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.

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