Epic Fail

By JoCo January 18, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to shake up the set list a bit. Last night in SF it got shook up a bit too much – I blanked on The Presidents lyrics and had to bail out TWICE. you know that I make mistakes constantly at live shows, and I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring them. For whatever reason this one really rattled me. I was off my game for quite a few songs, sort of hanging suspended over the deep black hole of total think shutdown. Of course the audience was very supportive despite my rough edges, and as usual, seemed to take particular delight in getting to see such a spectacular meltdown in person – that’s what live music is about after all. I forced myself to come back to it later in the set and got through it, which felt great. Take that you stupid song.

SF again tonight, some tickets still available last I checked. I promise I’ll make some big mistakes tonight too.


Parsons says

We were really glad you went back and finished it. It took balls to redo that song. I would have bailed for sure. Very happy to hear The Presidents, especially with the recent updates. Way to go!

Marguerite says

We loved the update, it was definitely worth the re-try! Thanks again for another awesome concert, and we can't wait to see the DVD! I wonder if any of the footage of the camera smacking into my head will make the outtakes... *chuckle*

JaredO says

We still love you JoCo and it was well worth the wait for the new line!!! Also, getting Rickroll'd in person was fantastic. Can't wait for the DVD and return to SF. Thanks for an awesome night. Oh yeah, and thanks to Paul and Storm and Travis...

LuckyDave says

RE: The Presidents, as a friend of mine likes to point out: "What you create is bigger than you." Bobby McFerrin is a very accomplished jazz vocalist but he's going to have to sing Don't Worry, Be Happy for the rest of his professional career. ;)

Audiences never care about perfect performance (only music critics do that). Live music is about the audience and performer having a collective good time: if the band is having fun, the crowd will too.

Last night was a fantastic show, hairy legs and all.

Jason Scott says

Did this get mentioned on this weblog yet?


I don't know, some people would flip out over hearing their song on the radio, but I would die hearing it come earnestly out of school choruses.

Percephene says

Do we have links to the youtubes for those of us unable to make it?
JoCo, don't let the odd flubb rattle you, it just proves you are in fact, despite your ample share of awesomeness, human. <3

Mike says

More like epic win! I thought the show was amazing, mistakes and all. Plus you came back and finished it with the totally awesome update!

Besides, if you are still filming your DVD it's great for the blooper reel. That's all I ever watch on DVDs anyway. :)

Tina says

So have you rewritten the last few lines of "The Presidents" yet, now that Dubya's legacy is pretty well known and it's no longer 2005 (but we're still out of money)?

Oh, and totally off the subject, I've been wondering this for a while, but was reminded of it by the latest Spiff video: what's with the last verse of the recorded version of "Shop-Vac"? Why does it sound like there's radio interference -- was that intentional, and if so, how come? Is there a joke I'm missing?

Luke M says

It was so awesome when you conquered the song, that the earlier train wreck actually made it a better show, I thought.

Jade and Colleen did not bring any yummy PB cookies, because that would have been wrong. Thanks for not sharing them, I'm sure they would have been terrible ;)

Setlist posted in show thread.

Eileen says

I like how you threw the harmonica off when you finished. You win!

I snuck in my canon powershot to shoot some video and caught your second run through of the song. Actually I have the first one too, but my initial reaction was to *not* post it.


Loved the show last night. So glad Tom (@acedtect) introduced me to you!

Eli says

Hey, it was still amazing. It was sad that you couldn't play "still alive", though. Plus, where do you get the amazing thingy from the fancy pants song? I WANT IT NOW SO BAD!!!!

Geoff C says

Ah, well. It was an awesome show anyway!

Don't get yourself down too much- everyone there had a great time in spite (or perhaps because) of it.

Also, the new Prez. lyrics will probably going to be outdated in a few days. Does that mean another re-write? Hm...

Luke M says

@ Eli

It's called a Zendrum.

Richard Crawford says

Hey, it was my first time seeing you in concert, and as far as I'm concerned, it was nothing but pure awesome. You may have thought you messed up, but I was so happy that my wife and I had driven down from Sacramento and braved the San Francisco traffic just to see you play.

