Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

March 22, 2013 - The Paramount - Huntington, NY

Last stop of the trip and finally got the majority of my crew assembled all in one place. We made the assumption that Huntington would follow typical NY area patterns and require very early line up to beat the crowds. We seem to have over estimated a bit though, as pretty much no one besides us showed up for most of the time we waited. But it gave us plenty of time to get cupcakes and crepes and hot chocolate with gelato in it from the local shops. Huntington definitely doesn't skimp on the quality eating establishments. The venue also kept us entertained with a playlist of TMBG songs piped out under their marque. Sure, it would have been nice if they weren't the same eight songs on random repeat for all seven hours we were there, but it was still nice to have something to listen to.

There was some confusion about the time the doors opened. We were originally told 7 but it turned out to be 8. Which meant we were all lined up to watch the arrival of the 30 or so teenage girls in extremely short skirts, ridiculously high heels and way too much make-up. We were a bit perplexed since they definitely didn't look like typical TMBG fans. But we were told they were all there for a Sweet Sixteen birthday party. The oddest part was that they were all seated in the balcony inside the venue when we got in and most of them only seemed to stay for the opening act. I don't know if the party was just booked regardless of who was playing at the venue, or they really were only there for the opener, but it was really odd. Maybe there was another room where the rest of them were hanging out? It definitely added an interesting flavor to the night.

The Paramount was another of those venues with the super tall stages. Not quite as high as The Pageant, but high enough to make me feel like I had shrunk when standing next to it. Apparently, the fans of Long Island aren't too concerned about arriving early, as the room was barely occupied when we first went in, but it did eventually fill up. Unfortunately, the additional crowd also brought yet another drunk fan (or a pair of them really) to the front, who got the TMBG set off to the wrong start by spilling a full beer all over the stage and floor where we were standing. Why do these people keep ending up where I'm standing? Am I like a drunk magnet or something?

The Moon Hooch guys totally threw me off tonight by switching sides of the stage. Not sure why. Maybe they were just looking for a change of pace, or maybe there was more room on one side than the other for horns. Who knows. But it meant Mike was in front of me, even though I was on the left side of the stage. Her entertained Becky with a personal sax performance, down on his knees on the edge of the stage in front of her. One of the things I appreciate about these guys is that they are really dynamic performers, not just standing in one spot to play their instruments. They move around the stage, interact with each other and the audience. It makes the show even more entertaining.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - James K. Polk - Memo to Human Resources - Don't Let's Start - Call You Mom - Cloisonné - Puppet Head - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Drink! - The Guitar - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Nanobots - Withered Hope - Dr. Evil - Can't Keep Johnny Down - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Battle for the Planet of the Apes - Why Does The Sun Shine? - When Will You Die - Damn Good Times Encore - The Mesopotamians - New York City - Ana Ng Encore - Tesla - Istanbul

After Polk, Flans gave a shout out to the 1% in the balcony and asked them how the hors d'oeuvres were up in their rarified air. He also mentioned how much they enjoyed playing venues with recently installed steel stairs and fire exits.

I was very excited to hear Don't Let's Start in the set, if only because it was something I hadn't heard yet this tour. I always expect a certain amount of repetition when I follow a tour but I was surprised at how little they changed things up on this run.

Marty turned in another whopper performance of Call You Mom and I had organized most of the front row to bow down to him in praise when he finished. Sadly, I don't think he even noticed.

Introducing Danny on the keyboard, Flans teased him about his five minute commute to this show.

Danny really outdid himself on the Doctor Worm leap this time, executing a flying split legged vault that cleared Marty's head and was beautifully back lit by a well timed strobe flash that looked epic, but was less than ideal for most of the photo attempts.

Rebecca got the Famous Polka guitar playing honors this time. It's nice to be home again where my friends fill up the front row and get picked to show off their skills :-)

Flans split up the Drink! call backs between the balcony and the floor and personally, I think the results were a bit disastrous. We just couldn't get the timing right on the floor. Flans still said it was great after the song, but I think he was just being nice. I'd call it a humorously bad attempt.

Flans gave both Danny and Marty a solo during The Guitar, since they are both local Long Island natives.

The Avatars asked us to scream. But then said they couldn't hear us because they have no ears. "All we hear is silence. Beautiful, peaceful silence. And all we see is '70s style cable television. Channel J. Beautiful, late-night cable television." Blue talked about their collaboration with Sir Axel Rose again. He said they were only one verse into their song because he is a perfectionist. And that they had one syllable of the second verse done and all he could say was that it was awesome. They claimed that He's Loco is the B-side that Axel let them have on their single.

The end of the Avatar set led straight into the Nanobots intro. The Johns had a brief discussion about how much He's Loco sounds like Emotional Rescue. "I feel like rock ended with Emotional Rescue," said Flans (already in robot voice). "And something beautiful started," said Linnell.

Linnell: "Hey, I've got a question for you....Robot Flansburgh."

Flans: "What's the question, John?"

Linnell: "I think you know what the question is."

Flans: "No, nothing's changed. No, John. I've always talked this way. It's the vocal nodes."

Linnell: "Three weeks on the road. This is what happens."

Flans: "Two weeks ago, the band and the crew of They Might Be Giants had a conclave. You might not have heard about bands having conclaves. But everybody went into the back lounge of our tour bus and discussed who would become Pope Robot the First. It was a long discussion. Some people thought Pope Robot the First should come from the crew, to bring more diversity. But ultimately, when the white smoke emerged from the back lounge, it was decided that I would become Pope Robot the First. I named myself Pope Robot the First after Pope Robot Zero. We'd like to dedicate this next song to Pope Robot Zero. It's off our brand new album Nanobots. Laaa. That's my first note. I like to sing it pretty. Very, very pretty. Hit it, Marty!"

Robin joined the band again for Dr. Evil, once again without introduction. I think she actually got a full fledged version of The Theme from Dallas to play her off this time though.

This was a very emotional performance of Birdhouse for me, as it coincided with the final Song of the Day post for that very song. Needless to say, I danced pretty hard. Also, I have consistently forgotten to mention this, and I can't be sure they even did it in Huntington, but for quite a few of these last shows, when it came to the guitar solo, Flans and Dan would stand side by side with their guitars facing each other and bend down so that the necks faced the crowd. Then as they started the solo they would rush to the front of the stage raising their guitars as they went to present themselves to the crowd. It was adorable and awesome every single time.

For the first time in about a week, we got to battle people versus apes again. Flans delivered some friendly teasing to a woman in the balcony who did not get out of the way of his flashlight in a timely fashion. He also once again failed to deliver the all important instruction that the people should not chant while the apes were chanting and vice versa. Which led to Danny having to shush the people from the stage when the apes started and then count us off when to start chanting again. Despite this oversight, the people still one. Go team!

Tonight's 123 Band Intro included Linnell doing some combo vocal/Kaoss Pad effects, Dan playing his guitar with only chords and the toggle switch, and Marty "demonstrating why we don't need stage security" with another semi-threatening drum-cam pose.

Have I mentioned yet, that Flans has started shouting something new at the end of When Will You Die? Cause he has. I just can't figure out what it is. Sounds like "Shhhhhh-a" but I am sure it's an actual word.

They took what seemed like an extra long break before the encores. Maybe that was just me. I know I've said it before, but love hearing New York City played in/near New York City. The crowd just gets so excited.

The final Istanbul was bouncy and energetic and everything that said the boys were very, very glad to be home.

Very nearly got crushed in the rush to get stickers from Flans. People are animals when it comes to getting free stuff. We stuck around the front to help a little girl get a drumstick from Marty (success!) and I picked up my setlist, despite a crush of hands reaching for it. We really are getting exceptionally good at that game. The setlist is a rather entertaining one. It has a little cartoon drawing of a pile of skulls on it that is labeled "Long Island Satanic Cult." I'll get it scanned with the others eventually.

Afterward, I got Marty to sign my Nanobots CD with his snazzy red Sharpie. "You good?" he asked me. In my head I'm thinking, well, the tour is over, I'm sick, I've gotta drive home and go back to work tomorrow. But we get to do it all again in only 10 days, with an even longer run for me, and the first show is in my town, on my birthday. So yeah, Marty. I'm good :-)

Pictures from the show are here:

Thursday, March 28, 2013


March 21, 2013 - Tarrytown Music Hall - Tarrytown, NY

I have fond memories of my last visit to Tarrytown for a show in 2009. And it was also nice to finally be close enough to home base to have most of my crew join me at the show again. The fact that this was a seated show meant there wasn't a need to stand in line for hours on end, but it worked out well for me since Pittsburgh to Tarrytown was pretty much my longest between-shows drive of the trip. I still got there several hours early and was intending to go sit in a coffee shop and work on getting caught up on recaps. I ran into Mike and the sound guy from Moon Hooch on my way into the coffee shop and had a nice chat. I recommended the Chinese food restaurant next to the venue for their dinner and they later told me it was delicious :-)

I ended up running into Heather and Jim, who had also arrived early, in the coffee shop and ended up not having to spend solitary hours waiting for the show. We went to get Chinese food ourselves, and I attempted to relive my nerve wracking experience accidentally eating with half the band in that very same restaurant four years earlier, though sadly, none of them joined us on this occasion. We did see Dan heading off to dinner with his family, and you will have to excuse me for pointing out how stinking cute his little girl is again. And she's getting so BIG. That was definitely the cutie patootie moment of my day.

