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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mynameisbluecanary/sets/72157633019979489/

No comments:

Post a Comment