Of course the audience was supportive! We all love you and think you're the best. And the update to "The Presidents" was well worth the wait.

Can't wait to catch you in concert again.

Hyung Lee says

Hi JoCo!

Yesterday's concert was awesome! You and Paul&Storm did an amazing job for three hours and the few of us who went had a great time.

On the flip side, I made some purchases after the concert and I didn't get my credit card back. :( By any chance do you guys still have it and possibly be able to mail it to me? If not, let me know so I can cancel it. :)

Thanks for the great show and can't wait until you stop by SF again with a brand new setlist. :)

David says

Fantastic show last night in SF!! The edits to The Presidents was well worth all of your efforts to get it right. To quote my brother "He's a genius!"

My wife is tired of listening to me go on and on about how great the show was! The last number, Soft Rocked By Me, bringing in some James Taylor, Eagles, Alanis Morissette, and The Beatles was wonderful. I only wished it could have lasted a longer.

Looking forward to your next visit.

JoCo FTW!!

Michael Bishop says

Jonathan, for what it's worth, my GF and I came away from that show thinking not about the missing lyrics, but about the importance of getting back up on ones feet. Try, try again. We both remarked in the car on the way home that we never had seen a performer work that hard and come back so well. It was a sobering reminder that those who become successful don't give up even when life doesn't give them what they want all the time. Thank you for being that reminder to me.

Oh, and by-the-way the show was such a great time! I brought some newcomers with me and they loved it as well. More new fans!

Keep on strummin'

Luke M says

@ Michael:

Amen. It was especially appropriate in a show book-ended by "Big Bad World One" (about not trying) and "A Talk With George" (about damn well trying). The moment in the THIRD pass at "The Presidents" where Jonathan *almost* wiped out again, recovered just in time, and went on to ecstatic applause was, if you'll pardon the emotion, thrilling and inspiring. The closest comparison I can make is of watching a pro surfer snatch victory from the jaws of FAIL.

The successful conclusion of "The Presidents" late in the show was, honestly, one of the most artistically vulnerable, honest and satisfying moments I have had in decades of watching live music. We were all pulling so hard for him to make it, and when he did, it was beautiful. That was a golden moment and I'm grateful for it.

Gina says

Husband and I old enough to have missed knowing you altogether but for our 15 yr old who's a huge fan. We LOVED this show - CD's/Itunes a mere shadow of your music in person. Rarely have I seen a performer work so hard to give so much, and give it so authentically. Thanks for a great time.

Matokira says

I drove nearly 300 miles to watch your purported "epic fail", but I had a good laugh. And really, that's what I came for. The two people I dragged to the show hadn't heard anything outside of "Still Alive" or "Skullcrusher Mountain" (thanks Rock Band), but they also had a really good time. So, you did your job well. Better than expected, in fact.

Also, the cover of "Birdhouse in Your Soul" was unexpected and extremely pleasing. Thank you, sir, for a great show.

Matthew Tom says

This was the first JoCo show I've attended, and au contraire; it was epic win. I was a zombie at work today fueled only by energy drinks, but it was well worth it. Everything, from the Rickroll in the Pants, the Fun and Magic of Cats, and being Soft Rocked by the Beatles, it was nothing but Epic Win.

I'm glad the combination of my sister and Portal introduced me to your music.

Colleenky says

Folks here have already eloquently extolled the virtues of this show. Thank you. Thank you. A thousand times thank you. You have one of the best live acts going.

@Jason Scott: Thanks for linking my kids' video! (Miss Pedantic Pants notes that we're a community choir rather than a school choir. ;-) ) JC twittered the video a few days ago and gave the group a nice shout-out at last night's show saying, "That's currently my favorite cover version of any of my songs." :-D

I will be posting full audio of the show - probably tomorrow. (The kids squealed with delight when they heard the recording today!)

Johnny says

What is the device? Not the Zendrum. The pong thing.

Steven says

As made clear from Sunday night's show, it's not a pong thing, it's an etch-a-sketch.

Nicole Lee says

That is the Tenori-On:

Here's a YouTube video of me and my co-worker opening it:

Great show Sunday night too, though we didn't quite get the clean version of Presidents :) S'all good!

Colleenky says

@Johnny In all seriousness, the thing that's not a Zendrum is a Tenori-on.