Our seats in the theater were in the middle of the second row. There was much debate over how best to extract ourselves from them, should Flans issue the cattle call to the front, and "up and over" the front row, seemed to be the easiest solution. Unfortunately, for me, the fever portion of my illness hit me very hard during the Moon Hooch set and I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I otherwise might have. At least that was one benefit of sitting down; I wasn't also trying to stand and hold a stage position while my body was revolting against me. Thankfully, the cold medicine kicked in by the time the Giants went on.

TMBG setlist: Damn Good Times - You're On Fire - Memo To Human Resources - Call You Mom - James K. Polk - Circular Karate Chop - Cloisonné - Puppet Head - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Drink! - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Lost My Mind - Nanobots - Withered Hope - Dr. Evil - Can't Keep Johnny Down - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Why Does The Sun Shine? - 123 Band Intro - When Will You Die Encore - Tesla - Istanbul Encore 2 - Mammal - The Mesopotamians - New York City

Maybe I am just not remembering it, but it seemed like this show had much less banter and just stuck to the music than some of the other shows on this tour. Maybe the seats really put a damper on the chit chat. I'm not sure. Linnell commented on how far away we all were before Call You Mom. And after that song, Flans finally said he couldn't deal with how weird it was to have everyone sitting down and asked us all to stand up and come forward. I did indeed go up and over the front row, and to a spot on the left side. Danny gave me a look when I got up there that I couldn't quite interpret. It was either amusement at my method for reaching the stage, or just a general comment on the chaos Flans had created, but it was amusing no matter what.

Continuing the trend of ending up next to most disruptive fan in the crowd, I ended up next to a very, VERY enthusiastic girl, who went from mildly annoying to down right obnoxious over the course of the show. I can appreciate being excited to see your favorite band as much as anyone, and I can even tolerate the shouted requests and the excited screaming and yelling, but when you are boosting yourself up on stage so your boyfriend can take pictures of you "with" the band, you are taking it a little too far. I'm not even sure she realized just how close she came to getting booted out too, as Brunett was on the move to remove her, when she finally got down.

Danny forgot to participate in the bow after James K. Polk, until he looked around and realized everyone else was down and suddenly dropped. The boys were teasing him about it after. It was amusing.

My friend Amanda got the guitar solo on The Famous Polka. Flans finally solved his problem of losing his guitar pick too, as he has started keeping a couple taped to the back of the head of his guitar for easy access. Very clever Flans.

The Avatars did the bit about Axel Rose being knighted by Dennis Rodman again, but this time the third person was "Kim some guy." I think maybe Flans realized he got the name wrong the day before, but still couldn't remember what the right name was. "Sir Axel Rose, ladies and gentlemen, because, it's like what Jerry Lewis said..." And then there was silence. That was the joke. "It's a lot like what Jerry Lewis said," replied Green. "Think about it. That's a thinker," said Blue. Green started to introduce the song, but Blue interrupted to point out that Axel Rose is a perfectionist and it takes him 10-20 years to complete a song. "Collaborating with him on even a syllable is not only an honor, it's like what Jerry Lewis said."

The Nanobots sound effect sounded really odd to me at both this show and the one the following day. I think I was just at a funny angle on the stage and I could hear Flans himself more than the mic effect, so it lost some of the robotic aspect. Still pretty funny though.

Linnell played the chords to Everybody Conga on the keyboard as he responded to Flans' greeting.

Linnell: "What is it Robot Flansburgh?" *said in rhythm with the chords he was playing*

Flans: "I am no longer to be referred to as Robot Flansburgh."

Linnell: "Oh."

Flans: "Because after a two week long conclave in the back lounge of They Might Be Giants touring vehicle, finally the white smoke has emerged and I am now Pope Robot the First. Infallible. Even in this portion of the show. I need a bouncy, bouncy B, John. I might be infallible but if I don't know what note I'm gonna sing, man, oh man, is this song gonna blow."

Linnell: "It will blow infallible."

Flans: "Yes. I'd like to dedicate this next song to Pope Robot Zero. He will always be in our hearts."

Linnell: "We will always have his fans." *some people in the audience next to me 'woo'd'* "Those people. The people who 'woo'd'"

Robin came out to sing Dr. Evil with no introduction. She had been standing off on the side of the stage with Jon Carter for several songs, singing along, which was cute. She was very stylishly dressed I must say, though mostly obscured by the keyboard from where I was standing. After she finished Marty and Danny played a bass and drum only version of the The Theme from Dallas as exit music for her. Flans seemed very entertained by this, and gave them a shout out for this effort. I thought it sounded pretty cool.

The crowd went kind of nuts for Birdhouse. I mean, they always do, but it seemed like this crowd went a little more nuts than some of the recent ones. It was neat.

Flans actually did the real nuclear reaction of the sun, during Why Does the Sun Shine? At the first show in Columbia, he had had a cheat sheet that said "Hydrogen, Carbon, etc, etc" stuck to his pedal board. I wonder if it was still there?

For the 123 Intro, Linnell played what sounded like a bit of a lovely classical piece. It was more intense piano playing than I am used to from him and I was impressed. Dan played a bit of a song, that I should probably recognize but didn't, but it prompted Linnell to cup his hands over his mouth and "woo" from the back of the stage.

It is a shame, that while Marty was doing his thing during the intro, that the majority of the crowd could not see the performance that Brunett put on, trying to get the drum cam working. He was fiddling with it and cajoling it and talking to it, saying "come on, come on" clearing in a panicked rush to make it work, less Marty turn around for a pose at the end of his solo only to me met with a black screen. And, by god, he got it going just in time. I wanted to give him a big cheer, he looked so relieved. And then when Marty did turn around for his pose, he was entirely too high to have his face visible on the camera, and Brunett was directing him to move lower to be properly visible as he shook his fist at the screen.

The Johns delivered some nicknames to the crowd. The funniest part of this, was that, after the nick names, Flans turned the flashlight on Jim, who had ear plugs in that were attached to plastic chords, and accused him of listening to the radio. Priceless.

The encore seemed a little subdued. After Flans nixed any fake endings on Istanbul, I briefly wondered if they were going to come back for a second at all. But they did, and played Mammal again! Yay! Flans talked about their upcoming tour stops and encouraged people to come to the Huntington show the next day.

And that was about it. I apologize, but I think the fever and illness really dampened my ability to remember details from this one. I was really just trying to concentrate on enjoying it despite feeling like death warmed over.

I didn't take nearly as many photos as I usually do at this one, but those I did are here:

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Electric Banana, It Ain't

March 20, 2013 - Mr. Small's Theatre - Millvale, PA

It's been a while since I have visited Mr. Small's and they have done some renovations. Where I remember waiting for the show in a rainy courtyard last time, that entire area has been enclosed now, in some sort of partially finished construction. This year we spent much of our waiting time hanging out on the steps of the old church that has become this rock venue. And the rest crammed into a tiny walled area outside the new construction. My companions were a mix of old friends and acquaintances and new ones, as I got close enough to home to be joined by some of the regular crowd.

We were early enough to hear the whole soundcheck. They ran through the venue song again, as well as Your Racist Friend. They were also doing Dr. Evil, and I briefly thought Robin was there. Until I realized, that it was one of the Johns singing Robin's part. And doing a terrible job of it. By the time they got to the high note at the end it was truly horrific. I couldn't even begin to say which of them it was butchering this poor song. But on the second run through it was definitely Linnell. Fortunately, the second go round, they didn't get to the end. They also sound checked Mammal, which I was very excited about, as I have only heard that played twice, and only at Apollo 18 shows. But I wasn't about to get my hopes up for hearing it outside soundcheck, as I have had that experience too many times before.

After a long and chilly wait, we were finally admitted into the sanctuary of Mr. Small's. Keeping with my alternating pattern, I went for the left side of the stage at this show. I am quite a fan of Mr. Small's. The restored church makes an awesome rock venue. My only wish was that is had been a bit warmer inside. By this point in the tour I had succumbed to tour plague, aka some vicious version of sinus infection/cold, and while we waited for the show to start, it seemed like there was constantly a door open, blowing cold air right on me. Not a pleasant feeling.

The Moon Hooch boys experienced a shake up at this show, in the form of equipment failure. Mid way through one of the songs, the battery on the mic on Mike's sax crapped out. He smoothly crossed the stage and lowered the mic that was in front of Wenzl and started playing into it. It took me a minute to realize what had happened. But they made it work. And then as they transitioned into the next song, Wenzl reached into his bag, which was sitting on the stage, pulled out some batteries still in the charger and handed them to Mike. He then started the next song, while Mike changed the batteries in his mic pack. And within a minute they were back up and running. "Good save" became the phrase of the night after that point. Maybe I am crazy, but I always enjoy watching shows where something goes wrong and the performers are able to go with the flow and make it work and find their way back out of it, without making a big deal of it. And these guys still knocked it out of the park.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - James K. Polk - Memo To Human Resources - Celebration - You're Racist Friend - They'll Need A Crane - Cloisonné - Drink! - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Whistling In The Dark - Circular Karate Chop - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Lost My Mind - Pittsburgh - S-E-X-X-Y - Withered Hope - Nanobots - Puppet Head - Birdhouse In Your Soul - 123 Band Intro - Damn Good Times - When Will You Die Encore - Tesla - Can't Keep Johnny Down Encore 2 - Mammal - The Mesopotamians - New York City Encore 3 - Istanbul

Following their bow a the end of James K. Polk, the Johns had a discussion about how to end their final show. Linnell suggested just mashing his face into the keyboard (though he called in an organ) to signal that the show was over. They also discussed the controversy within the band over the proper way to pronounce Nanobots. Linnell claimed that different regions of the country pronounce it differently. Flans said that "this side of the stage pronounces it differently." "The western side of the stage pronounces it Naanobots." Then Linnell asked, "How are yinz doing?" "I can't believe you went ethnic," replied Flans. "People love the yinz," said Linnell. "Everyone loves the yinz." "That's pandering, John," accused Flansburgh. And Linnell had to agree. Flans said they had a new album out, "with tons of songs on it that we're not gonna play right now." And then they played Memo to Human Resources. I am sorry to say it, but damn, am I sick of that song.

