Thursday, September 20, 2007

Perfect mix of art and science

September 19, 2007
Singer/Songwriter Jonathon Coulton came through Dallas last night as part of his nationwide tour. He's built his audience as an independent, largely through the internet, and thus tends to play to geeks like me, with geek-friendly songs such as "Code Monkey", "The Future Soon", and "Mandelbrot Set". Just about all his songs have a wry, intelligent sense of humor, but as we experienced at the live show, there is a sort of hidden thread of emotion to the songs that resonates even deeper. After you get past the unusual lyrics, universal themes of love and loneliness are revealed.

Opening Set
Thinking that a) a geek might actually start a show on time, and b) it was a weeknight after all, we arrived promptly at 8:00 so as not to miss a single morsel. Paul and Storm, the openers, took the stage around 9:15, to a packed house at Club Dada. I was previously unfamiliar with this act, but apparently they have had some success on the Bob and Tom show, which doesn't play in Dallas except perhaps over the internet. Though I'm sure they have been at this much longer than Coulton, they were the perfect warm-up for him, as they got us all in the laughing mood starting with their opening meta-song, "Opening Band." They played several other humorous songs, and didn't fail to celebrate the holiday with audience participation.

Main Act
After a brief recess, Johnathon Coulton took the stage solo. Early on, he played "IKEA" (yes, a song about a furniture store). He went on to play "I crush everything," about a giant sea creature and his search for love with his all-too-powerful tentacles. He soon satisfied the ├╝ber-geeks with "The Future Now," a song about how he is going to be enhanced in the future, and woo the girl to whom he sings with all his imperfections removed. He followed up with "SkullCrusher Mountain," a song about an evil genius showing his new girlfriend around the lair.
Somewhere in there was "I Feel Fantastic," a song about the perfection of pharmaceuticals in the future, with some really funny lines, and "Tom Cruise Crazy" and "Code Monkey". He also played "You Ruined Everything," about having a new baby, "Creepy Doll," and "Mr. Fancy Pants," for which he had purchased a key-tar beat box to play live. He closed with "Mandelbrot Set" about fractals, and "Re: Your Brains" about your local office-mate turned zombie, though again the metaphorical undertones were apparent, and resonant to cube-dwellers everywhere.

Though it was a weekday, and though it had all started way later than I expected, and though it was nearing midnight and I was tired, it ended all too soon. Encores were "First of May" (nsfw), and "Sweet Caroline". Jonathon stayed around afterward to sign albums and such, though I prefer to buy online the songs I like.

1 comment:

Joel said...

I enjoyed your review. That show was a blast. JC signed the comic I did about him. What a guy!