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Sean's Blog

Festival and Frigidity

A few weeks ago I biked up to Greenfield, MA to check out the Brick and Mortar Video Art Festival.  It was a one-day presentation of many video installations at 5 different buildings in town, all 5 of which were in at least partial need of renovation.  I had not heard of the festival before, but this seems to have been its second year.

It started in the mid-afternoon and ran through late evening.  I headed out close to 1:00 and got to Greenfield around 2:45, passing through Sunderland and Deerfield on the way.  In Deerfield, I passed right by the Mt. Sugarloaf reservation, and took some pics of the side of the peaks (with some Fall colors):

Once I arrived, I looked for some lunch before going to any of the exhibit spaces.  I ended up eating at the cafe in Greenfield’s Market, which is the natural food co-op there.

From there, the first building I went to was the Pushkin gallery, which is in an old bank building:

There were videos showing in a few spots in the building, including in the old vault:

The second building I went to was also an old bank:

Inside its cavernous space was the largest video projection of the whole show:

That image was at least one story tall.

It was an interesting way to see videos, in spaces that were partially restored, or full of bare studs, or just dilapidated.  Some were projected on walls, some showed on small lcd monitors, and a few were on good old honking CRT monitors on A/V carts.  The quality varied, and I think I found about half of the videos interesting in some way.  They were all fairly short, so if I missed the beginning, I could just wait until it repeated.  One that I found fairly captivating was also one of the simplest – it was just a real-time, extreme closeup, single take of a snail crossing a space of 6 inches or so.  Of course, it helps that I like snails.

Once I’d seen everything, it was starting to get dark, so I set out for home.  I had lights with me, so I was prepared for the darkness.  Unfortunately, I had somehow thought I’d be leaving sooner, so I hadn’t dressed as warmly as I should have – just 2 not-very-thick layers on top, only 1 layer on my legs (with shorts underneath), no hat under my helmet, and no gloves.  It got quite cold as I rode back (down to the upper 40’s, if not lower).  I took a slightly different route back, crossing the Connecticut River and heading South through the towns of Montague, Leverett, and Amherst.  It took about 2 hours in that direction, but though it was cold, I still mostly enjoyed the stillness of the night, and the excellent view of the stars.

It’s good I wasn’t out much longer, though.  By the time I arrived home, it was cold enough that my hands were getting numb.  The total distance I covered was more than in the organized ride I did the previous weekend – about 47 miles.

Posted by seaking on 11-08-2010 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking, Video with 0 Comments

Monkey Men All

I got a chance this summer to do something I had been wanting to do for 2 decades – go see DEVO perform in concert.  They’ve always been one of my favorite bands, and I heard early in the year that they’d be releasing a new album and touring, so I was on the lookout.  They didn’t end up playing any dates in New England, but they did come to the Albany area, which is only 2 hours drive from where I live, so I jumped at the chance to pay an inflated ticket price (plus nearly another 25% in fees to TicketBastard).

Fortunately, the show was on a Saturday night, so I drove out there in the afternoon and got some dinner before heading to the venue.  They played at a large club called Northern Lights, in the suburb of Clifton Park.  The place is in a strip mall – here are some pictures of it that I took after the show:

I had arrived there at 6:30 (while it was still light out), and got in line outside, as the doors wouldn’t open until 7:00.  While waiting, I had to get a picture of this guy who was just a bit behind me in line:

He had an energy dome logo on the hat, as well as heavy, “Oh No, It’s DEVO” eyebrows on his glasses.  Fun!

I got inside pretty quickly, and immediately made my way to the stage.  This was a rare opportunity, and I wanted to be right up close.  Fortunately, I was early enough to get a spot right in front of the stage, or as close as possible anyway, as there was a barrier between the stage and audience, creating a narrow area for photo and video people to do their thing during the concert.

I had thought that the band was going to take the stage at 8:00, but it turned out that they weren’t going on until 9:00, so I had 2 hours to stand and wait (spoiler: it was worth it).  I talked a bit to some other fans nearby me, and got a pictures of things like this equipment case:

Also, the stage was located in a back corner of the club’s one huge room.  Just over to the right of the stage was the back door of the building, which was being used as a stage door, with the band getting ready in their tour bus outside:

At one point, a car pulled up next to the bus out there, and out of the car emerged the brothers Mothersbaugh.  Mark headed into the bus, but Bob1 initially walked into the building, and he was immediately greeted by a fan yelling, “BOB!” with a bunch of cheering from the rest of us.  He laughed and went back outside (unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to snap a picture at that moment).