They did in fact play Your Racist Friend, after doing it at soundcheck, which was exciting for me, as they had played virtually the same setlist for days in a row prior to this point. Before Cloisonné, Flans pointed out the "pointing stick" on the end of the bass clarinet again, and talked about how One Eyed Joe had learned his lesson about getting too close to it. I ended up accidentally getting a very intense picture of Danny staring straight into my camera while he was playing the keyboard. I didn't realize it until I looked at the picture afterward and was extremely startled.


In his introduction to Drink!, Flans encouraged us to use our whole bodies as vessels, "like a giant iron lung of volume," to chant the call backs. Also, "This next song features the acoustic guitar stylings of Mr. Dan Milller. You might remember him in the music store, playing that Heart song. Something about that A minor chord." Dan then took the cue to play the riff from said Heart song. I don't know Heart, well enough, but I think, from later comments that it was Magic Man? Maybe?

After many, many, attempts at capturing the Doctor Worm leap shot, I finally came as close to getting it as I have ever been at this show. It still isn't absolutely 100% what I want, but it is pretty damn close. Danny checked in with me after they finished the song, to see how he had done and I had to report that it was pretty damn good.


Flans talked about their iPhone app prior to Circular Karate Chop, and said that it played a different song everyday, which was great because you never have to hear the same song twice, because you hate that song. Then Flans asked Linnell to talk for a bit, and he said sure but he needed a topic. The audience suggested some, but Linnell said they were no good. Then he and Flans pretended to be soliciting for improve topics. "We need a felony." "An occupation, a mind altering drug, a way of having a tragic accident." "A story line." "An idea." "A punchline." "We need something funny to happen. Can someone help us with that?" "Just shout out any three things that are funny." "We need a plot. We a script actually. We need an entire double spaced typed....."

The Avatars had a pretty entertaining monologue tonight.

Green: "You have a human hand Blue Avatar."

Blue" "I have emotional problems. Deep troubling emotional problems."

Green: "Those two things go together. Once you introduce the human hand, emotional problems follow."

Blue: "I'm tugging on my neck in a nervous, nervous way."

Green: "How's that Bell's Palsy coming along?"

Blue: "That's not funny man."

Green: "No, I was concerned. I'm asking out of friendship and concern."

Blue: "You don't even like me."

Green: "I don't even know you, man."

At this point Blue got distracted by the fact that there was a shadow of a microphone on their camera screen, and it looked like he was singing into it on their video feed. He became rather obsessed with this fact.

Green: "I'm the green one. He's the blue one."

Blue: "I'm the one with the microphone."

Green: "He's got the microphone. I got the loud voice. Hey!"

Blue: "He doesn't need a microphone."

Green: "No microphone!"

Blue: "And he doesn't need a light because he's lit from within."

Then the puppets did some more of the cable TV Channel J schtick they were doing at the start of the tour.

Blue: "Mystery puppets!"

Green: "Hours and hours of puppet dancing!"

Blue: "It feels wrong, because it is."

Green: "Because the budget is so looooow."

Blue: "I'm dancing just for you, baby. I'm a puppet. I'm _your_ puppet. Where's my microphone? Oh, here's my microphone."

They talked about their new collaboration with Sire Axel Rose, who was recently knighted in a ceremony with Dennis Rodman and Seung Yong-il (spelling questionable on that as research shows that Blue seems to have made up the person with bits of several notable names, unless I am totally missing something.) They claimed that Rodman and Seung Yong-il, had knighted Axel with a crown and then he had immediately sent them some lyrics. They expressed their wish that someone was blogging this news as it was very important. In this performance of He's Loco, Green substituted Wild Wild West with Contagion. "Gwyneth Paltrow, people!" The boys also did a nice instrumental version of He's Loco as the Avatar exit music, that I appreciated. When he got back to his microphone, Flans commented that it smelled like wool.

Lost My Mind managed to stay in the setlist tonight. Yay! After they finished it, Danny pointed out to Linnell that they hadn't yet done the venue song. Linnell suggested this to Flans, who got rather confused, asking if they wanted to do it now. Danny told him that he was just pointing out that it wasn't on the setlist at all. "Touché," said Linnell. "You win this time, Danny," said Flans, who then agreed to do the song now.

But first, (or maybe it was just after, I'm not sure) there was a lengthy discussion of The Electric Banana and Johnny Banana himself. Flans confirmed with the crowd that The Electric Banana was, in fact, no longer open. He then told a story about seeing the list of venues they were playing at, the first time they were booked at the Banana and questioning their booking agent about playing at a place called The Electric Banana. Someone else that was there at the time advised him that the guy who ran the place, Johnny Banana, was a real tyrant, but they would be fine as long as Johnny wasn't drinking. And when they arrived at the venue, he was chugging alcohol straight from the bottle from the moment they walked in the door. Some people off to my left, kept indicating that Johnny Banana was there, at the show, but whether or not they were being serious, I do not know.

I have a note on my setlist that says "Fireproof" but I have no memory of what it is referring to. I have a sense that Flans was calling one of the boys "fireproof" but I can't remember which one or in what context. Maybe someone else who was there can remember?

This is how tonight's Robot Flans exchange went:

Linnell: "How's it going Robot Flansburgh?"

Flans: "I don't know. It seems like something's on fire. There's an awful lot of smoke. I think something's burning. Somebody's burning a hot dog or something."

Linnell: "Probably."

Flans: "Seem like, maybe, actually it smells like two hot dogs are burning. Or maybe a hot dog and a hamburger."

Linnell: "Yeah, I'm smelling that, now."

Flans: "People don't know it, but I am infallible."

Linnell: "That's true."

Flans: "Damn right, it's true."

Linnell: "I guess you've recently acquired robotal infallibility. Thanks to your being crowned Pope Robot the First. Perhaps you read it in the news. I think there was a big story about that."

Flans: "Bow down, people. Yes. It's a very a very elaborate ceremony. You take one or two hot dogs or a hot dog and a hamburger and you burn them, and when the smoke turns white a whole new robot pope can be named. I gave myself the name Robot Pope One, in honor of Robot Pope Zero."

Linnell: "He mysteriously disappeared."

Flans: "There was some kind of hot dog/hamburger burning accident, in which Pope Robot Zero perished."

Linnell: "We'll never know what happened."

Flans: "Some people say it was poisoning. The hamburger was poisoned. But I just think it was very burned. It was the smoke. La, la, la, la, la."

Linnell: "So would you like to sing a song with us, Robot Flansburgh Pope?"

Flans: "I would love to sing a song. I want to sing the song Nanobots. What, what, what, what note?"

Linnell: "What's the matter?"

Flans: "Is it a B?"

Linnell: "You're cool. You're infallible. In fact, the great thing about this song is, if we screw it up, it's still infallible. Cause it's ex cathedra. You get what I'm saying? No mistakes. It can't be a mistake."

Flans: "I love Nancy Sinatra just as much as anybody, but I'm not gonna screw this up."

There was some nostalgia talk about cassettes and CDs surrounding Puppet Head.

Another classic 123 Band Intro. Dan was going to do his bit laying his guitar on the floor again, but Flans suggested he play some more of the Heart song instead, which he did. And Marty had some more fun with his drum cam, this time posing with his fist in the camera.

I got very distracted in the encore by a woman to my left attempting to make a request by holding her phone out to the stage for the band to read. As if they were going to be able to read something on her phone. I was a bit glad they didn't acknowledge the request, given how annoying she was. And also amused that she was requesting a song that had been in the set, every single night prior to this one, but was taken out at this show.

When they came back for the second encore, Flans played a couple of chords from The Guitar and apparently confused Linnell, as to what they were playing next. But Flans said he was just checking his sound. So Linnell announced that they were going to play a song they hadn't played in a long time and they'd see how it went. And they actually played Mammal!! I was so excited! They don't surprise me with songs very often any more, but it's always nice when they do. Especially one of my favorites.

When they returned for the final encore, all I could hear at first was Dan starting the intro to Istanbul. At first I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, until I realized that Dan had gone up to the balcony in the very back of the house and was playing from way up there. God, I love it when he does that. Makes for some seriously epic rock star moments. He did eventually return to the stage for the end of the song, in time to do a couple of fun fake endings where Flans was teetering on the drum riser, looking like he was just on the verge of toppling off. Once again, they managed not to rock the quite hard enough to roll down the hill, but it was close!


The rest of the pictures are available on Flickr:

Dear Mom, I'm On Drugs Now

March 19, 2013 - The Majestic Theatre - Detroit, MI

One of the hardest parts of traveling the country, going to shows is trying to anticipate how early the fans in any particular city will arrive at a venue to line up. In some cities, arriving four hours early will still not get you at the front of the line. In others, you can show up an hour early and be first in line. And there doesn't seem to be an awful lot of rhyme or reason to determine which are which. Whether because of the weather, or just the habits of the residents of this city, Detroit fell into the later category. I arrived at the venue about an hour and half before doors and there wasn't a soul in line. I couldn't even quite tell where the door to the venue was. But there was a cafe attached to the theater so I figured I would go in and grab something to eat quickly, instead of standing out in the cold alone.

