Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Catch And Release

December 29, 2012 - Music Hall Of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY

The theme of all of my pre-show experiences lately has been freezing cold. And often also, bad weather. Kathy and I drove into Brooklyn in the snow. Which later turned into a light drizzle and overall made the wait rather unpleasant.

Aside from the bitter cold, which froze my toes straight through, the most entertaining part of being outside the Music Hall everyday was watching all the members of the band attempt to park. I admit that the pre-show events of the three days have become a bit blurred together in my mind but my favorite of the parking stories was either from day one or two. Scott had earlier come outside the venue, talking to a member of staff about the possibility of reserving parking for the members of the band. The only result of this we saw, was that a member of staff placed one metal barrier in a spot that opened up across the street. A while later, Danny pulled up to the curb, double parked, and hopped out. Mistaking him for a member of venue staff, he asked my friend, Jim, if it was okay for him to move the barrier and park in the spot. Jim followed along beautifully, not only giving him permission but crossing the street to help him move the barrier out of the way. And I don't believe Danny was ever the wiser that Jim didn't actually work for the venue.

This venue followed this bizarre procedure each night to get the line inside some metal barriers on the sidewalk. For hours we waited outside cage-free, until about an hour of so before the show. Then staff came out and had everyone move to the curb while they laid out two lines of crowd barriers. But instead of putting up the inner row, then moving us in and laying the outer row around us, they put up both and then had us snake down to the end and into the corral. It seemed like the most ridiculous and inefficient way of arranging things. And I actually missed it the first night because I was getting something from my car, and then had to worm my way back to my spot in line through the barrier.

My timing was just generally off at this show, as I also managed to be in the bathroom when they allowed us entry to the stage. They had let us into a bar area where the bathrooms and coatcheck were and stopped us at the door. I foolishly thought I would have enough time to use the restroom, but came out to find the line already gone inside. As such my spot for the first night was in the second row, and that was only thanks to Kathy saving me some room.

Corn Mo was the opener at the first show. As I believe I have previously stated, I am not an enormous fan. And this particular performance stressed me out to no end. He significantly over-ran his time and was either oblivious to or ignored all the signals being sent to him to wrap it up. Scott was flashing flashlights. The stage crew were waving at him. As it turned out, he had brought a special guest accordionist with him to perform a song. Which was lovely. But by that point he was nearly 15 minutes over his allotted time. A member of the crew was a bit harsh with finally informing him that time was up but personally, I could understand the frustration. There are times when my tendency to watch what is going on behind the scenes as well as on stage, disrupts my ability to enjoy what is going on in the show and this was one of them.

Corn Mo 12/29/12 #1

TMBG setlist: Twisting - Theme From Flood - Call You Mom - Damn Good Times - Lost My Mind - They'll Need A Crane - Circular Karate Chop - When Will You Die - Your Racist Friend - Pencil Rain - Istanbul - Doctor Worm - Nanobots - Particle Man - Stand On Your Own Head - Snowball in Hell - Lucky Ball and Chain - We Want A Rock - Santa's Beard - Kiss Me Son Of God - Dr. Evil - Birdhouse In Your Soul - 123 Band Intro - Hey, Mr. DJ Encore - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Shoehorn With Teeth - Museum of Idiots - Clap Your Hands Encore 2 - The Mesopotamians - Dead - Mr. Me

They kicked things off with Twisting which is a song I am a bit indifferent to, but is pretty rocking live. Then after some greetings, Linnell announced that the next song was about ESP. Except is was actually the Theme From Flood so I am not sure exactly what he was talking about.

TMBG 12/29/12 #3

Then they brought the horns out for Call You Mom. Hot damn, is that song awesome live. It's loud and brassy and Marty just goes insane on the drums. Soooo much fun. Linnell briefly screwed up the lyrics but who cares!

Then Damn Good Times featuring the requisite Miller guitar solo. Dan kept howling like a wolf at various points in the show and I am not entirely sure why. That is usually something reserved for the Wolf Den but it was funny.

TMBG 12/29/12 #2

Lost My Mind was preceded by some of my favorite banter of the evening. Flans asked Linnell how his Christmas was and if he had gotten everything he wanted from Santa. Linnell said yes, and that he had gotten a telescope. There was lots of wooooing from the crowd. Linnell said that the crowd's response actually sounded sincere. Flans commented that he thought this was probably a telescope kind of crowd and then in his best "rocker" voice: "Does anybody here like telescopes?!" Linnell commented that they would have to test the response of the "woo-meter." Then he realized he should ask Flans if he had gotten anything good for Christmas and Flans said he got nothing.

