probably the one I am most curious about. I really want to know how it fits into the album and if the instrumental riffing the Dans and Marty did at the end are actually part of the song or just added live as filler while the Johns donned the puppets. Because, honestly, the instrumental section was my favorite part. We'll see in just 48 days!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 792

Today's song is...


I know there is a studio version of this but I have only heard the live version. I wonder if there is any difference. It's a nice instrumental. I particularly like the drum and keyboard parts. It sounds very sneaky, if that makes any sense.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 791

Today's song is...

What's Up Blood?

Has anyone even heard this song? Do we know what it is? Is it any good? Somebody go Netflix this movie and find out.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 790

Today's song is...

Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love

This is one of my forgotten favorites. A song I really love but often forget about when I am thinking about my favorites. I adore the rhythm track on this song. I am sure it is 100% manufactured but I love it just the same. With the harmonies of the Johns voices it makes a really beautiful song.

This is also one of my favorite songs to watch Marty play live. It's like watching a dance. He does this fascinating thing where he spots the cowbell before he needs to hit it. Looks forwards, plays the first few notes, continues playing the next couple while his head turns to focus on the cowbell, then turns to hit the four notes on the bell. It is mesmerizing to watch. I actually took a video of it at one of the New Year's shows but I haven't gotten it off my phone yet.

But, man, what a good song.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 789

Today's song is...

Choo Choo Express

I remember being so irritated when the Choo Choo Express special was originally on and I had recorded it because I had to work. I stayed up late to watch it when I got home only to discover that the recording had cut off the song which was the only reason I had watched. So frustrating!

This song is pretty horn-tastic. It can't claim any real lyrical brilliance but it certainly has a fun and lively arrangement. And it was well suited to the special as I recall. At the end of the day, I still prefer Hot Dog though.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 788

Today's song is...


I haven't seen the movie Recess: School's Out, but I have a hard time imagining this song fitting into the soundtrack of a cartoon. Seems a little dark for kids. It's a bit slow for my taste too, but I can see how it was intended for the film.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 787

Today's song is...

Don't Know Why It Takes That Long

I hadn't even heard this song before looking at the lyrics and I could already hear the tune in my head. The flow of words just implies the tune I guess. It would be kind of cool to have an album someday with theses little filler songs tucked in between other things so you felt like you were back in the good old days.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 786

Today's song is...

Crystal Fortress

I am not a Homestar person. Not that I don't like it, I just haven't seen enough of it to really get it. But I can still appreciate how flippin' funny this song is. As much as I enjoy the screaming french fry sections, I think my favorite part is after the second verse starts, when Strong Bad is all "ugh, I thought you were done." I can relate to that feeling when listening to a bad song. Also, "I'm gonna throw a brick at your cellist" has never, ever not made me laugh out loud.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 785

Today's song is...

Tiny Doctors

Adorable song is adorable. It's practically begging for a companion video to The Bloodmobile, with little doctors fighting diseases inside a human body. So sad this song never got developed into something more fleshed out. Also, I love the dog barking at the end of the recording.

Incidentally, this was a song I heard people talking about long before I ever heard it. When I was a little newbie fan, this seemed like one of the songs that separated the long time fans who knew everything, from people like me. One of the ones where you couldn't hear it until you made connections in the fandom and someone finally opened a door to you that held all sorts of wonderful treasures like this behind it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 784

Today's song is...


This band intro song hasn't even found its way to having its own page on the wiki yet. But since Flansburgh declared it to be called 1-2-3 at the show last week, and I have certainly heard it enough times that I feel it counts as a legit song, I am including it on my list.

I was traveling alone when then band started using this tune and it took me a while to get the timing right on the clapping. I had to count the beats for a while, but they kept messing me up by changing how many there were. Some nights there would be five, some nights seven, I couldn't keep track. It seems to have finally settled into a rhythm that I can follow now. But I feel guilty every time I stop clapping to take a photo.

Also, I should note how much I enjoy the way Linnell demonstrates the rhythm to the audience. He walks to the edge of the stage, holds his arms out straight in front of him and claps like he can't bend his elbows. Then moves to a different part of the audience and repeats. I find it extremely endearing.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 783

Today's song is...


Poor, sad penguin. Lonely. Nowhere to park. Sad, out of tune guitar solo.

Remember how exciting it was to finally here this song? I miss those podcasts. The ones that made you go oh WOW!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 782

Today's song is...

I Hear The Wind Blow

There is something kind of cute about this Fingertips song. The bouncy little rhythm, the talking wind, the bass clarinet. It's all very cozy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 781

Today's song is...

Tender Is The Mind

The first thing I think when I watch this Quick Cam video is that Linnell really needs to shave. I actually enjoy the song quite a bit too. It's short and entertaining. But it's the visuals in the video that stick with me. Even in these early days of internet video, the Johns knew how to mug for the camera.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 780

Today's song is...

You Don't Like Me

There are so many possibilities to explore when trying to explain what is going on it this song. I personally choose to believe that the narrator is a bit crazy and has just decided that some random stranger doesn't like him. And in his mind he believes he does know the other person. It's also possible that he has become somewhat obsessed with this person he believes doesn't like him and has determined that they really do like all the random things the song lists. Regardless, I feel like the fact that is narrator isn't liked is all in his own head. How's that for song interpretation from a person who doesn't generally enjoy interpreting songs?

This song also holds the distinction of being one of three songs that I have heard performed live at a soundcheck but never actually seen live at a show. And of the three, it is the only one that has actually never _been_ performed live at a show. I've always wondered why. I guess they just didn't like the way it was sounding.

There are two things on the recording of this one that fascinate me. The first is what sounds like an errant bass note right after the word "obvious" at the beginning of the song. I've always been curious if it was intentional or just snuck in there and nobody noticed. The other is the trio of drum beats that recur right before the lines "Like its in the past" and "You don't like me" just about a minute into the song. It seems like they should also be present at the end when those lines are repeated, but they aren't. That seems like a deliberate decision and it is one I find really interesting.

I have always found this to be an odd choice to end Join Us with. The way the song, and the album, end on the lyric "William Tell" feels a little uncomfortable and unfinished. But I have grown to love it and appreciate it as a quirk of the album.

And lastly, the line "I'd be told to let it go and that I care to much/But this is not about me/And you don't want to know" is one of my favorites. It is one of the sort that occasionally strikes a little too deep and pointedly, but I love it anyway.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 779

Today's song is...


In a slight act of desperation to get my remaining available songs to last through March 5, so I can keep this project going straight through the Nanobots songs without interruption, I have randomly interspersed the songs from the new album that were premiered at the shows this past weekend into my list. Thus today's song is the title track from the upcoming album. Of the songs I have heard so far, this is my second favorite. It is the one that has legitimately been stuck in my head since I heard it. It is delightfully nerdy, extremely catchy, and has just the right, slight, element of creepy. I hope someday, I can get the line "wind the nanobots up" unstuck from my head. Either that or learn the rest of the words so that isn't the only bit cycling over and over in my brain. I greatly enjoyed the sound effect Flans used for the backing vocals at the shows. And I am very curious to hear the album recording to see how it compares. But I am pretty confident this is going to be one of my favorite songs on the album no matter what.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 778

Today's song is...

D & W

This was, believe it or not, one of the first TMBG songs I knew, from a mix CD that Gary made probably eight years ago now. I don't think I knew immediately that is was a TMBG song, and it was a long time before I knew that it was a song intended for children. Looking back, it is such an odd song to hear before so many others. (Consider...I knew this before I knew Birdhouse, Ana Ng, even Particle Man!) And honestly, the song still perplexes me a little.