The odd thing about the cafe was that it had a door leading directly into the theater so I could clearly hear soundcheck while sitting at my table, and it got louder any time someone opened the door. The band was running through the Pittsburgh venue song when I arrived, in anticipation of the following day's show. They wrapped it up shortly after I sat down in the cafe, so I didn't get to hear very much. The most awkward part, was that Dan came walking right through the cafe later while I was eating my sandwich, and I tried very hard to look inconspicuous.

I was nervous about not being able to see the line and actually finishing my meal in time to line up, but I needn't have been. 45 minutes before doors and I was still the second person in line. But I timed it perfectly as another 20 or so people showed up in the next 15 minutes. Perhaps everyone was just as reluctant as I was to spend more time outside than necessary. Because it was bitterly cold. 28 degrees with 23 mile an hour winds resulting in "feels like 15" conditions. Seriously unpleasant. Thank goodness I had stopped and bought new boots earlier in the day, after the frozen feet situation in Chicago. The Moon Hooch guys walked out past us while we were waiting, and the saxophonist, Mike, who had introduced himself to me in Cleveland waved at me.

Finally, nearly 15 minutes later than the posted time, they let us inside to thaw. I chose a spot on the right with a good view across the stage. Moon Hooch put on another very well received show for the people of Detroit. And I do believe Mike was having a little fun with me from the stage during one of the songs. Nothing makes you feel quite as "inside" the show experience as sharing a little "in-joke" with someone on stage. I am the first to admit I am totally spoiled in this regard, but it is oh, so much fun.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - James K. Polk - Memo To Human Resources - Celebration - Call You Mom - The Guitar - Fingertips - Cloisonné - Drink! - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Whistling In The Dark - Circular Karate Chop - Lost My Mind - They'll Need A Crane - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - S-E-X-X-Y - Nanobots - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Puppet Head - 123 Band Intro - Ana Ng - Damn Good Times - When Will You Die Encore - Tesla - Can't Keep Johnny Down Encore 2 - The Mesopotamians - New York City - Istanbul

After James K. Polk, Flans started a discussion about their group bow and how they were finally perfecting it so that they all stood up at the same time. He said they were trying to invoke the Beatles at Shea Stadium vibe. Flans explained that the trick was to look at the other guys out of the corner of your eye so you could all snap back up at the same time. Linnell said you didn't want to be the one guy still bowing after everyone else was done so that someone else had to say to you "Hey, we're finished." Flans said that was what used to happen. "Not to us. To the Beatles. Mostly George." A bunch of people in the audience made "awwww" noises at Flans teasing George. Flans responded, "Hey, he was in the fucking Beatles."

Marty, who was towering above the stage on an ultra tall drum riser, absolutely wrecked his shit on Call You Mom. No, I mean he literally wrecked his shit. Midway through the bit near the end where he just goes insane, he not only managed to knock over the mic pointed at his floor tom, he also hit one of the cymbals with such force that he made the wing nut on top of it come unscrewed and go shooting off across the stage. It was insane. This was the second time in my life I have seen Marty actually break the drums from playing so hard, and both times it has left me awed and stunned. God damn, that man can play.

After Fingertips, Flans recounted a memory of playing in Detroit in August once, when they had opened every window in the venue. Flans declared it to be "the biggest show business mistake since Bat Day at Yankee Stadium. A little bat humor." He then admitted that that joke was "a thinker" and that he was still thinking about it.

Flans: "So recently we've stopped fucking around and started drinking a little more coffee before we go onstage and the thing about it is, it makes the shows go great, but we feel terrible. But that's the price we pay for The Big D, ladies and gentlemen. Bringing entertainment to you people. This song features every member of the band, including Mr. Marty Beller, on the drums, people. Marty actually requested a six foot riser, but it was unavailable." Marty shrugged at this, as if to say "what can ya do?" "This song also has the bass clarinet stylings of Mr. John Linnell, ladies and gentlemen. But we'd like to remind you, don't get to close as the bass clarinet is equipped with a poking stick at the end of it. Don't make the mistake that the Louisville audience made." I love how the Louisville audience has been the brunt of so many jokes during the remainder of the tour. That must have been quite a show.

Flans joked, as Dan tested out his acoustic for Drink!, that the "beautiful, beautiful acoustic guitar" was "almost wasted on a show like this." Flans gave us our chanting instructions saying that "mandatory audience participation is both a privilege and a responsibility." Flans joked about not singing in the monster voice because we wouldn't be able to talk at work tomorrow. Then he chastised a woman at the back of the room for yelling stuff at him while he was trying to talk. "Lady, lady, lady. I'm in the middle of instruction the audience how to do a portion of the show, and you're busting out the crazy Chardonnay talk so early, so early in the evening."

Flans had us do a soundcheck, but was not impressed. "I know it's a bit early in the evening to start comparing Detroit to other cities, so I am going to turn this microphone around and then all the way back to myself. We're going to have a little rewind on that, folks." He had us try it again and then declared it very good. His last instruction was that while the song was super quiet, that did not mean we were to be super quiet.

Danny managed to get some pretty serious height on his leap off of the super tall drum riser during Doctor Worm, and while the picture I took is crap, it is entertaining in that I also managed to catch Flans jumping up into the air.

Flans chose a fan in the middle of the front row to play his guitar on The Famous Polka, instead of the right side of the stage as he has been doing. This person was so good at it, that Flans actually stayed down and played all the chords for the rest of the song while the fan did the strumming, until the song was over. It was, by far, the coolest instance of this game I have seen to date and sounded awesome. Go, random Detroit TMBG fan!!

The Johns talked about Nanobots before Circular Karate Chop and Linnell announced that they had learned some of the new songs, as if this was a major accomplishment. He added that they had done some rehearsing and that there had been some fights. Flans chimed in: "It's got all sorts of songs on it: quiet songs, loud songs, sassy songs, kind songs."

Flans asked Linnell how his day had been and Linnell answered that it was "pretty mellow." "I took an Ambien and slept for 18 hours straight," said Flans. "Well I guess your day was more mellow then," replied Linnell. Flans continued. "I didn't realize how powerful that drug was. I was like 'I'm having a little trouble sleeping' and I woke up and found all my emails had been answered." "It's convenient," said Linnell. "All my dreams and all my emails have been answered," said Flans. Then, pretending to type an email, "'Dear Mom, I'm on drugs now. Don't worry about me.' Send."

Flans informed us that Cicular Karate Chop was in the key of F, for people who were performing in the audience. He declared that this was one half step above the people's key. "It's for the slightly high people."

After this song, Flans interrupted the band and told them that while the next song was great, he wanted to do a different song first. He wanted to play Lost My Mind. I thought this was kind of funny as it is the Nanobots song they have played but have been playing the least on this tour. I wonder if Flans just keeps forgetting about it when he is making setlists and he only just remembered it now.

I can no longer remember the specifics, but at some point in the later section of the show, they returned to the conversation about Flans being on Ambien, and Linnell was describing this whole scenario where Flans was standing in the median of the highway in his pajamas sleepwalking on Ambien. What I can't remember is what he was doing out there in the scenario, which is a shame because I remember it being really funny, and that as I was writing down my note to remind myself, I purposefully didn't write the whole quote because I was sure I would remember it. Doh.

The Avatars did much of the same material they have been doing the last week. While pretending to be having sound issues, Green made a bunch of gagging-like noises then, with long pauses in between, "expensive.......150,000......dollars.......wasted......set-up." They joked about not knowing what city they were broadcasting to, and hoping they were right about it being Detroit, because otherwise people would be angry. "Good thing we don't have ears." Then they talked about their new album with Sir Axel Rose, and there was a brief appearance by the Supreme Court. They were initially facing away from the camera with just their cardboard back visible and then when Linnell turned them around, they were too low. Blue informed them that they needed to be higher in order to be visible in the camera, and they apologized and said that they hadn't rehearsed. The Court declared their typical ruling about the Avatars rocking. Then Green told them "get out of here, you knuckle heads." The Avatars then went on about how you couldn't make that shit up. "No, you shouldn't. You wouldn't. You couldn't." Green has started changing up the DVD that he owns at the end of He's Loco too. I believe at this performance it was Inception.

The ever entertaining Robot Flansburgh routine, continued with some more hilarious comedy gold.

Linnell addressed Flans, then corrected himself: "Or should I say, Pope Robot the First."

Flansburgh: "That is correct, John. I am now, no longer Robot Flansburgh. I am Pope Robot the First."

Linnell: "Tell us how that happened."

Flansburgh: "Super fucked up story."

Linnell: "I know right."

Flansburgh: "Kinda long but I'll try to sum it up. See, there was this other robot, Pope Robot Zero. He was cool, but he got metal fatigue. So he had to be replaced. The crew and the band of They Might Be Giants convened for two long weeks in the back lounge of the bus. For days and days, black smoke emerged from the back lounge of the bus as the decision was being made, as to who would be the next Pope Robot. Then finally, three days ago, the white smoke emerged from the back of the bus. At first there was some miscommunication and it appeared that Chong had been named Pope Robot the First. But it appears, it appears that is was because the VHS player was the only machine working and Up In Smoke was the only tape. You'd think if you got bus built in 2009, you'd at least have a DVD player in there somewhere. Wrong. Just Up In Smoke, VHS. It gets all scratchy during the good part, which is really short. But no, it twas I, Robot Flans, who has been named Pope Robot One. And I am infallible. Even this part of the show which seems terribly long, and slightly outdated even though its less than three days old, still works like a charm."

Personally, I love that they can manage to keep this routine funny over and over and over again. Also funny, it the fact that Flans can just not seem to get the order of the lyrics right in the backing vocals near the end. Yellow bots, marching bots, wind them up, ask them a question, all of these lyrics get mixed up all willy nilly and I think he just kind of hopes no one notices. Well, I notice, Flans. But I think its cute, so its okay.