Linnell then told us that the next song was another new song and that it was still in its cage. He explained that they have a "catch and release" program for their songs and that this one was not yet ready to be out in the wild because it would starve.

Flans pointed out that the song on the setlist was labeled as Lost and that it was bad enough that they had another song called Lost but that is also sounded like an emotional suggesiton rather than a note about the song. He also told a story I have heard before, about doing an interview with someone in Lancaster who was so disturbed to learn that they used a setlist that it seemed like it made them not like the band anymore.

Linnell said that the great thing about the new songs was that they were going to be screwing them up massively but they assumed no one off the stage could tell. He and Flans then joked that it was a good thing that there wasn't a "you-tubey" type thing that allowed people to view events that had just happened. Linnell said that when that happened they would quit show business. (Good thing that DOES actually exist or I might have forgotten about their conversation about it.)

Just before they started Lost My Mind, Flans tested his note in the mic and then declared proudly, "I got my note."

I had a really hard time hearing the lyrics to this one the first time because they were overpowered by the music. I find I like it better now that I know what they are. After they were done, Flans lamented that they would never again be able to play the song with that level of anxiety.

Then another round of They'll Need A Crane. I once believed that I would probably never see this song live. Now, I am rather surprised at just how many times I have seen it.

TMBG 12/29/12 #25

Before they started Circular Karate Chop, Linnell announced that they were going to play another new song, "because we're so brave." He said it in a cute, funny little voice that I quite enjoyed. Flans had to verify the key and who started the song before they began playing. My favorite part, was the spoken bridge that Flans performed, reading from some note, that were "3 rules from your sensei." Flans read them in such a funny voice and with such drama that they sounded even more ridiculous. I think Flans also screwed up some of the lyrics to this song, though we wouldn't have known it at the time.

TMBG 12/29/12 #14

There was another run of songs featuring the horns. Including a nice horn introduction to Istanbul. And Danny, clad in the traditional red pants, did a spread legged split in the air on his Doctor Worm leap. He was also sporting a shiny new blue Fender bass that was very snazzy.

TMBG 12/29/12 #20

The introduction to Nanobots featured Flans demonstrating a new special robot voice effect they had acquired for the song. The dialogue between him and Linnell was hilarious with Flans in robot mode and went like this.

Linnell: "We got a special effect, we paid like $25..."

Flans: *testing the first word of the song* "Grow"

Linnell: "..for that."

Flans: "People usually pay extra for this shit. This shit costs extra normally, but you gettin' this shit for free."

Linnell: "We looked in our holiday budget. 'Oh, we got an extra $25.'"

Flans: "Let's give something back. To the kids. John said no, but I said yes."

Linnell: "I'm still a little..."

Flans: "Not that John. Different John. The John that's talking inside my head."

Linnell: "The low voiced John said no."

Flans: "Yeah."

Linnell: "But they both talk at once so you can't tell which one is..."

Flans: "It's tricky."

Not counting Call You Mom, which I had already heard, Nanobots was my favorite of the new songs they premiered. It is insanely catchy. And was stuck in my head for the remainder of the weekend which can drive you nuts when you don't know all the lyrics.

Before Stand On Your Own Head, Flans explained that they were playing side one of Flood and the controversial side two of Lincoln. Linnell joked that if you turned your mp3 over there were more songs on the other side. Flans added that there were songs by other bands on the other side. Then Flans went off on how odd it was that the people labeling songs on Napster attributed songs to them that were not actually by them. So that now millions of people think they wrote 88 Songs About 44 Women. He also noted Fish Heads, which he said was especially weird since
they remembered watching it on Dr. Demento when they were about 10. He said it was the equivalent of saying they wrote Monster Mash. And then they did Stand On Your Own Head again and I once again got to be wowed by Dan's guitar part, though, disappointingly, I couldn't see him while he played it.