One interesting feature of the stage was the background screen.  They had a video screen actually made up of a bunch of large LEDs.  They were difficult to photograph when off, but here’s a close-up of a small portion of the screen:

They did take the stage at 9:00 sharp, with intro music and video playing:

The band were initially wearing their new light gray outfits with masks.  I had seen pictures of the outfits before coming to the show, but I didn’t know that the suits were highly reflective, so when you take a flash picture of the band, they glow:

Here’s a picture without the flash:

I captured a picture of the setlist before the show, though my view of the first few songs was blocked:

Once they played the first 3 songs, they caught up to where I could see the list.  Here’s all of the songs they did, in order (the first, third, and fifth are from the new album, Something for Everybody):

  • Don’t Shoot, I’m a Man
  • Peek-a-boo
  • What We Do Is What We Do
  • Goin’ Under
  • Fresh
  • That’s Good
  • Girl U Want
  • Whip It
  • Planet Earth
  • Satisfaction
  • Secret Agent Man
  • Uncontrollable Urge
  • Mongoloid
  • Jocko Homo
  • Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA
  • Gates of Steel
  • Freedom of Choice
  • Beautiful World

The setlist shows a few dividing lines.  The first two denote costume changes, and the third marks the planned encore.

Some pictures from the first group of songs:

Mark and Bob2 during “Peek-a-boo”:

After “Peek-a-b00” they took off the masks.

The first costume change involved taking off the jackets and adding blue energy domes:

They played like that for 3 songs from the album Freedom of Choice.  Note, the shirts have blue energy dome logos on the sleeves.

Their second costume change involved putting on yellow radiation suits (and they all grabbed guitars) for a set of songs from their first two albums:

During “Uncontrollable Urge,” Mark demonstrated his urge by ripping his suit, as well as those of his bandmates:

A few pieces of suit got thrown out into the audience, one of which was grabbed by the guy next to me.  He tore off a part of that and gave it to me, so I have a small bit of Bob1’s yellow suit.

Dancing in unison at the end of that song:

For the song”Mongoloid”, Mark would crouch at the edge of the stage with a pair of pompoms, and would jump up and shake them.  Here he is crouching just a few feet in front of me:

and here he’s at the other end of the stage:

Back at the keyboard, shortly before they removed the suits entirely:

They ripped the suits off and threw them into the crowd.  None of them came near me, though I was happy to have the piece I’d already received, even if it doesn’t say ‘DEVO’ on it.  This left the band wearing just the black t-shirts and black shorts (and kneepads).

Mark then jumped down into the space in front of the stage, to get a bit intimate with the audience:

Sadly, he didn’t get close to my position.

I don’t recall why Bob1 was covering his ears here:

Shots from “Freedom of Choice” during the encore:

Jerry with his bass:

Mark had a few towels stuffed in the back of his shorts.  During the song, he would take each one out, wipe his sweat with it, then rub it on his armpits, butt, and crotch (outside his clothes) before throwing it to the audience.

Yes, at age 60 he’s still an edgy weirdo.

Their final song was “Beautiful World” – one of my favorites of theirs.

The song featured a special appearance by Booji Boy on lead vocals!  (for those not in the know, that’s pronounced ‘boogie’.)

In the middle of the song, during a long instrumental part, Booji told a story about getting to go the the Neverland Ranch to hang out with Michael Jackson.  I kept expecting the story to take a creepy turn, but that didn’t happen.

All too soon, the show was over.

The above shot shows “DEVO” in silver letters on Booji’s back.

And that was that.  They were only on stage for an hour-and-a-quarter, but I do feel like I got my money’s and time’s worth.

Posted by seaking on 08-29-2010 at 08:08 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Surreal with 3 Comments

MoCCA: 1 day, 2 locations, in 3-D!