For the 123 Band Intro this time, I thought it was Dan who had the best one. He laid his guitar flat on the stage and knelt down in front of it. Then he proceeded to play it more like a piano that a guitar, plucking at strings and sliding his fingers on it. It looked and sounded super cool. Danny's was also neat, as he picked up one of Marty's drum sticks and used it to play his bass, tapping it up and down on the strings. Of course, Marty always gets to have the last laugh in this game, and he has a super good time doing this whole rhythm that involves leaving over to press his elbow into the top of one of the drums while he plays it and then whipping back around to the drums on the other side, before leaning his elbow down again. And he always finishes it with some fun sound effects on the electronic drum pad, before just losing his mind all over the drums at the very end. And tonight his post-solo pose for the drum-cam was a splayed arm bow in front of the camera. It was not quite as epic as Cleveland but it was still really cool.

Danny ran into some technical difficulties in Damn Good Times, right at the point at which the songs gets quiet and becomes just Flans singing with Danny playing the repeated bass note and Marty tapping out a rhythm on the drum. Sounding panicked, Danny yelled across the stage to Dan, who turned to him in confusion saying "What?" Danny frantically indicated that he was unable to play. Dan calmly began playing the repeated note for him on the guitar, nodding at him like "don't sweat, I got your back." When Danny got up and running again and the song continued, he said "thank you" to Dan with such sincerity, you'd think he had saved his ass in a much more significant way. I thought the entire exchange was rather adorable, I have to admit.

I believe this was the one night when, though the flashlight was on the stage, it was never used. They didn't do the ape battle or the nick name segment. Not sure why exactly. Either they just forgot or they felt like they were running long.

Flans was plugging their playing cards that they have available at the merch stand. He talked about how they are called the "devil's prayer book" and how he and Marty had been getting deep into the devil's prayer book during the tour, I believe in reference to their poker games. Linnell added that his grandmother actually had called playing cards the devil's prayer book.

Unfortunately, this show started a trend that would continue for the next several shows, of some seriously fucked up audience member appearing at the stage at the end of the show and being really irritating. Not sure why the drug/stoned people seem to gravitate towards where I am standing when they do this, but I sure wish they would stop.

This was one of the livelier Istanbul performances I have seen this tour, mostly because Danny suddenly started behaving like he was on a pogo stick. He was bouncing around for much of the song, but during the fake endings he was just hopping round and round and round in circles in front of the strobe light creating a totally psychedelic effect. I can not imagine how he managed to walk straight when he was done. If it were me, I would have crashed into the drum riser walking off the stage. And he managed to do it while still playing bass. Now that's talent I can appreciate.

Detroit pictures are available here:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 857

Today's song is...

Didn't Kill Me

There is something so perfect about Nanobots ending on the lyric "the end." And on a song that sounds like classic Dial-A-Song era TMBG.

And, I suppose it also makes a nice ending point for this Song of the Day project I have been working on for over two years now. It seems strange that this will no longer be part of my daily routine. I'd like to thank those of you who have stuck with me on a daily basis to read my musings on TMBG's immense catalog. Though this is the last song on a list that seemed like it would never run out, I do have one final post prepared for tomorrow. It's a repeat song, but the only one I've never gotten the opportunity to share my own thoughts on. And I promise, I will revive the list for any future releases TMBG produces.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 856

Today's song is...

Too Tall Girl

It happened slowly, but I am totally in love with this song. Like head over heels. The instrumentation is fantastic. There are so many little delightful things buried in the music, from the little bits of percussion to the clarinet, to the bass drum, to the beautiful vibraphone. And the lyrics are so whimsical. It's almost a love song. Maybe a bit of a silly one, but a love song nonetheless. Packed with interesting vocabulary words and one of the most delightful rhymes I've heard: "Knows more etiquette than Connecticut." I wouldn't even have said it a week ago, but now, this is hand down my favorite Flans song on Nanobots. It delights me. There is just no better word for it. It is delightful.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

All The Majesty Of Your Junior High School Multi-Purpose Room

March 17, 2013 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH

It is funny to think that I have now been traveling to see this band for long enough that this is my third visit to the Beachland (it was also, incidentally, my third visit to The Vic). It is such an odd little venue. A little hole-in-the-wall place kind of in the middle of nowhere. But I've never seen a bad show here, and tonight's was the best I have yet seen on this tour. Super high energy, funny jokes, amusing antics to watch on stage, and some entertaining personal moments for myself as well.

I briefly got to wave to Valerie and Zack before the show, in what has become a bit of a Beachland tradition. And I spent a while talking to the friendly lady standing next to me at the stage while we waited for the action to get started. Moon Hooch did their usual routine again. For once, I could actually see their drummer while he was performing, and he looked a little crazed. He was pretty intense while playing. The funniest moment in the set, for me anyway, was when one of the saxophonists, the one that only plays the one sax, not the one with the whole variety of horns, briefly wandered over to my side of the stage to play for a minute. He looked down and recognized me, and chose to say "hey!" While he was still playing. Sax still in his mouth. It was pretty entertaining and a bit silly. He actually stopped me later, on my way out of the venue, when I was walking past their merch table, for a formal introduction. His name is Mike apparently, in case you were curious. Oh, and the other guy? The multi-horn player? He had an a crazy pair of checked pants, apparently attempting to give Danny a run for his money in the pants department.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - James K. Polk - Memo To Human Resources - Celebration - Call You Mom - The Guitar - Fingertips - Cloisonné - Drink! - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Whistling In The Dark - Circular Karate Chop - They'll Need A Crane - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - S-E-X-X-Y - Nanobots - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Puppet Head - 123 Band Intro - Ana Ng - Damn Good Times - When Will You Die Encore - Tesla - Can't Keep Johnny Down Encore 2 - The Mesopotamians - New York City Encore 3 - Istanbul

The Beachland is such an oddly shaped stage that they had their gear set up a little differently than they usually do. Marty and the drum riser were pushed further back into the stage and Danny's amp and pedals were in front of it, off to the left. I was back on the left side for this show, smack in front of both Danny and Marty, and for once the keyboard was pushed far enough back, that I had a decent view of Linnell too, and not just his head sticking up over the top of the keyboard.

After the first song, Danny turned the table on me. Instead of me perpetually complimenting him on his exciting clothing choices on stage, he complimented me on my shirt, mouthing "nice shirt" while plucking at his own, in case I might miss what he was saying. It was the band's new iPhone app cassette shirt, which I thought was an appropriate choice, given that it was St. Patrick's Day and the shirt is bright green.

I didn't even realize it for a few minutes until I finally looked to the right side of the stage, but Dan had also made an exciting fashion choice, arriving on stage wearing one of the "My Other Truck Is They Might Be Giants" hats that the band has been selling at the merch table. Flans has been mentioning these at several of the shows and pointing out that they sell a lot better in the South. With his plaid shirt and the hat on, Dan looked every bit the trucker and was a perfect model for the hat. Danny could be seen appreciating with Marty, how well Dan captured the trucker look, the first time Dan approached the keyboard.


Prior to Memo to Human Resources, the Johns had some fond words for the Beachland, and Flans started a gag that would return at several point throughout the show. "Welcome to the Beachland Ballroom, ladies and gentlemen," said Flans. "All the majesty of your junior high school multi-purpose room wrapped up in one fantastic rock venue." Linnell broke in to point out that while it sounded like they were kidding, they really did love the place and they always have a great show there. Then Flans broke in, using a mock "announcer voice." "If you do not return your caps and gowns you will not get your actual diploma. I don't know how much we have to stress this. We will announce your name to your parents. The document you get will be blank. You will not get your actual diploma unless you return your caps and gowns. Will the person with the yellow pinto outside the auditorium, please move it. It is on fire."

Linnell asked Flans how he was doing. Flans replied that the drugs were wearing off. Linnell asked him if he was up for the challenge of the evening. Flans said, "I am. We have an epic song selection for you tonight, ladies and gentlemen. We call this a dynamic show because it includes both songs we are prepared for and songs we barely know at all. Cause show business is a tight rope walk." Then a weird screaming sound. "Cause those are the rules."

I have really been enjoying the very high energy run of Celebration, Call You Mom, The Guitar and Fingertips that they have played at the last few shows. Birdhouse has been tossed in there at a few shows too, though not this one. They blaze through that run of bouncy, fun songs full out and it really gets the show off to a great start.

Flans sat down on the drum riser to do Cloisonné. Before he introduced the song he broke back in in his "announcer voice." "Members of the band, you must return your band instruments with your cap and gown."

Flans, while delivering the Drink! call back instructions, call it the "mandatory audience participation portion" of the show. "Not since the great folk music revival scares of the late '70s have audiences trembled in fear as much." He told us that we were "going to be making up for your St. Patrick's Day revelry, in one concentrated, two minute, semi-professional audition with a live music group. We are all one now, ladies and gentlemen. We are all They Might Be Giants now." He once again advised that we not sing our parts in the monster voice, especially the ladies, because it would rip up our voices for days. "We tried singing an entire show in monster voices for our tribute to Sepultura. I was this huge, huge mistake. Besides just being artistically bankrupt, it did not sound good." After our sound check, Flans declared "This is gonna be good." He then said he was taking out one of his ear bid because he wanted to make sure the performance was musically coherent.

