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A New Year’s Eve Show! January 4, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, music.
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I know, I’m late in posting this, but…

As Ursi’s 21st birthday present, I bought us (!) tickets to They Might Be Giants at the accousticly wonderful Calvin Theater in Northampon, Massachusetts.  The management had conceded to remove the front so-many rows of seats and sell “standing room” tickets, so that’s where we were, me being an aging hippie accustomed to clambering onto stages (and generally being “asked” to GTFO) and she being a big fan of TMBG and never before having seen them live.

So, after a light dinner of spicy shrimp and a beer, which she was astonished to not be “carded” for, we hit The Calvin and staked out some prime real estate down front and center.

The night began with a jaw-dropping set by Peter Stampfel, backed up by his daughter on funky (and very rustic) drum and vocals.  Peter (I’m assuming you’re not aware) was a founding member of The Holy Modal Rounders, an absurdist folk/rock act which released their first album back in 1964.  They have, among other things, the distinction of having supplied the tune “Bird Song” (“If you wanna be a birrrrrrd…”) to the film Easy Rider,  and having introduced the term “psychedelic” into the lexicon of rock, though they pronounced it “psycho-delic” at the time.   He joined The Fugs in 1965, and anyone familiar with their music would have been psyched for what transpired this New Years’ Eve, though apparently most of the younger audience were not, as they hooted and clapped more in amusement than in appreciation of this Alt Music legend.

Here’s a crappy shot of Peter and Daughter (sorry, I didn’t catch her name,) on accounta cameras weren’t allowed, and my little smuggled point-and-shoot wasn’t doing it:

Kind of a Velvet Peter effect going there.  You could either call it shitty photography or art.

If you’re curious about my enthusiasm for Mr. Stampfel, you might go to grooveshark.com to check out what’s been preserved of his repertoire, or see what The Fugs did with him on board.  This is only recommended if you have an open mind and a sense of humor.  It’s a potentially bawdy mix of Musical Americana, kind of a stylistic precursor to The Band, bounded only by a drug-induced dismissal of musical norms and the making of no concessions to what was socially acceptable in 1964.  If you follow that link, I recommend that you listen to a few verses of each song, and if you’re not amused, move on to the next.   There are moments of genius in this stuff, and some clunkers as well.  But the true test of this man’s efforts is The Sum, which is predictably greater than any of its parts, and I’d hate for you to miss that.

But anyway.

The MAIN EVENT was They Might Be Giants.  This is one of my favorite bands, and it tickles me to see how much Ursi digs them.

John (one of the two) on accordion:

..and at the keyboards:

They had a drummer who went into overdrive for a nearly three hour show, and a three-person horn section , The Tricerachops Horns, that kicked ass:

This bad photo so perfectly captures the energy of this trio, which drove this show, providing the stampeding elephants to drive home the brilliant lyrics of John and John.

And during the encore, when we beat feet for a view from the balcony and an unobstructed exit before the bulk of the audience left, we got to see what we had narrowly missed, a cannonade of confetti covering the dance floor:

It was cool to see, but I’m glad I missed it.  Even my peripheral engagement has had me picking pieces of confetti off my bedroom floor for the last three days, so I feel for the folks who were Down There.

The lights dimmed, leaving a contented crowd:

We got out ahead of the masses with an hour to go before The Ball on top of the Hotel Northampton rose,  but decided to skip the main event in favor of going home.  It was nearly an hour away, and we’d already had a long, fun night.

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