I went to NYC for the MoCCA Art Fest again this year.  The convention has generally been held in June in the past, but this year they had it in April for some reason.  I did it as day trip again, just going down for the Saturday, traveling part way by car and then taking the train into Grand Central.  This time, though, I visited the actual museum as well as the convention, because I was interested in seeing their large exhibit NeoIntegrity (there were several artists’ work in the show that I wanted to check out, including Bill Griffith, from whose site I first heard of the exhibit).

I first headed to the East Village, not far from the museum, to see if I could grab lunch at teany, a vegetarian restaurant co-founded by Moby.  teany had been closed since last June because of a fire, but had been making noises about reopening since February.  I took a chance and stopped by, but alas, it was still not open (it has reopened since I was in NYC).

I ended up getting a falafel sandwich from a street vendor on my way over to the museum.  I took in the exhibit, which was fun to look at – most of it was original art from published works, and there were a ton of artists involved.  However, in general, the stuff by artists I’m familiar with was stuff I’d seen before.  The vast majority of the artists were new to me, though, and there was a lot of funny and interesting work to look at and read.

I left there and headed up to the con at the 69th Regiment National Guard Armory in midtown.  There was a line to get in, which I waited in for a bit before I realized that I could just walk right in, given that I had bought a ticket online (I got to go to a separate table where they looked up my registration and sent me on in – I should have remembered that from last year).

Once inside, I headed down to the panel room, as a panel I wanted to see was starting in 10 minutes.  It’s a good thing I didn’t wait, because there was already a long line to get into the panel room!  The panel was supposed to start at 2:00, but the con staff ended up starting to let the line in at almost 2:15.  The room filled up quickly, and I thought I might not get to to see it, but I ended up standing in the doorway.

The panel was on the topic of alternate treatments of superheroes in comics, and featured artists who had done superhero work but more often (or primarily) did more alternative comics.  The specific people on the panel were the reason for the large crowd: Paul Pope, Frank Miller, Kyle Baker, Jaime Hernandez, and Dean Haspiel.  I snapped a few cell phone pics from my doorway perch – here’s the least bad-looking one:

The guy on the far left was the moderator.  The artists proceed left to right after that in the order I named them.

After that, I had a couple of hours to wander the convention floor:

There was a brief signing by Hernandez I was able to hit, and I managed to visit Ted Rall during the hour he was at his publisher’s booth.  I discovered that Rall is a Mac user!

Other creators I visited and/or bought merchandise from (but did not take pictures of) included Pat Lewis, Raina Telgemeier, Bill Roundy, Monica Gallagher, and R. Sikoryak.

One of the things Mr. Sikoryak is known for is doing slideshow presentations of his comics.  The last panel of the day, which I attended, was him and a few other artists showing slideshows of their work, with parts performed by professional voice actors.  It was a blast, and there were even a few slideshows at the end with images in 3-D.  They passed out glasses to the audience for those:

Yes, it’s blurry – it was another cell phone picture and the room was dark.

The end of that panel marked the end of the con.  I made my way back toward downtown, looking for a place for dinner.  On the way, I happened by Gramercy Park:

where I noticed this sign:

Asking people in Manhattan not to honk?  I wonder if this law actually works…

On my walk I also saw this rather curvy building on 3rd Ave.:

I ended up eating at a little Afghan restaurant called Khyber Pass on St. Mark’s Place.  After that, I headed back toward Grand Central Station, but had some extra time, so I wandered over to Times Square.  Who should I meet there, but Hello Kitty!

She was doing what she does best – waving Hello.

Despite all the light and billboards and entertainmentplexes (or perhaps because of them), there isn’t really anything I find interesting in Times Square.  One neat thing I saw as I headed for the train station again was a Scottish band playing on the sidewalk:

I didn’t stick around long enough to find out who they were or anything, though.  Just part of the New York color.  With that, I left the big apple.

Posted by seaking on 05-10-2010 at 10:05 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Comics, Travel with 1 Comment

Twelve Months Bid Goodbye

Once again I attended a concert by They Might Be Giants.  Like the previous 2 I went to, this one took place in the Calvin Theater in Northampton.  Unlike any other TMBG show I’ve been to, this one was on New Year’s Eve.

I took pictures using both my regular camera and my iPhone, so the quality varies.  Some of the images have been enhanced because they were too dark (at some point I will play with the iris settings on the camera so that it doesn’t darken down stuff when the flash is on and the subject is far from the camera).

