Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We'll Meet At The End Of The Tour

February 17, 2012 - Rams Head Live - Baltimore, MD

The Rams Head is one of those venues with an early entrance deal. For $10 you can get in to the bar two hours early and be the first ones into the show. The added bonus is that you get to hear the band do soundcheck. We received some misinformation that the passes to be able to do this would be available at the venue at 10am so we all rushed there early in the morning from Charlottesville. Except it turned out they weren't available until hours later. Whoops. At least we had plenty of time to wander around the harbor and get lunch. And I got to see the coolest (at least architecturally speaking) Barnes & Noble I have ever seen. They had a fish tank! Jealous!

I've gotta say, the Rams Head has probably the best system for doing early entry and a line that I have encountered at any venue. As you go into the bar, they give you a little tag with a number on it. And then when you line up to actually enter the venue, they line you up by number. Thus ensuring that everyone can disperse around the bar, buy drinks and enjoy themselves without having any fights about who was there first when it comes to lining up. I wish other venues would learn from this example.

This is quite possibly the only time that the soundcheck has eclipsed the actual show on the coolness factor. Apparently, Flans had not yet shown up when they started soundcheck, so Linnell was just doodling through songs as he pleased with the boys following his lead. This resulted in a soundcheck that consisted of Wearing a Raincoat, Destination Moon, Spiraling Shape and The End of the Tour (plus one of the Join Us songs, once Flans finally arrived...Johnny maybe?). Holy shit. I had never even heard Wearing a Raincoat or Destination Moon live. And I've only ever heard Spiraling Shape and The End of the Tour once each. I was beside myself with excitement. I desperately wish they would incorporate some of these songs into the regular set. Maybe Wearing a Raincoat isn't one of my favorites but the other three are all in my Top 50. Best. Soundcheck. Ever. And I'm pretty sure the band never even knew we were all there to hear it. (We were literally hiding behind a curtain that was drawn between the bar and the main room.)

I think it would have been hard for any show to live up to that soundcheck in my mind, and in my opinion this wasn't one of the best of the trip. Part of that was my own personal experience. I got stuck so far down the end of the stage I was watching from behind Dan's guitar stands. Not a great view. Also not great sound as I was oddly positioned near a speaker.

TMBG 2/17/12 #15

Corn Mo opened this show, since JoCo had had to get home for the cruise. I have seen him a few times now. I know this isn't a popular opinion, but he's not really my favorite. No offense to anyone who does enjoy him or to the man himself. He is definitely a dynamic performer. Just not my style, I guess.

Corn Mo 2/17/12 #3

TMBG setlist: When Will You Die - Celebration - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - Damn Good Times - Never Knew Love - The Guitar - Battle for the Planet of the Apes - Old Pine Box - Cowtown - Snowball in Hell - Mr. Me - Ana Ng - S-E-X-X-Y - Careful What You Pack - Pandor Jingle - Paranoid - Spoiler Alert - Cloisonn√© - Withered Hope - We Live In A Dump - James K. Polk - The Mesopotamians - Fingertips  Encore - How Can I Sing Like A Girl? - Can't Keep Johnny Down  Encore 2 - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Istanbul

I didn't feel like the energy level in the band was as high as it was at the previous shows. But then as Flans said at the start, they had been out doing a long run of shows and were excited about being able to go home. Perhaps like myself, they were experiencing a bit of "end-of-the-tour-itis." But it picked up over the course of the show, with a solid run of really lively songs to kick things off.

Linnell compared the Rams Head to the HBO series Oz. He said he felt like his life was that show, he just needed to see more tattoos in the room and the parallel would be complete. Flans said he was only in the middle of season two and not to spoil it for him.

Flans plugged Join Us and Linnell said if you could find a copy that _wasn't_ signed by them it was worth more. Then then got a little confused introducing Never Knew Love and Linnell suggested that the instructions of what to do next were probably tattooed all over him (keeping with the Oz references).

TMBG 2/17/12 #1

Maybe it was just me, but the division of the crowd and delivery of instructions for the Battle for the Planet of the Apes, seemed to take longer than usual. There was some debate over how to deal with the balcony. In the end, the battle was declared a tie.

The Johns discussed Cowtown being their oldest song. They joked that it was written by the original members of They Might Be Giants. "The ones you liked." But that they had be taught how to play it exactly like them. They claimed they were just one of many touring troupes of the band.

