Last night’s They Might Be Giants show at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster was, sadly, probably my worst experience seeing Them. And it’s really all attributable to one guy, who we’ll get to a little later. Amazingly, this was the first TMBG show I’ve attended that TDK didn’t also attend!
GG and I both left work a little early and booked it out to Lancaster, where we met MB and Alan at the mall for dinner. My little pumpkin came running into the restaurant to meet me with open arms! We had a nice, quick dinner at Qdoba, and then headed into the city to find the Chameleon. None of us had ever been there before, but we had directions and a general idea where to go. The tickets said the show was at 7:00, so we aimed to get to the venue by 6:00. There is a big parking garage conveniently located directly across the street from the Chameleon, so we parked in there (once the machine finally accepted the $5 bill we were feeding it!) and walked across the street to see DT, who was already in line with some friends. Then we walked around Lancaster for about 15 minutes, since the line was still pretty short. When we got back, we took our place at the back of the line, which had grown only slightly. It was about 6:30 at this point.
It had been raining on and off all day, and as we stood in line, it started just spitting again. It was tolerable. We stood and talked, and eventually the line moved a few feet, and then… stopped. It got to be 7:30… 8:00… And that was about when we got in. MB, Alan, GG, and I took a spot about one row of people away from the stage, on Linnell’s side, near DT. While we waited for the opening band, Jules texted me (she and Kevin were going to be a little late, which obviously didn’t matter since we didn’t even get in until 8) to see where we were. Also, we started talking to a group of people next to us. One of the guys in the group recognized GG, and it turned out they’d graduated from high school together! So they reminisced about some old classmates and stuff. Also, this strange guy next to me turned around and randomly told me and MB that the girl he’d come to the show with was only 20, so they made her stand upstairs with the under-21 people. “Have you seen her? She has brown eyes and glasses.” Um… noooo… I suggested calling her cell phone. Instead he turned around to face the balcony, and there she was, waving at him. I figured he’d go up to stand with her, which would be great, since his BO was pretty funky.
The opening act came on. Now, we have seen some strange opening acts for TMBG before. For example, Michael Leviton, who played the ukulele while a lot of the audience booed him, and Corn Mo, who’s sort of a one-man accordion band. I think Les Chauds Lapins were the strangest yet, though – a man and woman who played very small banjos (though at one point the woman switched to an acoustic guitar) and sang old French songs about skinny dipping women marrying men who caught them naked, among other things. At some point, Jules and Kevin showed up and made their way to where we were standing. They stood between us and the stinky dude, helping to block the smell from poor MB, who is at armpit-level.
Les Chauds Lapins
Then there was a break before TMBG came on. In talking to the people around us, we learned that nobody had any perfume with them (GG wanted to douse the smelly guy), and also that the pretty young woman who was flirting with stink-o had a 14 year-old daughter up on the balcony. (She must’ve been 14 herself when she had the kid, then.) This lady was totally
hitting on the smelly dude, too. They were hugging, taking pictures together, etc. We thought they must have known each other, but apparently the people behind us had been talking to her outside, which is how they knew about her kid. Later I saw her eying up DT, as well, though he appeared to have come with a girl(friend) – go DT!
I was hoping that once TMBG actually started, we would kind of forget about the BO bandit. It didn’t really work out that way, though. As soon as the band came on, he was holding his camera up, getting in everyone’s way, moving all around and bumping into people (and this is even with an open area around him where people were avoiding his stench). In addition to shouting the lyrics to every song, he would randomly yell out other stuff, too. GG made a joke during the opening act about playing “Banjo Hero” (a riff on the game “Guitar Hero”), and for the rest of the night the smelly guy shouted things about “Guitar Hero,” “Accordion Hero,” and whatever else he could think of. During any quiet moments, he would shout stuff like, “Flans, I love you!” and “I love you, Linny!” At one point, Flansburgh held his guitar over the audience for people to pluck, as he often does, and this dude practically ripped it from Flans’ hands! There were several times when I had to physically push him away from me, because he was getting too close or whatever. At one point They instigated a conga line, which of course this stinky weirdo joined, and we happily rushed forward to where he’d been standing, and hoped he wouldn’t be able to make his way back. Be he congaed right back to where he’d been, and squeezed himself into his previous spot! Oh and also, he totally stunk! Like, I have smelled smelly people before, but I can’t really describe the stench of this guy – especially as he held his arms up with his camera (which he did for the entire concert).
By the end of the night, I was extremely ticked off at this dude. He had a huge negative effect on my experience. I was all set to give him a piece of my mind before heading out, and had the blessing of several others around me, but he was climbing onto the stage to grab the set list (as people yelled for him to “get off the stage!”). GG said he’d rather just get out of there, it wasn’t worth it to talk to him. But I had it all planned out, what I would’ve said to this jerk!
I’d planned to print here an open letter to the guy, but actually I have since found his MySpace page, Facebook, Flickr stream (here’s the girl he abandoned on the balcony), and YouTube channel (check out his video of The Mesopotamians for a great example of his scream-singing that he did all throughout the show). [Edit - 9/28] Well, as of today his Flickr stream is mostly friends-only. [/Edit] Oh well, here’s my open letter to him anyway – I hope he finds this!
I’d like you to know that you really ruined a lot of people’s fun last night, with your total lack of concert etiquette. All the pictures you took with your flash are going to suck because of the smoke machines. All the videos you shot are going to suck because the tiny microphone on your camera can’t handle standing directly in front of the speakers on stage. Not to mention the fact that I’m pretty sure TMBG did not want their entire concert recorded. You rudely bumped into, elbowed, and blocked the view of many people around you as you held your camera through the whole show. Your constant shouting was annoying and not at all funny (which I’m assuming you thought it would be), nor did your frequent declarations of love for John and John impress them (which I’m assuming you thought they would). And finally, and most importantly, you have horrendous body odor. You probably didn’t notice that there was usually a 1-foot radius of emptiness around you, but it’s because you stink horribly.
I guess in addition to that loser, I also was kind of unimpressed with the song selections. They’ve been doing this thing lately where they play one song off every album (though they seem to have completely missed Factory Showroom last night). So it was cool that they did a Mono Puff song (probably the only one I know, too), and my favorite State Song, “West Virginia,” and they opened with “Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal,” which was awesome… But man, do they have to perform “Istanbul,” “Particle Man,” and “The Alphabet of Nations” at every concert?
Linnell on the keyboard
Linnell on the accordion
Flansburgh rocking out on guitar
Flans with “the stick”