Here’s the stage setup:

They had plastic pigeons all over the place.  Here you can see a couple on the main drum kit:

I was pretty close to the stage, having a depth of 2 people in front of me at first, more like 1 as the night went on.

There was a brief opening set by Peter Stampfel, who is formerly of the group The Holy Modal Rounders, and his daughter Zoe.  I was not familiar with Stampfel or the Rounders before this.  It was sort of folksy, bluegrassy, irreverent, and odd all at once.  Fun stuff, though Peter seemed to forget some lyrics a couple of times, and he didn’t seem to have a lot of physical stamina for performing.  The only pictures I managed to get of them are overexposed:

That set only lasted 30 minutes, and then approximately 45 minutes passed before TMBG took the stage.  They had horn players with them once again, in addition to the 5-member group they’ve been for years now.

The stage layout was different than they’ve ever done before, as there were 2 drum sets, one on each side.  John Linnell’s keyboard was at the front of the stage, but was directly in the center, rather than its usual location off to one side (generally he’s been stage left).  Here’s Linnell at the keys:

I took notes on the setlist on my phone, so I can reproduce all the songs in order here:

  • Dr. Worm
  • Withered Hope (always excellent with horns)
  • Birdhouse in Your Soul
  • The Guitar
  • Dig My Grave
  • Meet the Elements
  • Take out the Trash

At this point in the show, Marty moved to the electronic drums, and John Flansburgh talked about how Marty had programmed them with special sounds.  Marty demonstrated the odd sound samples that corresponded to the different pads, and then they played

  • Why Does the Sun Shine? (the Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)

Marty on the little electronic set:

Marty changed the sound of the electronic drums to more normal sounds for

  • Meet James Ensor

After that, the special guest of the show arrived: The Deranged Millionaire.  This character, played by John Hodgman, first appeared on the band’s DVD Venue Songs, in which he was the driving force behind the band creating special songs for each venue they played in on their 2004 tour (apparently he had bought Brooklyn, and was going to kick them out if they didn’t do the songs).  During this concert segment, they played several of those venue songs, with Hodgman talking about each venue and its city, and maybe explaining the song.  He appeared on a projection screen:

but was doing his thing on stage in front of a little video camera (which was mounted on a lone bass drum):

He clearly didn’t have all his lines memorized, as he kept looking at what I assume was his iPhone:

The venue songs that were played:

  • Los Angeles
  • Anaheim
  • Albany
  • Dallas
  • Vancouver
  • Pittsburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Charlottesville
  • Asbury Park
  • Brooklyn

These songs were done with Marty on the usual drums, and without the horns.  After these, they played:

  • Museum of Idiots
  • Clap Your Hands
  • Whistling in the Dark
  • Seven
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
  • New York City
  • The Mesopotamians
  • They Might Be Giants

Here are some shots of the horn players (I don’t remember exactly when in the concert they occurred):

The band exited the stage, and then came back for the first planned encore.  In this, John and John got in front of the video camera with some knit sock puppets:

Here they are on screen in a couple of blurry shots:

Dan Miller, the guitarist, went to the keyboard at this point, and Marty got out a board with 3 “ring for service” type bells on it.

And with this setup, they played:

  • Shoehorn with Teeth
  • In the Middle, in the Middle, in the Middle

and then they took up their normal instruments for

  • Damn Good Times

They left the stage again, and came back for one more encore, which contained 2 songs:

  • Alphabet of Nations
  • Mr. Me

In this show, they had their normal confetti cannon, which was fired off near the beginning of the evening.  However, they also had a different cannon, which kept firing confetti into the air continuously for a minute or more, fired during the second encore.  I turned around and got a picture of the stuff floating above the audience:

And that was pretty much the night.  It was a good long set – the total time TMBG spent on stage was about 1 hour, 45 minutes.  We got out of the place a little after 11:00, and I headed for home, ringing in 2010 in my own living room.

Posted by seaking on 01-10-2010 at 10:01 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Science with 0 Comments

Go See ‘Sleep Dealer’

A couple of weeks ago, we went to see a special screening of the film Sleep Dealer.  It’s a political science-fiction film, dealing with a (very?) near-future time when the U.S.-Mexico border is completely closed physically, but workers in Mexico are able to connect their minds to a network and control robots to do work in the States.

