I just got back from the TMBG Concert.
So the opening band was called Oppenheimer. They’re two guys from Northern Ireland, apparently. The band seems like a suitable opener for TMBG, since they consist of two guys. The bald guy plays drums and sings, and the slightly chubby one plays guitar and sings with the robot-inducing keyboard thing. Voicebox?
I’m glad I got The Else before this concert, because it sucks not knowing the songs when a band plays it live. Something about having to process the song instead of sort of knowing what’s going to happen. With Oppenheimer, I didn’t know any songs, so it was sorta hard to get it. Plus their songs were all very electronicy. Like with sustained chords and such. They were pretty cool though. The chubby guitarist also seemed really into it, sort of like a guitar-playing Star Wars Kid!
TMBG started off with one of their new songs, The Cap’m and ended up playing quite a few of The Else songs. After the first song, Flans told everyone to go stand in the front, so I ran into the aisle to the 10th row or so. Maybe closer. That was cool, since my seat was right behind an Amazonian lady. Nothing against her, but I couldn’t see Oppenheimer because of her massive head (and its height).
So I got to rock out in the aisle the whole show. It was cool! They played a mix of songs mostly from their newer albums (The Else, The Spine, and Mink Car) and a few of the “classics.” They didn’t play Ana Ng, Don’t Let’s Start or She’s an Angel, which was kind of dissapointing. But they did play The Famous Polka! Without the words… Ooh, they played Why Does The Sun Shine? and Meet James Ensor though, which almost makes up for it. And Doctor Worm. And New York City. It was a good show.
If I could have done the playlist, I’d have taken off Cyclops Rock (though it actually sounds good live) and XTC Vs Adam Ant. They also played this weird song where they listed countries in alphabetical order that I’ve never heard before. It must be off the kid’s album. With those songs removed, I would’ve added those previously mentioned unplayed songs, and maybe some of Linnell’s state songs (Montana!).
Also strange was the absence of my favorite song of the new album, Upside Down Frown… It made me turn my smile upside down. Temporarily. They did play the Mesopotamian one though.
Singing-wise, they were very good. I actually think they sound better live. There’s a lot more energy in their live show that doesn’t get transmitted in the CDs. Linnell really belts it out, as well as Flansburgh (especially during Istanbul (not Constantinpole)’s interlude part. Some songs that I’ve disliked in the past sounded better live.
They also had some weird skits, like they made a phone call with some dead person. Tonight (I dunno if it changes) was Jerry Orbach, who I didn’t even realize was dead! Apparently the rest of the audience didn’t know who he was by his name (along with me), since They sorta had to explain the gag. Then Jerry (Flans) and Linnell (Linnell) had a duet.
TMBG left somewhat suddenly after playing their Mesopotamian song. Then the audience started clapping and the house lights didn’t go on, so we kept clapping and yelling until the band came back to play more songs. Then they played a couple more songs and left again. Then we got them to come back again. I know it’s part of the showmanship thing, but playing a part in this rehearsed set of events kind of makes me feel used. Psychologically though, I guess it was better than if they just said “so long!” after their real last song.
Having played quite a few gigs in a band myself, I can say that people sort of expect you to play another song after you say you’re done. So it’s always kind of good to cover your ass by saying you’re done when you’re not. Because fans get pretty pissed when you quit without doing an encore. Except if you fucked up that night, which also happened a lot in the band I was in. But I digress…
Overall, it was a cool show, and I think I got my money’s worth. It’s sort of strange seeing these people that you’ve heard for years actually making music on the fly. Like “whoa, this music is made by real people!” I’d have stayed and tried to get something autographed, but I heard that they weren’t going to meet fans after the show. I went to the merch place and they had CDs that were pre-autographed. Sort of lame, really. It’s not like the CDs were priced any higher than normal, but at least show up to say hi to the fans! Okay, I didn’t stick around, so maybe they did, but they definitely gave the impression of not caring with the pre-autographed stuff.
If I ever get a chance to see them again, I’ll probably take it. I had a good time. If this was an eBay transaction, it’s probably go something like: “SUPER FAST SHIPPING GREAT COMM WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN AAAA+++++++!!!!!!” But don’t they all?