November 25th, 2007

tmbg

Triangle Man hates Butterfly of Love

After work yesterday, I met up with bethje to go to the They Might Be Giants concert at the TLA (now officially known as "The Fillmore at the TLA," and to be known in the future as "The Glorious People's Democratic Republic of the Fillmore at the TLA"). We got there pretty early, and waited in line for a while. There were signs announcing that TMBG would be playing two sets, which confused me at first. All it meant, though, was that they did a set as a regular five-piece band, then came back after an intermission of about twenty minutes with three horn players for a second set. It ended up being pretty long as far as TMBG shows go. They mentioned that this would be the last show they'd be doing this year, aside from one on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I've heard a few other bands also mention that Philadelphia was the last show they'd play for a while, or at least the last they'd do with a specific opener. And yet it was where the American democracy BEGAN. How ironic!

The current opening act that was ending their tenure with TMBG in the City of Brotherly Love was an Irish duo called Oppenheimer (or, as the marquee called them, "Oppenhiemer"). The singer had a pretty strong accent when he talked, but he sang in a digitally distorted voice that was kind of high-pitched and whiny, and not particularly Irish-sounding. They didn't really interest me. Not terrible or anything, but quite forgettable.

TMBG started their first set with "The Cap'm," but the show as a whole was much less Else-heavy than I expected. Sure, they did six songs from it, but the last time we saw them they came close to playing the whole thing. Definitely not "Feign Amnesia," and possibly not "With The Dark" (which they DID do at last night's show), but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing all of the others. There wasn't anything surprising early on in the set, although it's worth noting that the heat and light of the Sun come from the nuclear reactions between Camden, Trenton, Philadelphia, and the Cheesequake exit. The first unusual number (well, unusual as far as TMBG shows in general go; I understand they've been playing it quite a lot on this particular tour) was "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head," which I don't think I'd ever seen performed live before. It included the "memo to myself" bit from the album version, instead of the "awesome guitar solo" that they'd used in earlier performances of the song. Afterwards, John Flansburgh told a story about the first time they played at the TLA, and how they'd gotten a lousy PA system that was usually used for lectures. Later in the set was "It's Not My Birthday," my own personal favorite TMBG song, so that was cool. It wasn't the first concert I'd been to where they played that one, but it's still pretty rare. They followed "Birthday" with "Particle Man," which wasn't at all unusual or unexpected, but DID include the "Elusive Butterfly Of Love" bit before the last verse, which mentioned that Triangle Man hates the Butterfly of Love. Man, is there anything that three-sided jerk DOESN'T hate? The five-piece set ended with "The Mesopotamians," and then everyone left the stage for intermission.

The horn set started with the TLA Venue Song, complete with dancing roadies in creepy Eurotrash bodysuits. Other highlights of this second set included "Mr. Me," "Purple Toupee," "Whistling In The Dark" (with Flans on marching bass drum), and "Museum Of Idiots." The lowlight was "Spy," which I've pretty much come to accept is really for the band, not the audience. You'd think they'd be able to get all that noodling-around stuff out of their systems at soundcheck, but whatever. There are only so many ways I can say certain songs last way too long in their live incarnations before I just start sounding whiny and repetitive. I probably passed that point ten concert reviews ago. Overall, though, it was a fun show, and included enough rarely-played songs as to be worthwhile for someone who'd seen the band over twenty times before. I think I'd be all right if I didn't see another TMBG concert for another year or so, but I'll probably keep going to nearby shows if Beth wants to. Oh, and while I was there, I picked up a Mesopotamians T-shirt, which is one of the better new ones they've put out in some time. They gave me a free foam hand with my purchase, because you can never have enough of those, right? I only have two, but I'm guessing there are some frequent concert-goers who need to devote entire rooms of their houses to those things.

We took the bus back home, and I proceeded to get nowhere near enough sleep, considering that work started at 10 AM today. And this morning, I found out I had misplaced a bus ticket. I guess I must have dropped it when getting one of my others out. That's pretty annoying, considering that they cost almost $5 each. Won't it be great when they start doing everything based on retina scans, and we no longer have to carry around so many little pieces of paper? Even better will be when they invent teleportation chambers, eliminating the need for buses altogether. Of course, there's always the chance one of them will malfunction and send your body to a Turkish prison and your head to the gates of some city where they hang disembodied heads to scare off potential invaders, but it'll be worth it for all the time it'll save!
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