The director, Alex Rivera, is a graduate of Hampshire College (which we live just up the road from).  He was on hand to introduce the film and answer questions after the screening.  He mentioned being influenced by quite a bit of current events (including immigration, remote military technology, control of natural resources, all sorts of aspects of the Internet) in creating the story and coming up with the concepts in the movie.  Certainly, like most good sf, the film not only indicates a direction society might take, but offers commentary on where we are now.

The ideas in the film, technological and sociological, are very interesting, as are many of the visuals.  While it contains many elements that have been seen in other sf film and literature, what Rivera has put together feels fresh, and comes from a unique point of view.  I would advise any sci-fi fan to check it out, especially if you like politically-oriented work.  If I had to name a downside to the film, I thought that, while it was had intriguing ideas, and an engaging plot, it didn’t have a lot of emotional impact.  There were instances in the film that should have been emotionally powerful, even cathartic, where I didn’t have a strong reaction at all.  I think this can be chalked up to a couple of things: first, that Rivera admitted that it was a struggle to come up with a plot, when he mainly wanted to play with ideas, and second, that he has made a number of short works before, but this was the first time he really worked with actors.  The acting was good, but more experience in writing and directing might have given the movie more feeling.

Nevertheless, it was very worth seeing, and I highly recommend it.  For those living in Western Mass., the film is playing this week at the Amherst Cinema.  Enjoy.

Posted by seaking on 05-16-2009 at 08:05 pm
Posted in Arts/Media with 0 Comments

Tenth Magnificent Band Gig

This is the last catch-up post – again posting about something that happened in October.  I went to see They Might Be Giants at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, just as I’d done the previous October.  Seating was different this time – the last time I’d been there, there were additional chairs setup in front of the fixed seating, and all tickets were assigned seats.  This time, the area in front of the stage was open, and tickets for that section were general admission, which was what I bought.

Unlike many previous times I saw Them, there was no opening band.  Then again, you could say They opened for Themselves. They played 2 sets, the first of which was composed of all the songs from the album Flood, played in order.

I arrived soon after the doors opened, and was surprised to be able to get a spot right up by the stage.  It was over to one side, but right in front of John Linnell’s keyboard!  I took a few pictures of the stage before they came out, some of which didn’t work so well without a flash.

The sign hanging in front of the backdrop:

floodsign.jpg

Confetti cannon:

cannon.jpg

I think it’s self-explanatory what this is:

ddrum.jpg

And of course, Mr. Linnell’s most famous instrument (and his coffee cup):

accordion1.jpg

The Flood set was great, as They played some songs I’d never heard in concert (and that They rarely play live).  They had horn players with the band, who joined in on appropriate songs, such as Your Racist Friend (on which I think Flans screwed up the lyrics by repeating part of a verse).

Flans broke out a marching bass drum for Whistling in the Dark:

whistling.jpg

That’s the best photo I have of it.  I tried often not to use my flash, partly because there was a ‘no cameras’ sign in the lobby, and I didn’t want to draw the attention of the theater staff.  Eventually, I got tired of blurry photos and turned the flash back on.

At one point (I don’t remember which song), Flans passed his guitar into the audience so people could play it.

audience.jpg

During the intermission I got a picture of the non-Flood backdrop:

melodysign.jpg

and the setlist for the second half:

setlist.jpg

to spell out the listed songs:

The first thing written under the name of the venue looks like “rompy”.  I believe this just refers to Their intro music as They came out on stage.  They then played:

  • Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal
  • S.E.X.X.Y.
  • Alphabet of Nations
  • The Mesopotamians
  • Memo to Human Resources
  • Experimental Film/New York City/Why Does the Sun Shine?
  • The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma  (from an upcoming album of science songs)
  • Don’t Let’s Start
  • Drink
  • Spider/Damn Good Times
  • Dinnerbell
  • Here Come the Horns (written to introduce the horn players in concert)
  • Withered Hope
  • Seven
  • Dr. Worm/Clap Your Hands/The Guitar
  • Mr. Me

They went right from Dinnerbell to Here Come the Horns.  The setlist has written “I Hit My Head”, which would refer to a Mono Puff song, but They didn’t play it or anything like it.
They did 2 encores:

The first was Older/James K. Polk, during which Flans thanked the crew, and the second was just the song Fingertips.  Normally, the confetti cannon is used during James K. Polk, but Linnell decided (couldn’t tell if it was planned in advance or not) to shoot it off earlier.  If memory serves, it was during Clap Your Hands or The Guitar.

