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:

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