During Doctor Worm, Flans and Danny came so close in front of me on the "solo" that I could barely get them both in the frame of my camera, even leaning back. And then the next part cracked me up. Danny turned around to approach the drum riser for his leap, only to find that Flans was standing on it, and did not appear inclined to relinquish his position. While Danny stood center stage on the ground, Flans jumped off the riser at appropriate moment. He didn't do the great flying leap that Danny does, but he did jump. But not to be outdone, or miss out on his air time, Danny climbed up on the riser and leapt off at the end of the song, straight forward. It was one of my favorite moments of the show.

Flans experienced a brief false start on Circular Karate Chop. I think he has the hardest time with the songs that he starts singing immediately, before any of the instruments come in. Then Linnell started to goof some of the lyrics to Crane, but caught and corrected himself, with an adorable whoopsie grin on his face.

The Avatars played around with pretending that their sound wasn't working on their feed, making noises that sounded like only every fifth syllable was coming through. Blue declared that he had fixed it and Green said that he had actually been choking on something. They claimed to be working at the Abbey Road studio with their friend Axel. This time they said they had been working on one song for five years. The time period keeps getting longer and longer every night. Blue said that the song was called Axel's Theme and Green corrected him and said it was called Axel F. Blue asked how the melody went and several people in the crowd started humming a tune. (I think there was some real reference here I wasn't getting.) Green said, that yeah, they had written that song and were still working on. Blue said that Axel F was the grade they had gotten on the song. Then he started staying "Who ever parked the yellow..." but he didn't finish what he was saying. It was enough for the crowd to get the joke and have a good laugh though. Then the puppets discussed the difference in beer tolerance when you are a sock puppet. "First of all the blood alcohol levels when you weigh four ounces," said Blue. "Different formula," said Green. "Devastating," declared Blue. "Secondly, you can't hear what the cop is yelling because you don't have any ears. What? I'm sorry!" yelled Green. "And then the bartender says I've never served a sock puppet before," quipped Blue. "Oh, I told that joke backwards."

Once again, my favorite robot voiced banter, this time referencing its own joke, that anything is funny when said in a robot voice.

Linnell greeted Robot Flansburgh, and told him he had a question for him.

Flans: "Yes, John?"

Linnell: "The question is..."

Flans: "When will we start rehearsing this bit?"

Linnell: "That _is_ the question."

Flans: "As soon as we have our summer replacement show and not a moment too soon. Until then it's strictly improv."

Linnell: "That's right."

Flans: "Keeping it real."

Linnell: "Not very funny but very real."

Flans: "No laughs. No jokes."

Linnell: "I want to congratulate you on your robotal infallibility that you've just acquired.

Flans: "Yes. Over the past two weeks, the crew and the band have gotten together in the back lounge of the bus to decide who will become Pope Robot One, after the untimely demise of Pope Robot Zero."

Linnell: "Yeah, how did Pope Robot Zero pass?"

Flans: "He died of metal fatigue." *pause* "You can't make this shit up."

Linnell: "You can't pay for these jokes. You wouldn't pay for these jokes."

Flans: "These jokes don't just tell themselves. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a cloud of white smoke emerged from the back of the tour bus and I was declared Pope Robot the First."

Linnell: "Pope Robot The First, ladies and gentlemen."

Flans: "Yes, I am infallible. Just the mere fact that this part of the show is going over at all, just proves my infallibility. It's like a friggin' black hole of entertainment. And yet we have the audience in the palm of our robotic hand. It's beautiful. Fucking beautiful."

Linnell asked Robot Flans what they were going to play. The crowd started yelling out requests.

Linnell: "Oh right, like we're taking requests all of a sudden. That would really be the capper."

Flans: "You guys play Cashmere." *pause for laughter* "We have a new album out. It's called Nanobots. None of it sounds like this. Which is why you should buy it."

This last was said while Flans was breaking down in laughter. One of the best parts of this routine is Flans' excellent sense of timing on when to drop his voice down to accent a particular word. It really is a endless well of comedy gold.

While the whole band worked together to make last night's 123 Band Intro fantastic, this night was all Marty. Which is not to say that the rest of the guys didn't help. Danny did his bit, the stepped away on one final plinging note, flinging his hand in the air, with this hilarious expression on his face. Linnell approached the keyboard and after a long pause, played a single buzzing sound effect on the Kaoss Pad before throwing his hands up in completion. Dan played around with some screaming wah-wah pedal guitar. But like I said, Marty stole the show. With the drum cam pointed at him, he played the hell out of the drums and then whipped around to point his stick directly at the camera and stare into it with an angry glare. When he first did it, the camera had gone black, but it popped back on, to Marty's angry face threatening the crowd on the big screen with a drum stick. And he preceded to sit frozen like that FOREVER. It was probably a good ninety seconds, despite pleas from members of the band that he should stop because he was freaking them out. In the words of Flansburgh: "Marty, you're scaring the shit out of me." Marty did eventually turn around and sat back down, looking for all the world like nothing had happened. Flans seemed at a loss for words. "I was not expecting that to happen," he said.


The Johns delivered some nicknames. My personal favorite was Destructor. Linnell emphasized that it was spelled with an "O-R." Flans has taken to equating their nicknaming skills to "that stuff that Mary Lou Henner was making up on 60 minutes." Flans tried to remember where they were playing over the next few days, and made reference to the fact that they had a day off in Detroit, with requisite joke about making cars. Flans also called attention to the hat Dan was wearing, pointing out that they had them for sale at the merch stand and once again saying that they sold much better in Dallas. He noted that as they were heading out to do the show today Victor had sent them off with the encouragement, "Let's go sell some hats!"

Dan entered the stage alone for the third encore to start the Istanbul intro. He had briefly lost his hat during the previous encore, but had it firmly back in place for this one. And they did at least two, if not maybe three fake endings, with Flans and Danny alternating standing on the drum riser and bouncing off of it. And at the very end, Danny ran around the stage in a big loop, like a goof, finishing with a big grin on his face while Marty and Dan laughed at him.

Marty, Flans and Danny all came out to pass out the stickers at the end of the show, and while Marty and Flans were politely handing them to people, Danny stood on the edge of the stage and flung them out into the crowd all willy nilly. One even whacked me in the head eventually. I think someone was a little punchy :-)

Such an awesome show. I believe my exact words after the show was over were "Holy shit, that was a good show."

I've included the picture of Marty and Dan in his hat, in the post, because you really need them for context, but the rest are available here:

Song of the Day - Day 855

Today's song is...


Here is a perfect example of a song that I was indifferent to on first listen, but has grown on me a lot over the last few weeks. It was all the lyrics about slacks that finally drew me in. Cause really, how can you go wrong with a song about pants? And I was just tickled at the idea of the guy only returning one slack. Because it raises the excellent question: why are they called a pair of slacks anyway? It is only one thing. I enjoy the contradiction too, of the primary character being described as "icky" and not really a great guy, but also someone everyone wants to know and be friends with. Also, I must admit, I totally didn't get the "first name: getting all up in you, last name: face" lyric, until I saw it written down.

Excellent use of accordion here too, but what I really noticed was the great bass line. This might just be my favorite bass line on the album. Personally, I think this would be a fun one for them to adapt for live performance, but maybe it wouldn't come across as well as I feel like it would. I'd sure like the chance to find out though.

We Have Many Questions

March 16, 2013 - The Vic - Chicago, IL

The city of Chicago takes their St. Patrick's Day very seriously and the festivities had CLEARLY already started when I arrived in town. The streets were absolutely littered with people wearing green, and leprechaun hats and beads and shamrocks and I think at least 95% of them were already drunk. Even though I arrived nearly three hours before doors, there were already about ten people in line ahead of me at The Vic. And it was cold. By the time the doors finally opened I was miserable because I couldn't feel my feet any longer. Also, thank goodness my friend Ana arrived when she did, as I had just realized that I left my camera in the car and was terribly grateful to have someone to save my spot in line while I ran to get it.

For the second consecutive show I have seen in Chicago, a couple got engaged in the crowd shortly before it started. Such a lovely way to begin a live together. I wonder what makes all the guys in Chicago think of it? There was also a couple of enthusiastic but very PDA heavy teenagers who started out behind me, but later pushed themselves into the front, in a space really only big enough for a single person. I felt off kilter all night because they kept bumping into me.

Moon Hooch has been doing the same setlist at all the shows so far, or at least as far as I can tell. The songs run together so much, I am not 100% sure I would noticed if they changed one. They got a very enthusiastic response from the crowd after they were finished. They keep doing all of their talking to the crowd after they are done though, which I find very awkward. Especially when they ramble about not knowing anyone named Leslie and asking anyone with that name to come introduce themselves at the merch stand to get a free CD.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - James K. Polk - Memo To Human Resources - Celebration - Call You Mom - The Guitar - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Fingertips - Cloisonné -- Drink! - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Whistling In The Dark - Circular Karate Chop - They'll Need A Crane - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - S-E-X-X-Y - Nanobots - Puppet Head - 123 Band Intro - Ana Ng - Damn Good Times - When Will You Die Encore - Tesla - The Mesopotamians - Can't Keep Johnny Down Encore 2 - She's An Angel - New York City

Flans commented on all the revelers on the streets outside. "It is clear that tonight is unlike other nights. We have many questions."

During one of the first songs, Flansburgh, amusingly, walked across the stage to a small digital clock that was pointed into the stage at the band and flipped it face down. I guess he didn't want to be reminded what time it was throughout the show.

I am trying to figure out why I don't have more visual memories of the first few songs and I think it's because I was watching Dan and Marty deal with some technical issues at the back of the stage. Something with the monitors I'd guess though I can't be sure.