Here’s a few random shots of Linnell:

linnellsqueeze.jpg

linnellsing.jpg

johns.jpg

After the concert was over, the drummer, Marty Beller, came out on stage to say Hi to fans:

beller.jpg

And so ended my 10th time seeing TMBG in concert.

Posted by seaking on 04-12-2009 at 10:04 pm
Posted in Arts/Media with 0 Comments

Three More Band Gentlemen

So, once again this year, They Might Be Giants came to play in Northampton. They played last night at the Calvin Theater, and added something special just for this stop on the tour: a horn section!

The concert was in the evening, but earlier, they did a quick acoustic performance at the Northampton Box Office. I thought the box office might have a back room or something that would be used for the performance, but no, the band and crowd were all crammed into the lobby where one purchases tickets. Everyone fit, but it was cramped. John Flansburgh and John Linnell stood at the front of the place, and the drummer and horn players were all up in the display window. I took a few pictures with my cell phone’s camera – here are the ones that aren’t ridiculously blurry:

nbo1.jpg

nbo2.jpg

In that second one you can see drummer Marty Beller, not playing any actual drums, but getting ready to drum on the case from John L’s accordion.

As I mentioned, this was a short set, as they played only 3 songs. Those were:

  • Mr. Me
  • She’s Actual Size
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

This little concert was put together by our local alt-rock radio station, WRSI 93.9, and it was broadcast live. At some point the audio should be available on their website to listen to, but it isn’t there as of this writing.

It was a fun, though quick, little show, and then the band hightailed it back to the Calvin to prepare for the main show. It had started raining as we were admitted to the box office, and was still raining lightly when I walked outside. The sun was also coming out, though, and there was a rainbow visible, which I got a semi-decent picture of:

rainbow.jpg

The evening concert was my first time in the Calvin. It’s an old movie palace, and a historic landmark in Noho – pretty nice place. Before going to my seat I visited the merchandise table, and picked up a shirt and an EP. It was assigned seating, so I hadn’t needed to get there early. I was on the main floor, near the center, in the 9th row.

There was an opening band who I hadn’t heard of before: Oppenheimer. As their page states, they’re a duo from Belfast, Ireland who play electro-pop-rock stuff. On stage, Shaun (don’t ask me why someone from Ireland spells his name that way) played a drum set and sang lead vocals, and Rocky alternately played guitar and synths, though when he was playing guitar they had pre-programmed synth lines going on. Their music was not bad, and Shaun impressed me at one point by saying that Twin Peaks was the best TV show ever, and dedicated their next song to Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer.

So once Oppenheimer were done, after some more setting up, TMBG took the stage. For the first song or two it was the usual five piece group (John, John, Marty, Dan Miller, and Danny Weinkaupf). Then they were joined by the “Tricerachops” horns. Unfortunately, the only one of their names I recall is Dan Levine, the trombone player. I don’t recall the names of the sax player (maybe Phil something) or trumpeter. Nevertheless, they were a welcome addition to the performance. I believe this is the first time since my first TMBG concert (in 1994) that I’ve seen them with a horn section (this was my 9th concert, BTW).

Here’s a picture of the stage setup, again taken using my cell phone:

calvin1.jpg

Of course they had to have those William Allen White heads there on the curtain.

Here is the list of songs they played, punctuated with some comments:

  • The Cap’m
  • Damn Good Times
  • The Mesopotamians
  • Mr. Me
  • She’s Actual Size
  • Withered Hope

Withered Hope sounded awesome with the horns (not surprising, since it has horns on the album).

  • Working Undercover for the Man
  • Metal Detector

Those two songs were prefaced by the Johns saying that they were going to play a couple songs that they don’t normally play live, and that having the horns there was making it possible to play them. I was especially excited to hear Metal Detector, as I’ve never heard it live, and it’s a great song.

  • In the Middle, in the Middle, in the Middle

In the Middle was prefaced by Flans talking about the crosswalk in the center of downtown Noho, which gives walk signs in all directions at the same time, so pedestrians cross wherever they like, including diagonally across the intersection. He said this song was their advice to people who live everywhere else.