TMBG 2/17/12 #2

Highlights of the Avatar Snowball bridge: Joe getting creeped out by Paul watching him and telling him he was going to slowly walk away, and Paul responding that he was going to watch him walk away. Paul also commented on all of Joe's nice things in his house and said he didn't have things, or even really live anyway. "Seems like you live outside my house, Paul," said Joe. "I don't have a life, Joe." Then Paul suddenly added the "time is money kick line" and startled Joe. Joe proceeded off on this rambling monologue about watching calendar pages fly out the window and eventually said, "Is it mentally ill in here or is it just me?"

TMBG 2/17/12 #6

After Mr. Me, Linnell commented on the fact that the Avatars live in a suitcase and how much that must suck. I would imagine, yes.

The Avatars did their plug for Pandor, but it was rather brief. Just fulfilling their contractual obligations. Then they dropped into stage whispers to talk about the diva trips They Might Be Giants were having back stage, making everyone clear the halls when they walked by because they didn't want anyone to look at them. Blue explained that they were only supposed to perform one TMBG song, but they only really liked the old songs and their real roots were in heavy metal. "It's like a total contradiction." He said one of the things they declared when they formed the Avatars was "no compromising." "And now look, we're traveling the world in a blue suitcase. Opening for a bunch of old, (*bunch of semi-derogitory names I didn't understand, but that implied the Giants were squares*). It fucking sucks." And they broke into Paranoid. Then there was an appearance by the Supreme Court. Green asked them why their heads were all folded over. They said it was because they had taken all the Pandor and began complimenting the Avatars. "By a nine to zero decision, we find you awesome!" The Avatars worked a tiny bit of the Pandor Jingle into the end of Spoiler Alert too.

TMBG 2/17/12 #13

Linnell chose to sit down on the drum riser to play the bass clarinet on Cloisonné. This kind of freaked Flansburgh out because he thought Linnell was sick and he had the crew bring a stool on stage for him to sit on. Except it turned out that Linnell had just forgotten the neck strap for the clarinet back stage and it was easier to play without it while sitting down. (He actually explained later that there were certain notes on the bass clarinet, that when you play them without the neck strap, the clarinet falls to the floor. Flans said this was why the instrument was an endangered species.) But since there was now a stool on stage, Danny took advantage of it later, sitting down to play. Which Dan then teased him about. Heeheehee.

The Johns made some humorous observations about the people filming video in the front row, wondering if they were actually having a good time or recording it so they could have a good time later. Then Linnell also commented on how odd it is when the theater is completely dark expect for a single person's face illuminated by their phone as they text.

TMBG 2/17/12 #11

Linnell to Dan before the guitar solo in Polk: "Dan Miller, you're thoughts?" Then after the solo, "thank you, Dan."

Linnell relayed a story that Dan Levine had told them about playing with Frank Sinatra. Apparently, Frank fell during a show and hit his head, and while he was still lying on the ground, half the orchestra was on their phones already looking for a new job. This story seemed to fall a little flat, and Linnell pointed out that it was a story about the music business, implying perhaps that it was funnier if you were a musician. Flans also told a story about Dan Levine. Apparently, he survived a small plane crash with Ray Charles in Europe. He said that the Rayettes could scream louder than you could ever imagine. "But no one was injured," added Flans.

They once again did the 123 band intro without actually introducing the members of the band. Everyone just took a little solo. The Johns delivered some nicknames to members of the audience. Jo-Jo Dancer, Rolf Dunger and The Decline of the West. This last came after an exclamation from Linnell of such emotion and feeling as the nickname hit him, that it was hard to tell if it was agony or ecstasy. (This actually cracked me up, because it sounded so inappropriate and ridiculous).

When the Johns returned for the first encore, Flansburgh made a terrible attempt at making a Jeremy Lin joke with Linnell's name. Even he admitted it wasn't a good effort. Linnell said they needed to work on it for when they came back "out of the box" in March.

Istanbul featured the customary fake endings but no intro. Time to wrap things up and go home.

TMBG 2/17/12 #9
I really like this picture, not because it is a great picture, because it isn't, but because it has all five of the guys in it, which pretty much never happens in my pictures.

I have to add too, that later, outside the venue, I witnessed Mr. Brunette being chased down the sidewalk by a seriously drunk girl in a TMBG hoodie. Not exactly the type of thing I would expect from a Giants concert, but I was amused.

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