22 March 2009

Fangirls On The Road, Day Five : Toad's Place, New Haven, 3/10/09 + more new songs.

What a weird venue. For those who haven't gone to Toad's Place in New Haven before, the venue space is split in two by a barrier (complete with barrier guards), one side for the over-21s and the other for the unders. I suppose the whole idea is to prevent under-21s from drinking, but I heard that they had the same set up BEFORE they got shut down for a few years due to underage drinking. So I guess the moral of the story is that you really can't stop underage Yalies, after all. (We were also treated to witnessing an irrationally irate guy arguing that his under-21 girlfriend should be allowed to exit and reenter the venue so they could get "pizza." Clearly this kid doesn't go to too many shows, or he'd realise that not allowing underage kids to reenter is standard procedure pretty much everywhere nowadays.)

Anyway, notes on the show itself are pretty short - nothing new to report, other than the fact that I got a plum spot sitting on the edge of the stage, and thus didn't have to elbow people away from my spot.

So, let's look at the rest of those new songs, shall we?

"Last Leaf"

In my post about the kick-off show in Philly, I noted that this cache of songs seems overwhelmingly more emotional than last time around, and this song is a prime example of that. Witness Damian Kulash doing something he's never done before and singing a totally earnest love song on stage. On acoustic. All by himself. At the TLA show, in fact, he introduced this song by more or less pleading with the rest of the band to keep it on the new record. (We were later assured that it will be recorded, but I think it would fare better as a hidden track or a b-side, to be honest.) It was an endearing moment; it has to take a lot of guts to stand in front of a crowd and beseech the other guys onstage to keep a song because it means that much to you.

Unfortunately, Damian's introduction to the song changed from "Please? Guys?" to "I'm a sarcastic asshole blah blah here's me playing a song" pretty rapidly, which ruined the charm somewhat. It's an incredibly sweet, simple effort nonetheless. Oh, and here's an amusing video of him messing up about halfway through (around 1:20) at the Northampton show:

"This Too Shall Pass"

Rachel decided early on that this was her favourite of the new stuff (and while I like it a bunch, I'm pretty partial to the funk of "White Knuckles"). Recklessly joyful, it's the anthem for all those times you've second guessed yourself or let someone else get the best of your happiness. My band director always used to tell us, "This, too, shall pass," and that's all I can think of when I hear this song. Wise words, indeed.


Until it was pointed out to me as otherwise, I swore the first line of this song was "Stop screaming screaming screaming" (It's not. It's "Skyscrapers, please forgive me."), and I wanted to say, "Damian, please never take your own advice." (But I can't say that now, because that's not what the lyrics are. I am half-deaf in one ear, please be quiet.) The falsetto and accompanying screaming that kicks in about three-quarters of the way through the song harken back to the OK Go-before-they-were-OK Go tracks of Appendices and, most recently, their cover of the Pixies' "Gigantic." The whole old-influences-and-sounds-coming-full-circle thing is something I thoroughly enjoy and hope they continue to pursue. This song was one you really had to see in Philly; that night's performance (being the one in the video above) was the best. (Portland's was excellent but marred by the introduction of an echo, which did the song no favours. Drop the technology, boys, and let the vocals do all the work.)

ETA : Also. If you watch that video, start paying attention to the tubular bells right around 1:55. Suddenly, at 2:00, they'll be conspicuously missing and then suddenly reappear again five or ten seconds later. At that point, Andy Ross broke the gavel he was using while playing, which was hilarious, because he just stared at it like, "...what the fuck?" And then we laughed. Loudly.

A few more pictures from New Haven can be found here.


  1. so I'm totally randomly creeping on your blog, but I just had to say that I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought "Appendices" when I heard Skyscrapers.

  2. Dude, creep away, I like it when people actually read my stuff. :) Also, yeah, TOTALLY Appendices. You can hear it on "Gigantic," too. It's fantastic. Unfortunately, they started adding this weird echo in Boston & Portland - not good.