  • Spy

Spy always involves a long, sort of improv bit at the end, conducted by Linnell. In this case, Linnell conducted for a while and then Flans took over (mainly indicating when each instrument should start or stop, and often having them only play one note before stopping).

  • Whistling in the Dark
  • Bee of the Bird of the Moth

Bee… is another one that has horns on the album, and so sounded great with them here.

  • Alphabet of Nations
  • Phone Calls from the Dead

They did the phone calls feature last time they were here. In that case, it was Cal Coolidge who called them. This time it was Emily Dickinson (voiced from offstage by Flans). She said that it was very cold and dark under the ground, which inspired her to write a new poem. She thanked the band for visiting the area again, and then recited the poem:

“Hickory Dickory Dock
The band ran up the clock
They brought in some horns
But it was still boring
Fuck you guys”

  • Birdhouse in Your Soul
  • Take out the Trash
  • I’m Impressed
  • Museum of Idiots

Museum of Idiots is another awesome, awesome horn song.

  • Ant

Ant was introduced by Flans saying that they wrote it many years ago as being about a scary, dystopian future, but these days it just comes off as topical.

  • Dr. Worm

At this point they left the stage, and then came back for a first encore.  They played:

  • Ana Ng
  • Band intros (Flans called the ‘song’ Graveyard)
  • Why Does the Sun Shine

WDtSS explained that the heat and light from the sun come from the nuclear reactions between estrogen, estrogen, estrogen, and more estrogen.

They left again, and then came back for a second and final encore.

  • With the Dark
  • Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Istanbul started out with a horn duel between the trombone and saxophone, where the audience was to be divided in two to cheer each player on.  Flans was speculating on how to divide the audience, when someone in the front row yelled out “Jews!”  Flans declined saying that “The overwhelming power of the Jews would crush the competition!”  he ended up deciding that the townies would root for the trombone, while the students would root for the saxophone.  The actual duel involved each player taking a turn riffing, and then they started playing at each other simultaneously.  I got a blurry pic of that:

hornbattle.jpg

And that song was the end of the concert.  I went up to the stage afterward to try and get a setlist, but they had already been given away by the stage crew.  I did get to shake Marty’s hand, though, as he was hanging out on stage and greeting the audience.  I also saw Dan Miller by the sound board on my way out of the place, and told him it was a great show.  He thanked me.

Misc.: Flans referred more than once to those of us in attendance as “Calvinists”.  He also announced at one point that the editors of the TMBG wiki were in attendance at the show, and said that we could check the wiki to verify any facts he was unsure of about their songs.

Posted by seaking on 10-21-2007 at 11:10 pm
Posted in Arts/Media with 0 Comments

This Movie Bashes Government?

I received an e-mail the other day of news about They Might Be Giants, including this link to a video for the song “Shadow Government”, which is on their new album.  A pretty neat video, IMHO.

The animation style in the TMBG piece reminded me of a video that I saw a few years back at a film festival in Cincinnati.  That would be this video, by the band Bad Religion (to date, it’s the only song of theirs I’m familiar with).

Posted by seaking on 09-17-2007 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Links with 0 Comments

Tables Mitigated Bouncy Glee

This year I didn’t have to drive for 2 hours – we were able to see They Might Be Giants right here in Northampton.

They performed 2 shows last month at the Iron Horse Music Hall. Specifically, there were 7pm and 10pm shows on Saturday, May 5. We had decided to get tickets to the early show, thinking it might be less crowded. As it turned out, the 7:00 show was the first to sell out (eventually both shows were sold out in advance).

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Posted by seaking on 06-03-2007 at 03:06 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Humor, News with 0 Comments

The Bad, the Worse, and the Ugly

Spring is the time when young Ann Arborites’ fancy turns to thoughts of terrible cinema. Those thoughts are directed at the Smithee Awards, a presentation that recognizes bad movies for their lack of accomplishment (Smithee web site here, Smithee blog here).

The show is put on by some friends of mine and I’ve attended many times in the past. I went this year, and here is my report.

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Posted by seaking on 05-12-2007 at 08:05 pm
Posted in Arts/Media with 3 Comments

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