During Danny's bass solo in The Guitar, Flans ran around to each member of the band to inform them of an on the fly setlist change he wanted to make. Dan had left the stage at that point to put on his hoodie. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say he wasn't feeling well, but again, I can't be sure. I almost forgot at the end, that Flans had not yet informed Danny, of the setlist change, but fortunately Flans remembered even though I hadn't. And as it turns out, Birdhouse was tucked in before Fingertips. Based of Flansburgh's comments from the previous night about not doing Cloisonné right after The Guitar, I assume he wanted to give himself more time to recover. And I can understand it, as Flans was SUPER energetic on the first few group of songs. He was bouncing around like crazy, but I think he wore himself out quickly and kept needing to make use of a towel to wipe down his face.

I believe it was also during The Guitar, that all three of the guitar playing members of the band went back to their amps at the rear of the stage, where they all proceeded to bend over to play their instruments directly into the amps. It was a pretty neat sound effect they managed to produce and it looked kind of cool, if a little silly, to see them all lined up like that. Unfortunately, by the time I thought to take a picture of it, Dan was the only one still doing it.

Marty clarified with Flans before starting Fingertips, that that was in fact still the next song they were going to play. What was amusing, was that he did so not by asking, but by wiggling his fingers at Flans with a quizzical look on his face. Dan also seemed amused by this and was teasing Marty about it afterward. Linnell and Flans have been having fun with the I Don't Understand You portion of Fingertips, making weird sounds into the mics for an extended period before continuing the song. And at the end, Dan had to pause before he could deliver the second whispered "Fingertips" because there was too much whooping from the crowd.

Flans invited the audience to participate on Drink, calling this portion "where we reach out to you and hope you don't reach back. Join us and become music professionals if just for one song." He did the monster voice again but recommended we not sing in the monster voice because it would rip up our throats and we wouldn't be able to sing later, except in a monster voice. After our first soundcheck he declared us not good enough and told us we needed less feeling and more volume. "Just pretend you are outside. You know, it's funny to think of this as some kind of metaphor, when in fact outside there are people soooo fucked up. I'm gonna you a little story about the person directly outside this building." Flans told us that even though the song was quiet we should not be quiet. "We'll do the emotional part, you guys do the insensitive part."

Flans has been letting one lucky audience member each night play his guitar during The Famous Polka. Tonight it was a friend of a friend just to my right who got the honor. Flans handed him his pick first, but it wasn't immediately clear what he was to do with it, until Flans bent down and presented him the guitar. The funniest part about this routine, to me anyway, is that Flans always needs the pick back to play the end of the song and can't always get it from the audience member. Of the instances of this I have seen, he has attempted to go without once and the other times, asked for the pick back from the fan, then returned it to them when he finished. I have to admit, the thought of being given this job myself, terrifies me and I am a little glad I have not been chosen.

Flans discussed the album prior to Circular Karate Chop and joked about how they were still trying to remember songs they had only written a few months ago and only learned after the tour had started. Then he and Linnell had a discussion of the pronunciation of Nanobots. Flans said that he says it "Naanobots" because he isn't English, which Linnell agreed was the pronunciation in Chicago. Flans also went on this weird thing about "Mr. Dijon Mayonnaise" that I didn't entirely get, but I think was just a reference to words said differently in different accents.

Flans said that the new album was action packed with no time for chit chat "unlike our show," then asked Linnell to talk while he did a "personal thing." "I gotta make a couple of calls." Linnell said absolutely, but then said "You're going to call me right? And tell me when your done." Linnell was at bit at a loss about what to say, and just said how excited he was to be there, until he saw someone throw something at someone else. "Please don't throw shit at other people in the crowd. That's the only other thing I was going to say. Unfortunately, I didn't say it in time and a guy just got hit by a cup. Very sorry."

Then Flans told a fantastic story about their recent show in Louisville, KY.

"It was a Tuesday night be we didn't realize that the drinking begins on Thursday and works its way through. There was a lady in the audience, she took a could tell there was like, a situation, because people were kind of stepping away from her through out the entire evening. Her, and I should say, her methy boyfriend."

The crowd made some "ooooo" noises at this.

"Just the facts. No judgement," said Linnell. "It's written on his employment card."

Flans continued, "Hobbies: meth. Special skills: meth. But anyway, right in the middle of the show she took a beer, shook it up really hard and just went phhhhhhssssss." He said this last while miming holding the bottle out and spinning around as if spraying the crowd around him with the bottle. "The people of Louisville would not stand for this. And the security guy appeared instantaneously and went like...*pling*" Flans then mimed picking her up like a crane with his hand. "It was like one of those clamp games, or whatever you call them, and just kind of extracted her. We want to remind everyone to be on their best behavior. Be an example for the people throwing up outside. No bullying. It's all about love in here."

The Avatars seemed a little weak on the jokes tonight. They talked about their new album with Axel Rose again. "There's only two words to describe it. Perfec Tionist." They claimed that one song had taken them three years, but that they still had their cable TV show "with the special effect." I believe they were making a joke out of the fact that the screen was visible on their camera so they were both visible twice. And then they went straight into their song.

More classic robot voice material before Nanobots.

Robot Flans: "I have been given divine insight."

Linnell: "I understand you robotal infallibility."

Flans: "That is correct. Over the past two weeks, members of the crew and the band have been meeting in the back lounge of the bus to decide who will become Pope Robot One. And three days ago, giant clouds of smoke emerged from the back of the touring vehicle and declared me, Robot Flans, Pope Robot One. I have taken the name Pope Robot One in honor of my predecessor, Pope Robot Zero. Who sadly died of too much white smoke. Let that be a lesson kids.

Linnell: "Listen to the robot, people. So what are we gonna do now, Robot? We need your guidance."

Flans: "I don't know. I am slightly exhausted from the show already and I can not longer look at the setlist. I am suffering from metal fatigue. I would like that thank everyone at The Friar's Club for working so hard on my jokes. I don't the email. My wife shows it to me, but I don't understand it. Does this computer have Yahoo? I am suffering from metal fatigue."

Then they started the song. But Flans started singing in a completely different key than the rest of the band was playing and called a halt to the song a few lines in. Even that was funny since he was saying "whoa, whoa, hold up" in the robot voice still. Then he said "I destroyed the song with the notes that I sang. Such is the power of Pope Robot One." Linnell told him that it must have been the song's fault because he had robotal infallibility. And Flans just repeated infallible a few times. That part was probably even funnier than the bit before the song. Then Flans said he had found his note, and they proceeded.

This was certainly, the best band introduction bit I have yet seen. I don't remember if I have said so in the last few recaps, but they have got the drum cam that looks down over Marty's back, that they used briefly in Portland, up and running again for the band intros. The image is displayed on the screen at the back so you can see what it would look like to be standing looking over Marty's shoulder. Well, tonight, Flans went up on the back of the drum riser and stuck his stylophone thing that he uses for the intro, under the camera and played it so it was projected on the screen. Sensing a good thing, Danny then followed suit for his part, hopping up and sticking his bass under the camera while he played. Linnell, unable to bring the keyboard to the camera, but not to be outdone, leaned over and began playing the keyboard WITH HIS HEAD. Repeatedly. Hands never touched it. I just about died laughing. And then Dan went up on the drum riser and stuck his face into the camera so that he was peering out at the audience on the big screen, before leaning the guitar under to play his part. And then finally Marty wrecked so of his best shit for the crowd. It was epic.

Sadly, I remember none of the nicknames that were bestowed on the audience, but there was a hysterical exchange between the Johns. Flans had given Linnell the flashlight to pick out someone for a nickname and Linnell was just waving it around the crowd. He said he was trying to do a Stalag 17 (or possibly some other German prison camp movie, I forget exactly), but Flans told him it looked like Hogan's Heroes. Eventually, Linnell dithered with the flashlight for so long that Flans requested it back. "John, give me back that flashlight. You're not qualified to use it."

Flans had some guitar trouble midway through When Will You Die and ended up leaving the stage. The guitar solo mid way through sounds really strange with just Dan playing it. I don't think he had realized that Flans had left, because he looked around suddenly, I assume when he realized Flans wasn't playing. I think Danny attempted to cover for Flans' absence a bit, but there was one awkward bit of total silence near the end that was clearing missing some guitar part that Flans played. Flans did step back on stage to retrieve the mic at some point, and delivered his "Kid Rock!" line from the wings. The worst of it was he wasn't on stage for the "I'm John and he is also John" lyric. It was a little sad.

This time around, in the second encore, it really was She's An Angel that they played. Flans said congratulations to the couple who had gotten engaged after the song, so I wonder if it was by special request? Then, unfortunately, he had more guitar issues in New York City and gave up on playing it again. As Flans stood mid-stage singing with no guitar, Danny looked at Dan, flicked his eyes over at Flans and then back to Dan. Dan flicked his eyebrows in acknowledgement and in the next guitar section, seamlessly flipped over to playing Flans' part so that it wouldn't be missing. It was a rather cool bit of silent and almost imperceptible communication.

The show may have ended on that bit of weird vibe, but otherwise it was quite solid. Good times Chicago. Good times.

The night's pictures can be found here:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 854

Today's song is...

Stuff Is Way

Huh? I actually really enjoy the percussion on this one, but I just can't get past the complete nonsense of the lyrics. It just sounds like gibberish. I want to like it. I really do. But I just can't figure out why I should. If someone can offer me any insight that would help, I'd gladly accept it. Cause otherwise I am just scratching my head.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Song of the Day - Day 853

Today's song is...