On the Snowball in Hell bridge, Joe asked Paul if he was actually Paul McCartney. Paul remained oddly silent for a long while after that forcing Joe to riff for a while on his own. Joe said he didn't think he was didn't think he was doing "Paul McCartney in Wings good" but he thought he was doing Ringo good. Paul seemed very upset by the suggestion that he was "back" on the time is money kick and made a big deal of the word back before finally declaring he was "still on it" in the lowest most menacing voice a puppet can produce.

TMBG 12/29/12 #26

Flans messed up the beginning of Lucky Ball and Chain and made everyone stop. He turned to Marty and said "Isn't it five?" referring to the number of beats that start the song. Marty didn't reply, but instead started to subtly scratch the side of his face with three fingers, indicating that no, it was only three beats. I found this incredibly funny and so very, very Marty. With Flans corrected, they started again.

TMBG 12/29/12 #12

Robin came out to join the band for Dr. Evil. She joked with Dan Miller that they were wearing the same hat, as she was wearing a big furry gray hat and Dan had his grey winter hat on. She also tried to lower the mic stand but wasn't successful. Flans moved to help her but she said no, she's just be tall. She said that among her New Year's resolutions were to get stronger hands, to get revenge on her enemies and smite them and to wear more hats. Flans teased her and Dan about not coordinating their outfits better and said that wearing the same hat was a big rock faux pas. Robin claimed her had was borrowed...from a Rockerfeller. And Flans said, "yeah, J. Phony Rockerfeller" which made Robin laugh. Then she added that her additional resolution was to be more evil and they started the song. This is another one for the category of " didn't think I would ever hear it live and am now surprised by how many times I have heard it."

They did Birdhouse (yay!) and the 123 band intro. Linnell stood right over me, demonstrating the clapping with his arms outstretched and elbows unbent. It's adorable. Then they closed the set with Hey, Mr. DJ which we had heard them soundchecking earlier. Love that song. Love, love, love that song.

TMBG 12/29/12 #39

TMBG 12/29/12 #40

They returned for the first encore with another new song, Insect Hospital. This one is even more ear worm inducing than Nanobots as it is just the same lyric over and over. And since the end is just a big rocking guitar solo, it is the perfect intro song for the Avatars because the Johns can walk away and put on the puppets while the band riffs. Flans knocked over on of the horn music stands on his way to the camera and briefly attempted to stop and pick everything up but gave up, realizing, I think, that it would take too long.

The Avatars declared that there were more professional shows in Williamsburg tonight. I believe as a reference to Flans knocking over the music. Then they announced they while they liked They Might Be Giants, they preferred their own music and did their first live performance of He's Loco, with Dan accompanying them on guitar. It even featured a little add on at the end about how Green had watched his Wild Wild West DVD the previous night and how the movie had spiders. And also how great Artemis Johnson was. Then they invited Dan Levine back to the stage on the euphonium. Blue pointed out that he had "personally, professionally prepared the stage by pushing all of the sheet music onto the floor." Dan waved his thanks as if this was actually a very helpful thing, and I gave him great props for playing along. Then they did Shoehorn complete with Marty and his bell.

TMBG 12/29/12 #44
(Note: I think Marty had actually managed to bite his lip until it started to bleed which is why it looks like he is wearing lipstick in this picture.)

As the rest of the horns returned for Museum of Idiots, Flans told them he didn't know what to say about the sheet music except he was sorry. Curt pretended to make a big deal out of it, looking down and declaring "Oh my god!" in a very overly dramatic way, as if there were carnage on the floor. This also made me laugh a lot. Horns are the best.

TMBG 12/29/12 #50

And they closed the first encore with Clap Your Hands. I will never understand playing that song and then leaving the stage, but it isn't my setlist.

The Johns said that being back in this neighborhood was very nostalgic for them as they used to live here. And then they commented on the parking, which I found funny given the struggles we observed them having trying to park. Linnell claimed that The Mesopotamians was about that time. I was very glad that they did not actually end the show on Dead, but instead brought the horns back for a rousing rendition of Mr. Me. Much more lively.

TMBG 12/29/12 #48

After the show, a huge gang of us went to The Meatball Shop for a late night dinner and few blocks away and I had the most delicious broccoli I had ever had. I would not shut up about that broccoli for the rest of the weekend. We even went back the next night and I had more. Yum. and then finally back to our hotel in Queens to rest up and prepare for round two.

TMBG 12/29/12 #24

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TMBG 12/29/12 #41

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