Tuesday, February 12, 2013

30th Anniversary in LA

January 28, 2012 - Royce Hall - Los Angeles, CA - Rock Show

And we are back for round two at Royce Hall on my moderately insane trip to LA. I was please to see Jonathan Coulton again opening the show. I had missed him at the last few gigs. I got rather used to seeing a JoCo show with every TMBG show. I don't remember much about his performance except that he had a lot of fans in the crowd and he did a couple of songs that I hadn't heard in a while or at all on this tour I don't think. Oh, and he had his assistant, Scarface, join him on stage to sing Skullcrusher Mountain which was cute.

JoCo 1/28/12 #1

JoCo setlist: Code Monkey - Sticking It To Myself - I'm Your Moon - Je Suis Rick Springfield - You Ruined Everything - Skullcrusher Mountain - Still Alive - I Feel Fantastic

JoCo 1/28/12 #2

TMBG celebrated what was billed as their 30th Anniversary concert with another Lincoln show. I thought it was a little odd that they didn't make a bigger deal out of the anniversary thing. I think they maybe mentioned it once, if at all. And aside from the Lincoln tracks (and they actually played one fewer than they did at the first Lincoln show at Mohegan, because they skipped Cage and Aquarium) they didn't pull out anything else particularly special for the occasion. But I wasn't too fussed about it. It was still a great show.

TMBG setlist: Mr. Me - Santa's Beard - Pencil Rain - When Will You Die - Celebration - Snowball in Hell - They'll Need A Crane - Purple Toupee - Clap Your Hands - Battle for the Planet Of the Apes - Damn Good Times - Birdhouse In Your Soul - The Mesopotamians - Piece of Dirt - Stand On Your Own Head - Lie Still, Little Bottle - Cloisonné - Paranoid - Pandor Jingle - Shoehorn With Teeth - Marty Beller Mask - Dr. Evil - Kiss Me Son of God - Cowtown - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Ana Ng Encore - How Can I Sing Like A Girl? - Doctor Worm Encore 2 - Istanbul

Flans made a decision to shift some things around in the setlist a few songs in which led to some confusion later about what they were playing. This was the first time I got to see the Avatars perform the bridge to Snowball in Hell. I was not disappointed. It was very funny and super angry.

Despite some technical problems several comments were made about how well the performance was going. I had a somewhat warped perspective on the audio, being blasted out by one speaker that was blaring bass, which meant I couldn't hear some of the other instruments as well. As such, I was a little disappointed with Stand On Your Own Head this time, because I just couldn't hear Dan's awesome guitar part.

Flans commented that they were entering the era of the bass clarinet, after using it in Lie Still, Little Bottle. Linnell added that sadly, the era was ending after the next song (Cloisonné) but would begin again in Tempe the next night.

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I had two favorite moments from this show, that really stuck with me. The first was when Flans sat down on the drum riser at the beginning of Cloisonné, in front of Marty's kit. I was standing right in front of the kit so I had an awesome view. As he was about to start Flans asked Marty if he thought it was a bad idea that Flans counted off the song. Marty said no, it was good. Flans repeated this to the crowd. But in such a way that it almost sounded like he was talking to himself. "You think its a good idea? But what about all the times I count it off too fast?" Marty told him he just changes the tempo immediately. "You just change the tempo immediately? Well, I'm glad we had this conversation. I thought I was fucking up the show." This whole back and forth was particularly funny for me because I could actually hear what Marty was saying, and then hear the way Flans relayed it to the crowd so that it sounded like he was talking to a voice in his head. And the matter of fact way in which Marty informed him that he just fixed the tempo when Flans got it wrong was so funny and so very Marty that I couldn't stop chuckling.

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This show was also the first time I got to see the Avatars perform Paranoid. I particularly liked how the Green Avatar frowned after the lyric about frowning. Very tragic. I also noted that, not only did Meg Ryan make a brief return appearance, post being destroyed in the fire, but that she had been reconstructed on an actual puppet so that her mouth could now open and close. Hard to tell what sort of puppet she is stuck on top of, but my guess would be some sort of frog maybe.

The Avatars informed us of their new corporate gig, shilling for big pharma, though they couldn't tell us which company. Very hush, hush. But the drug they were promoting was called Pandor and it was for performers. "You take it and....well, it just helps." They then demonstrated the effects of the drug by pandering to the crowd, commenting on their beauty and intelligence. "I think this crowd had to put off their SATs to pursue their modeling careers, but when they did go back....BAM 1600s." They then performed the jingle they had written for Pandor, which reminds me quite a bit of Lazyhead and Sleepybones in its use of synonyms. Finally, they performed Shoehorn again and this performance went much more smoothly than the one at the family show.

I should also note that Mark Pender was with them for this performance as well, and added some stellar trumpet to many of the songs. I love horns.

My other favorite moment from this show was when Robin came out and told the crowd that one of her New Year's resolutions was to be a little more evil and then the band broke into the beginning of Dr. Evil. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may have heard me mention my goal to eventually hear all of the songs on the Dial-A-Song compilation live. This was the first TMBG album I had and listened to obsessively as I was getting into the band so its a goal formed around a sentimental love for that collection. But there are a few songs I have always assumed would prevent me from ever achieving this goal and Dr. Evil was one of them. But no more! It took an LA show with Robin and Pender to get there, but there is one more song knocked off the bucket list. And it came as a complete surprise. Sadly, the goal may still not be achievable due to a couple of other rare songs (I'm looking at you Stormy Pinkness and Nightgown of the Sullen Moon) but at least I am one step closer.

The caption on one of my pictures reads "Dan reluctantly joins the band for Cowtown." I had completely forgotten about this and I apologize if I am not remembering correctly now. But I think what happened was that Dan had not returned to the stage after Kiss Me Son of God, and Flans called him out to join them. Dan insisted that he did not play on the song and Flans insisted that he did. They went back and forth on this for some time. I believe some of the confusion came from the fact that Linnell was playing the accordion on the song rather than the clarinet or the keyboard. Dan was finally convinced to play guitar on the song, but very reluctantly. I remember some of the faces Dan was making as they debated whether or not he would play being really entertaining. And he kind of invented a guitar part in order to join them. Some brief research shows that Dan typically played an acoustic guitar part when Linnell played clarinet, and played keyboard when Linnell played accordion at shows after this one, but did not play at all when Linnell played the song on keyboard at Mohegan. So I can see why this was a matter of debate.

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And one last thing to note. Flans instituted fake ending after fake ending after fake ending on Istanbul. "They say we have to go but we don't want to go!" he kept yelling. It was an extremely lively and fun way to finish the show.

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Afterward, I went out to buy a new tour T-shirt at the merch booth and got stuck waiting there for a while because their credit card machine was running very slowly. Forced to make small talk with me, Anna asked if she would be seeing me tomorrow, and I said no, not until Florida. Not sure how to read the reaction I got to that. She also noted to someone else, that in the eight years she has worked for the band, this was the second busiest merch day she had ever seen. So business must have been booming in LA. I hope everyone tipped well.

And thus concludes my trip to LA.

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