I was very confused about what is going on in this song, until I realized I was mishearing the final word. And then it made a lot more sense. Until I realized that my "correct" lyric was still not what the wiki claims to be the lyric. So I'll put it up for the readers to decide. I originally couldn't tell if the final line was "I'm going downtown to get new stuff" or "you stuff." But then I thought I was totally wrong and it was "to get you stopped." I figured that one made more sense. Dave is getting scammed, but he pulls a fast one on the scammer, running away with the $200 to tattle on the guy who tried to cheat him. But the wiki has the lyric as "to get used up." Which again, doesn't make any sense to me. I know none of these are "official lyrics" since there is no lyric sheet with the album, but what is popular opinion on what people are hearing?

Also, I enjoy this guitar part.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


March 15, 2013 - The Pageant - St. Louis, MO

I have very fond memories of my last visit to The Pageant in 2009, and have, sadly, been unable to return since then. The Pageant shows just haven't aligned with my touring schedule until now. But my memories of the venue did not lie. It is just as awesome as I remember.

The Pageant has an early entry deal where you get in first if you go in through their bar, which opens two hours before doors. So I arrived just as the bar was opening and spent my pre-show time chatting with some other fans who had also been at the Columbia show with me. Hello, new friends! It was wonderful meeting all of you, and I will see ya'll in Kansas City!

One of the things I most remember about The Pageant, is how ridiculously high the stage is. I can just about rest my chin on it while standing next to it. And I ended up in almost exactly the same spot, on the left side, this time as on my last visit. It was nearly perfect, except for the cymbal that obscured Marty's face for the majority of the show.

Moon Hooch skipped the pre-show, on stage meditation this time around. But they still delivered the awesome music. We had a count and determined that they played five songs, though they run right into one another, so you can hardly tell where one stops and another begins. They have the music slightly pumped up through a computer, I think, so you can actually feel the low notes on the sub-contrabass clarinet reverberating under your feet and in your chest. They call what they play "cave music" and I can understand why.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - James K. Polk - Memo To Human Resources - Celebration - Call You Mom - Fingertips - The Guitar - Cloisonné - Drink! - Doctor Worm - The Famous Polka - Circular Karate Chop - They'll Need A Crane - Insect Hosptial - He's Loco - Why Does The Sun Shine? - Nanobots - Damn Good Times - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Withered Hope - Put You Hand Inside The Puppet Head - 123 Band Intro - New York City - Ana Ng - When Will You Die Encore - Tesla - The Mesopotamians - Can't Keep Johnny Down Encore 2 - Whistling In The Dark - Istanbul

After Polk, Flans commented on how much coffee he had had and Linnell said that he had dumped "Splendora" in his coffee by accident. Flans asked him if that was the new music streaming service everyone was talking about. Linnell said yes, but that he wasn't getting paid for the amount of Spendora he was drinking. "How sweet in is," said Flans, in a fake "promoter" voice. Linnell said that he was getting a very small revenue. Flans added, "The sweetness is the gift." Linnell replied, "You better like it because that's all you're getting." Flans joked that they were only two songs in and they were already completely sidetracked. Linnell added that they were bitter and angry. And then Flans finally got them back on track to the next song.

Flans did his usual H-E-A-R-T to you girl ad lib during I'm Having A Heart Attack. He started kneeling on one knee in front of me (or just slightly to the left) and then went down on all fours to deliver the end at eye level with the crowd, to some person just to my left. He was pretty literally in my face. Talk about up close and personal.

The extreme stage hight meant that anyone playing in front of me was towing over me. Most notably, Danny when he was doing the bass solo on The Guitar because he came so close to the edge of the stage. I had to tilt my head all the way back to see anything more than his crazy plaid pants that he had on again. Kind of intense. Linnell did it with the accordion a little, and Flans came over a few times but I don't think anyone else was quite as close, with their shoes by my nose. Also of note, said bass solo was one of the best Guitar bass solos I have ever seen.

Introducing the bass clarinet on Cloisonné, Flans said it was made out of dark chocolate especially for them. That it was totally silent but looked great. Then Flans commented that he was not emotionally prepared for the song and asked the guys to remind him not to put the song where he has to concentrate on singing right after the one where he was jumping up and down. Linnell told him to rap for a bit, but he said it in the mic on the clarinet. He and Flans had a conversation about how weird the vocal sounded in that mic and Linnell said he felt like he was in a Eugene Chadbourne film. Flans noted that they needed to do more parts of the show talking in the clarinet mic.

Flans had some more amusing lines when delivering the call back instructions on Drink! He was comparing the performance of the balcony to that of the floor, calling one the "makers of sound" and the other the "takers of sound." He also used his "monster voice" again to demonstrate the audience's part. Afterward he commented on how loud the call backs had been in the last chorus and that we had given him a heart attack.

Somewhere in the middle of Doctor Worm, Dan looked over at the drum riser, which was fairly short, and then looked at Danny and mouthed "big jump." I continue to be amused by Dan's enthusiasm for Danny's jumping. And it was a pretty big jump :-)

I am not entirely sure I had ever noticed before, the crazy piano playing that Dan does during The Famous Polka. I feel like I should have given then every one in the band takes turns on a kind of crazy solo, but I think I kind of always missed Dan's part because Flans is playing at the same time. Either that or I had just forgotten about it. Regardless, it was cool and I was impressed.

Prior to starting Circular Karate Chop, Flans discussed their new album and said that the first song they played was off of it, then turned to the guys to confirm that that was the only song they had played off of it so far. Danny leaned over to see Linnell's setlist and pointed out that Call You Mom was also on the album, which Linnell voiced and then thanked Danny. "We can't remember what we just did," said Linnell.

The Avatars did their "live from London" routine again, starting with this quote from Blue: "Like waking the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Pageant is alive!" He also noted, after observing that his puppet head was oddly positioned on its hand, "Somewhere in the night, I've developed Bell's Palsy. That ain't right." The Avatars once again claimed to be working on a new album with Axel Rose, whom they said was a perfectionist. Blue said it had taken nine months to do one song but that every note was precious. And then Green interrupted, shoving his eyeball in the screen and declaring "I see you!" They did a little more schtick pretending the sound was out of sync before they did He's Loco too.

During Why Does The Sun Shine? Flans for some reason defaulted the first of the spoken parts to Linnell, but took over for the later ones. The nuclear reactions on the sun were caused by Cicero's, PointFest, Mississippi Night and The Pageant.

Flansburgh's robot voiced banter was once again a highlight for me.

Flans (in robot voice): "Over the last seven days members of the band and crew have been meeting in the back lounge of the bus to decide who will become Pope Robot One. Finally enormous white clouds of smoke emerged from the back lounge, declaring that Flansburgh would be the new Pope Robot One. It is my honor to take on this responsibility in the show. *pause* I don't know what else to say, John, but this is fun. I can't make my voice stop talking like this."

Linnell: "We should point out that the old Pope Robot One was suffering from metal fatigue."

Flans: "It was very sad."

Linnell: "He retired early."

Flans: "Everyone agreed he had to go. But I am ready to take on this responsibility. We have a brand new album out. All the songs sound like this. Needless to say, it isn't not going well.

Flans then checked with Linnell on what key he sang in on the song.

Linnell: "That's correct, Robot Flansburgh."

Flans: "Thank you. I am a machine. I am infallible. I have a computer brain. Alright, I'm ready now. Let me walk back to my cheat sheet." *Accidental twang from the guitar* "Pardon me. Infallible."

This last garnered loud cheers from the crowd. Flansburgh then proceeded to mess up a bunch of his backing vocals in the song, singing several lines in the wrong order, much to my amusement.

Before Puppet Head, Flans asked Danny to play him an F, which he did. Then Danny looked quizzically at the setlist and turned back to Flans. "But the song is in E," said Danny. Flans either didn't hear him or didn't believe him, because he had to repeat it. Then he played Flans an E instead. I giggled.

The Johns did a big thank you near the end, which involved a humorous thanking of both the balcony and the floor. Sadly, my note on this just said "balcony/floor" and I don't remember what was funny about it. Perhaps I will remember later. They also discussed how much they enjoy playing at The Pageant. And during a round of thanking the band, Flans said something about Danny indicating how good he was, to which Linnell replied, "Danny, why must you torture us?!"

The only one of the nicknames they bestowed that I remember was Tango and Cash and they noted that it was odd that he had two nicknames. And the reference came back at the following night's show in the Avatar segment.

I could have sworn that Linnell was starting She's An Angel, when they were actually beginning Whistling In The Dark at the end. I don't know if I was just hearing things, or he really did play some of those chords. I was surprised, though not displeased, to see Dan return to his acoustic for the Istanbul intro this time. I've kind of missed it.

Something at the back of my mind is telling me that I am forgetting about some other funny thing that happened near the end. If I remember what it was, I'll add it later. Flans noted on Twitter later what a good show this was and I have to agree. It was just a really solid, tight show with good energy and good setlist.

Pictures from the show are on Flickr. Not quite as many this time, mostly due to the height of the stage putting me at an awkward angle with the lights.

Song of the Day - Day 852

Today's song is...

The Darlings Of Lumberland

From early comments made about album 16, when it was still in production, this was the song I was most intrigued to hear. The comments Flans made about it made it sound really interesting. And it is. But not quite in the way I expected. I found the lyrics to be not at all what I expected, and I am not entirely enamored of them. I tend to shy away from the really creepy, grim stuff. On the other hand, the horn arrangement on this song is fricking phenomenal. Totally exceeded expectations. So many interwoven sounds and textures, and the variety of instruments, never quite completely blending together. I feel like every time I listen to it, I hear something new in the horn part, form the very high flute, down to the very low clarinet. Between this and Cloisonné, I believe Stan Harrison has proved himself to be a master at composing unique and engaging horn parts. I was so pleased to see the band gave him a writing credit on this one. It was highly deserved.