Jonathan Coulton: Preview Concert

Last week, while most of the people I chat with on the Internet were taunting me with pictures of San Diego Comic Con, I had a different opportunity to so something much, much cooler (or at least I imagined it was to keep from collapsing with jealousy). Dawn and I went to see Jonathan Coulton preview his newest songs with a new band in Northampton, Massachusetts.

We made it just in time to get a reasonable booth at The Iron Horse and order up some nachos and steaks. I might mention that just glancing around there was many a Woot shirt in attendance. While hanging out on the upper level and eyeing the stage area on a regular basis to see who was around, we spotted John Hodgman hanging out down below! That produced some excitement and pointing.

For the pics or it didn’t happen types.

Coulton came out on the stage by himself at first to introduce the show and to remind us that he totally understood that we wanted to hear songs we remembered as well as his brand new stuff. He picked up the old acoustic guitar and serenaded us with “Millionaire Girlfriend”. Coulton has cut his hair, although not completely, but he was definitely slightly less bushy than when we saw him at PAX East in March.

After a couple of acoustic numbers, he went ahead and brought up the band, consisting of Chris Anderson and Marty Beller, drummer for TMBG. Coulton switched over to a shiny electric guitar, with some quips about not knowing how to play it, and then proceeded to get the band going.

The concert was a back and forth between old stuff and new stuff, which worked out well. Some of the old stuff included “Creepy Doll” complete with fun effects pedal, “I Feel Fantastic” which is my husband’s favorite, and “Code Monkey” involving much audience participation. The band sounded great, and Chris Anderson was perfect on vocal harmonies (as well as rocking the bass).

The new songs spanned Coulton’s range of songwriting. As Coulton mentioned, the new album is being produced by John Flansburgh of TMBG, and their influence can be heard in a few of the new numbers, most noteably “The Stash”, a song about mustaches, the American Institution (as Coulton said). Similar sounds came from “Nemeses” (yes, that’s the plural of Nemesis) which my husband postulated is a sequel to “Skullcrusher Mountain”. Also, “Stickin’ It To Myself” which was highly amusing, and the theme reminded me of Ben Fold’s “The Ascent of Stan”.

The second new song Coulton played was “Dissolve” and I felt that was distinctly Coulton, only with some extra plugged in instrumental sounds and a well written harmony. That one had a chorus that really stuck with me, I think it may become a new favorite. The other that fell into this category was “Shopping” which was a song entirely in satire, always a favorite style of mine. Shopping got the most laughs I think.

The final new song was “Today With Your Wife” which was a ballad in true Coulton style: all the tonality of a beautiful song with lyrics that leave you bewildered, still, days later. I think I liked it though.

At this point, Jonathan Coulton wiped away a tear and acted like a jerkwad. Actually, he specifically told all of us to say that in our blog entries. Really, he was just awesome. So were Chris and Marty, who is such an entertaining and energetic drummer. For the encore, Coulton let us all sing the final chorus of “Skullcrusher Mountain”.

Overall, it was a great show, a great crowd, and a great band. I think the songs are going to do well with the PAX prime crowd, so get up early and get your wristband for the concerts. I might mention that the Jonanthan Coulton project is as of yet unnamed, so if you have suggestions, let him know.

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