Friday, March 15, 2013

I Think We're All In For Some Groovy Weather

March 14, 2013 - Columbia, MO - The Blue Note

Can't lie, my tour route decisions this trip were heavily influenced by my desire to attend this show so I could see the Columbia venue song performed live. And thus this was my return point to the tour after two days and something like 22 hours of cross country driving. Totally worth it.

My first sight at the venue was one of the guys from Moon Hooch jumping rope and doing yoga behind the venue. After some consternation over parking, (during which I saw Dan wandering around the sidewalk, either searching for a better cell signal or giving someone a video tour of the area around the venue), I ended up fourth in line and spend a pleasant hour chatting with some other fans.

Once inside, I took up a position on the right, since I was on the left at my last two shows. The crowd was surprisingly thin. Even by the time the show started, there weren't as many people there as I would have expected.

About ten minutes to eight, all three of the Moon Hooch guys came on stage, took off their shoes and sat down and began to meditate. They remained like that for nearly 20 minutes, all sitting cross legged on the stage with their eyes closed, and I was somewhat curious when they would know that it was time to start the show. But someone gave them a signal over the PA. And they proceeded to play about 30 minutes of their "cave music." It was just as good as it was on New Year's Eve and they played some different songs. I had read about this big tube thing that one of the sax guys sticks into his horn to get a different sound, and I got to see it in action. It makes a very interesting and very low sound. I was also fascinated by the drummer, who kept adjusting things on his drums to repurpose different parts. Like he unscrewed the top of the high hat to use it as a single cymbal. And took the cowbell off its stand to use it in his hand. Very interesting. After their set, they were asking for a place to sleep, so I hope some nice fan took them home.

TMBG setlist: You're On Fire - When Will You Die - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Withered Hope - Nanobots - Memo To Human Resources - Celebration - Fingertips - Columbia - Cloisonné - Drink! - Turn Around - Puppet Head - Famous Polka - The Guitar - Damn Good Times - Battle for the Planet of the Apes - Lost My Mind - Insect Hospital - He's Loco - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - They'll Need A Crane - S-E-X-X-Y - Tesla - Ana Ng - 123 Band Intro - Call You Mom Encore - Whistling In The Dark - Circular Karate Chop - The Mesopotamians Encore 2 - Istanbul

After the first song, Flans noted that there were people holding up a giant sign but he couldn't understand what it said. Linnell noted that he could read it but still didn't understand it. Flans said at the previous night's show there was someone holding up a sign that was just a blank white card. And then on the other side it said "psych." The fan with the sign attempted to explain what it said to the Johns; it was something about Pi Day and someone's birthday and her name being a palindrome. Flans said "no buzz marketing during the shows." Then told us how fantastic the wifi next door was.

They broke out the strobe lights in a big way for Withered Hope and I gotta say, they looked really cool. I highly recommend watching Marty during a strobe light show. It is mind bending. And hopefully not seizure inducing for anyone. Also, there was an on stage collision during the song. Flans backed right into Danny, just as Danny was starting the first bass feature. Danny tried to get out of the way but he was already backed into the amps and didn't have anywhere else to go and had needed to be in that spot to change a pedal. So bump. And not a beat was missed.

Flans put on his robot voice effect for Nanobots. Linnell asked "Robot Flansburgh" what he had done with the real Flansburgh. "I've got him right here in this suitcase, with The Avatars of They," replied Robot Flans. He dropped his voice down on the last word too, making it sound extra amusing. Linnell asking Robot Flans what they were going to do next. Flans said they were going to do exactly what he commanded them to do. "No back talk. No sassing. I can turn this show around at any time." Linnell commented on the new robot dominated show they now had. Flans said, "Just a few days ago white smoke was coming out of the tour bus and I was announced Robot One. Of course there was Robot Zero but he retired." Linnell said, yes, when the black smoke had come out. Flans said the black smoke came out of his ears and that was the end of Robot One (except he meant Zero). Flans then said that they had a new album out that was not at all robot themed in any way. He said even the song Nanobots was not even really about robots, "we just like talking through this thing because its different than the other stuff we do."

Dan made a seriously amusing face during Memo to Human Resources. I think it was a reaction to something not being played right maybe? Or maybe he was just making a face, but it was really adorable.

Flans seemed to add in the venue song almost as an after thought. He asked Linnell if he wanted to play it. I don't know if it was actually on the setlist for that point or not. They commented that this was the 12th time they had played at The Blue Note. Flans said that under an agreement with JD Power and some other company, they kept the song under wraps everywhere except The Blue Note and they would be using all their cognitive skills to remember every portion of the song. Linnell said the song had been "air cured." Flans added that the song was very tender and that they might start crying during the song. Hearing the song was totally worth the trip, even if Linnell didn't get the words right. He just kept doing the lyric "sugary rainbow" over and over instead of "sugary sunshine" and "cinnamon rainbow." He commented afterwards that the words didn't have to be exact. And Flans made a joke that I was really disappointed that I didn't record when I was recording the song, and have now completely forgotten what it was. Booo.

