Put your hand inside the puppet head

So, is it  a thing now with hipster dweebs wearing Bing Crosby-looking headgear?  Because it’s annoying as hell, and I am normally not bothered by hipster behavior (other than fixies, because that’s just stupid).  I saw at least three, possibly five dudes wearing hats that looked like the one from Caddyshack.

However, I figure that saying “But it looks good on YOU, though” with the big eye roll would be lost on the youngstoids.  Hell, we had to explain the joke about “how many little tiny beers did you have?” “Seventy two.” to the guy giving Goose Island samples away, so there you go.

As I promised in the comments, I would be here to talk about the TMBG show we went to on Friday.  So here we are.

The opening band, FWIW, was a bunch of buskers called Moon Hooch.  Two saxophonists (mostly) and a drummer, playing mostly instrumental music.  It was interesting, especially the bits with bari sax, but to me it sounded like nothing so much as the abandoned Vic Mizzy soundtrack to Night Of The Living Dead.

Many Many years ago, I had tickets to see TMBG at a local theater, forget what tour it was.  But inexplicably, my tickets which were pinned up on the board in the kitchen, disappeared.  and this was before we had digital tickets or could just print them out again or anything like that.  So we just went to a bar and shot darts instead.  During the course of that show, they played “Famous Polka” and we discovered why playing alternative polkas in Milwaukee is dangerous.  People jumped up on stage to pogo-polka in a nerd-rock frenzy, and the apron of the stage erected over the orchestral pit collapsed under the weight of hundreds of polka frenzied fans.  AND I MISSED IT!  I could have been one of the injured, who John and John visited in the hospital.

[Holy shit, the Internoodles really do have everything.  Here’s a RECORDING of that incident]:

So anyway, They Might Be Giants. They were, of course, immense, as befitting giants.  They had fun with the bizarre stage pitch of Turner Hall.  And satisfyingly, for the third song they played Ana Ng, my long-time favorite, which they have skipped the last couple of times we’ve seen them.

Turner Hall was sold out; the last time I was at a sold out show was for the Lest We Forget marathon of local bands from the 90s. But a TMBG crowd is hilariously wide ranging.  We saw hipsters and punks and three generations of a family; tattoos and swing dresses and leather and purple hair.  Everybody was having just a lovely time, weren’t they just?  Except for the hurling-adjacent hipster who stole a chair from the guys in front of us, because he couldn’t decide whether he needed to talk to Ralph on the Big White Phone, or just take a little nap.  It was OK, I remembered my first beer.

Amusingly, while the Avatars of They got irate because their script did not include the town or venue’s name, when they sang “He’s Loco” they included a snarky, disparaging line about Scott Walker that inspired the crowd to whoop approvingly.  Although this blog typically doesn’t swing politically (much), Turdwaffle: when you’ve lost the TMBG fans, your fifteen minutes are up.  Stay in Iowa.

I like to think that they continue to play “Famous Polka” in Milwaukee due to that early incident, but this time fans were warned that they couldn’t come up on stage.  Also it was abbreviated and without vocals, so I read that as an attempt to keep the Milwaukee animals at bay.

They played lots of stuff, old and new, as well as a couple of encores.  the new stuff sounded quite lovely, in particular Insect Hospital and Nanobots. They got weird on stage, and even the drum solo was not tedious.  John  unlimbered the accordion with some regularity.  There was a lovely song that memorialized Tesla, and a rave-up about the Replacements.  Oh heck, here’s the setlist, play along at home:

    1. When Will You Die
    2. New York City
      (cub cover)
    3. Ana Ng
    4. Memo to Human Resources
    5. Letterbox
    6. Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
      (The Four Lads cover)
    7. Call You Mom
    8. Circular Karate Chop
    9. The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)
    10. Mammal
    11. Cloissone
    12. Nanobots
    13. Insect Hospital
    14. He’s Loco
    15. How Can I Sing Like a Girl?
    16. Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head
    17. Lost My Mind
    18. Minimum Wage
    19. We Live in a Dump
    20. Can’t Keep Johnny Down
    21. Dead
    22. You’re on Fire
    23. Dr. Worm
    24. The Famous Polka
    25. Encore:
    26. Tesla
    27. Birdhouse in Your Soul
    28. Damn Good Times
    29. Encore 2:
    30. We’re the Replacements
    31. The End of the Tour

Many years ago, when those first two albums came out and they ran a daily Dial-A-Song (free if you call from work!), did anyone, let along John + John, think they would still be doing it 30 years later?  Talk about hitting the lottery; spending your life making quirky, catchy music that is rabidly accepted by nerds and social outcasts.  And the occasional theme song.

You either know and love TMBG, or you don’t and don’t get it.  We’ve loved them since that first album and try to see them whenever they swing through.  Fortunately, they like Turner Hall, canted stage and all, and the crowd loved them right back for a couple of hours; we got sweaty and used our teeth, putting our backs into it.

[funny thing about that.  My back, which is OEM, doesn’t do the standing thing as well as it used to.  But at this show, and the Japandroids earlier this week, I found that when the band is playing, and I am dancing and singing along, nothing hurts and everything is fine.  so the only thing to do is go see more music.  Bring on the Fest!]

My iPod tells me that the Library has nearly 400 TMBG songs.  I would guess there are some rarities and alternate versions I don’t have that would bring their recorded output closer to 500.  Wikipedia states that obsessive fans have chronicled about 500 songs on Dial-A-Song. The TMBG Wiki page on songs contains over 1500 entries (many are duplicative, live versions and the like)  But in any case, these dudes are prolific like NOBODY’s business, and it is impossible to play everything that you’d like to hear in one sitting;  most people will always be able to point to something else they wished had been played.

But for me, I was pretty much done and dusted after Ana Ng.  I love that song….



12 responses to “Put your hand inside the puppet head

%d bloggers like this: