Sep 13, 2007

Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm

Yesterday afternoon I happened to be looking at Jonathan Coulton's website. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, since I subscribe to the RSS feed that would (in theory) alert me to any upcoming shows in my area. I had clicked over to his site from the link over there -->, and was just browsing when I noticed an entry about upcoming shows. My reaction:
"Oh, he IS going to play in L.A."

"Wednesday, September 12th... today's Wednesday ... September 12th."

At any rate, I frantically called up a couple of friends and convinced them to come with me to the Paul Gleason Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Finding the venue was rather harder than I had anticipated, considering the link from Coulton's site led to Ticketmaster, who thoughtfully provided the wrong address.

Thank you, Ink Gorilla, for arriving early enough to call me and tell me that 6250 Hollywood Boulevard is actually a parking lot. Luckily, Ixt had his iPhone with him and, with the speed of a very slow web connection, was able to deduce the actual location of the venue (6520 Hollywood Boulevard as it turned out).

After purchasing our tickets and heading inside, we went immediately to the refreshment stand. Ixt casually mentioned that, should I want to meet Jonathan Coulton, I might want to walk over to the T-Shirt and CD table, where he was standing talking to the woman making the sales.

I did, and Mr. Coulton was kind enough to take a picture with me. Unfortunately, that picture was taken with Ixt's flash-less iPhone in a very poorly-lit room:

But, thanks to the miracle of computers (and my amazing skills):

Okay, so it still looks bad. It was considerably better than my camera would have been able to capture, however, because I forgot it at home.

Paul and Storm, the opening band, were surprisingly entertaining and funny. Both Ixt and Ink Gorilla purchased their CD (I spent my remaining cash on JoCo T-Shirts for me and the wife). Their set included a "tribute" to Randy Newman, demonstrating just how much better The Lord of the Rings and The Passion of the Christ would have been had Newman contributed to the soundtracks.

During an intermission in which dozens of people waited for a single, non-functional bathroom while warily eying a rather stout cockroach.

Hey, look, Jonathan Coulton!

Coulton's set was fantastic. There were a few songs out of his repertoire that I doubted he'd play, but he hit just about every one of my favorites.

He opened alone onstage with the fan favorite "Skullcrusher Mountain" and followed it with another few songs. My personal favorite Coulton tune was one of them: the Plimpton ode, "A Talk with George."

Before long, though, he had Paul and Storm back onstage to help out with several songs, including "Creepy Doll," the ever-popular "Code Monkey," and a truly great cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." The latter two songs are probably his two most popular tunes thus far. Paul and Storm looked like they were having a particularly good time backing him up on "First of May," but, really, who wouldn't?

Another highlight of the show was a live performance of Coulton's tune "Flikr," named after and the website that allows you to post your personal photos to the web. It was accompanied by a slide show of the random pictures from the site that are the basis of the song:

It's no exaggeration to call "Flickr" multimedia brilliance.

Coulton finished the regular portion of the show with the audience-participation favorite "Re: Your Brains," during which we all groaned out the chorus of "All we Want to do is Eat Your Brains!" in our best zombie voices. During a short encore, Paul and Storm joined him for two more songs, closing out the show with a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

The show was a lot of fun and I'm glad that whatever random impulse had me reading his page yesterday didn't occur today instead, otherwise we'd have missed out.

If you don't know his work and would like to check it out, you can (net traffic willing) visit his store here. At the moment, it seems to be VERY SLOW, but I was listening to songs on it yesterday. You can listen to the entire song there, as well as buy MP3s by the track or by the album. A lot of his stuff is available via iTunes as well, but, of course, you only get 30 second samples, there.

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