Flans introduced the bass clarinet as being the instrument you used when the regular clarinet just didn't go low enough for you.

Flans gave us some entertaining instructions for Drink. First, he demonstrated using a "monster voice" for the audience part. He had the balcony sound check first and criticized their delivery and pitted the floor against the balcony in proper call back. He also said we needed to shout "drink, drink" every time we heard him say "drink" no matter how quiet they played the song. There was also a brief funny moment before they started, when Dan thought they were playing Turn Around and started to leave the stage, but then had to go back when he realized he got the setlist wrong.

Flans had Danny do an extra long bass solo during The Guitar and part way through told the crowd "If you like Danny say 'yesssssssss.'" I didn't hear anyone say it. Flans tried again. "If you love Danny, say 'yessssssss.'" Lots of people picked up on it that time and it sounded like a room full of snakes.

Flans gave typical instructions on the ape battle, teasing some people in the balcony for remaining seated. He also told the people at the bar that they could do whatever the fuck they wanted. And he made his instructions very clear this time. This was a competition. There was no other purpose. "People, when the apes are chanting, you shut the fuck up. Apes, when the people are chanting, you shut the fuck up." And though it was a fierce battle, the people won, as they tend to do.

The Avatars were appearing via satellite from London. They pretended to be having issues with their feed that made the sound go out of sync and started moving their mouths out of sync with their voices. And then the "sound" went out all together and you could see their mouths moving but couldn't hear anything. And the camera cut suddenly to the audience. And then suddenly, they were back, apologizing for having technical difficulties. Very funny guys.

The Supreme Court made an appearance, featuring Antonin Scalia (except they said Anthony). Scalia told the Avatars that they rock and that they were better than They Might Be Giants. Blue told him he would blush if he wasn't already blue. "In a nine to zero decision, we decide you guys rock," said Scalia. Green told them to get the hell out. Blue said, "that's judicial advocacy." Green told them to "shut the fuck up." And then they shoed the court off the stage. "Anthony Scalia, in association with Anthony Scalia Productions!" announced Blue.

Then the puppets claimed that they were working on a new album with Axel Rose but they wouldn't be releasing it until it was perfect. Blue started making what I think was supposed to be an Axel scream/singing impersonation, but then busted into a little bit of Live and Let Die. Green told him he sounded like a chimp. Which was followed by some chimp noises. Green suggested they perform a song from their new album. "The Spaghetti Incident?" asked Blue. "I don't know...question mark?" said Green, clearly not getting the joke. And then they did He's Loco.

Throughout this entire appearance, I was less watching the Avatars and more watching Danny, who had sat down on the side of the drum riser when the Avatars went on, and had picked up the spare pair of drum sticks Marty had given him for the ape battle. Throughout most of the Avatar routine, he sat, rapping out a drum rhythm on the sides of his right shoe. I found it pretty entertaining.

It was good to see Judy back in the setlist again, and kind of crazy to see Marty doing two songs were he explodes all over the kit in such a short time frame, given that Call You Mom was just a few songs later.

This was my first time getting to hear Tesla live. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if a couple of drunk girls hadn't pushed up behind me at that point and then proceeded to have a loud conversation throughout the song. Really sort of spoiled the setting for such a quiet song.

During the 123 Intro, Linnell, Danny and Dan all played some very goofy music for their parts. Linnell used some amusing sound effect for his. Danny played more of what sounds like Super Mario Brothers underground music, which I have heard him play before. And Dan played some stellar country licks.

Near the end, the Johns talked about how much they enjoyed Columbia but that every time they come, every landmark seems to have been moved to another location. Linnell mentioned a place called Ernie's where they like to eat breakfast. And Flans told a story about a visit to Columbia many years ago when they were there for two days. And after the first day, they were talking about what a nice college town it was. And then they got up the next day to find that all the one way streets in the center of town had switched directions in the night. And they were totally freaked out.

For the second encore, Dan came out alone to play the intro to Istanbul, with the rest of the band joining him later. He did it on electric guitar, rather than acoustic, and with heavy use of the wah-wah pedal. At the end of the intro he pedaled the guitar up to truly ear splitting pitches, before finally starting the main portion of the song. I am still not sure my ears have entirely recovered.

After the show, Marty came out to hand out stickers, but first pointed at me in a "hey, it's you" sort of way, and gave me a high five. And Danny came over and shook my hand and thanked me for coming. He also commented on what a long way I had driven. And I said something stupid about how I was continuing on, indicating that I hadn't just driven out for the one show. When what I really should have said was "Totally worth it." I always think of the right response after it is too late. Must get better at that.

Couldn't really have asked for a better "return to tour" show though. Definitely a fun night.

I can't easily insert pictures when I am recapping from the road, but all the pictures from this show are available here:


  1. "And Flans made a joke that I was really disappointed that I didn't record when I was recording the song, and have now completely forgotten what it was."

    Are you thinking of Flans' improvised lyrics? "It's a sugarplum...Jesus Christ...Batman..."