Jeanne says

Hyung Lee!! We tried to find you but you left so quickly -- call the Great American Music Hall, they have your card in their lost and found.

Marguerite says

Heh, "Pong thing" is a great way of describing it. It's called a "Tenori On", details here: http://www.global.yamaha.com/tenori-on/index.html.

Interestingly, the list of artist interviews has two spaces for "Coming Soon". I wonder if our JoCo has been holding out on us?

Anna says

Thank you so much for posting again! You're on my AM website list, and it's so nice to see JoCo updates again. I'm not much of a Twitter (Twitter-er?), so I appreciate the little snippets of goings-on.

Ben says

Oh wow, that makes me feel a lot better about not being able to learn the lyrics to that song! I've been working on it (on and off) for like a month, and I'm still only confident up to U.S. Grant.

Hey, his initials are U.S.

Um. Cool.

Jmonkee says

Eileen, post the first Presidents video! You have to post any video you have. It's what Coulton fans do. :)

The occasional train wreck is all part of the fun, and in this case just made the comeback all the better.

Lawrence Kesteloot says

We don't go to shows to see songs played, we go to be entertained. And the entertainment value of seeing two fumbles and a recovery is way higher. Not because we like to see the fumbles, but because we like to see the recovery. The whole show was epic, easily the best concert I've ever been to. Paul and Storm are hysterical.

opus13 says

Dude, the show was AWESOME, mistakes and all, even though you didn't play Still Alive from Portal. ;)

Seriously, it was one of THE most entertaining shows I've ever gone to, Paul and Storm were hilarious, you were thoroughly engaging on every level, the whole package was just STELLAR.

I've already told everybody I know to be sure to go see you whenever you perform in their respective areas.

Be proud.

Steve says

Hey Jon, awesome show in SF last night - and don't worry about making mistakes, it happens to everyone. I've only played live once in my life, and I had a full band backing me to cover my mistakes. To even get up and play solo like you do? Forget it.

I said to my buddy as we were driving home (you may remember him, he was the one who kept screaming "FIRST OF MAYYY!!!") that I thought it was great that you were able to laugh at yourself and still keep the show rolling.

We had a lot of fun seeing you guys play last night.



Kristian Petterson says

I have a warm glow all about my body, having seen the video of the third (and *just* successful) pass - you're a powerful man, JoCo - cojones, etc.

Rhett says

I've so been there. Doing play by play I have to memorize the numbers and names of players I've never seen before. Some nights I got it, then there was Saturday night. It wasn't pretty. (didn't help that the roster they gave me turned out to be the wrong version)

Jonathan says

Seriously, the fact that you came back to the song and wouldn't let it die made it all worthwhile. Now The Presidents have a special place in my heart. You've even made my skeptical wife a fan, so I salute you! Come back sooooon.

Erin says

Regardless, it was a fantastic show, and your concert made me SO happy. I was especially gleeful when you and Paul and Storm did the Birdhouse In Your Soul cover, my favorite TMBG song EVER. I was squeeling with joy. I'm sure your Sunday show was awesome, and when you do come back to SF, I'll be sure to get a ticket! Thank you JC!

Mary Stout says

No no! Not epic fail! Your performance in SF was freakin' fantastic! Hopefully you will consider coming back to LA. I loved every moment of your show in SF on Saturday. <3 Your fans love you no matter what!

MissTickle says

I'm sorry to hear that you felt so rattled!

I'm sure you've gathered - from the uproarious applause at the show and reassuring comments here - that you never lost the audience, but it still sucks to feel out of sync. Good on you for coming back strong, black hole and all... no small feat.

Thanks again for a fantastic show, and come back soon! SF hearts you.

Gina says

OT: Congratulations on the blurb in Wired, Jon!

Colleenky says

If anyone's interested, here's my blog post of the Saturday night show, with links to pics and full audio.

Oscelot says

Aww, dun feel so bad! It happens to everyone. You just have too much stuff in your head. ^_^

Zach says

In my collection of recordings of your shows, I've titled the one you're referring to as "Epic Recovery! - Live at the Great American Music Hall" and I'm planning to include your updated version of "The Presidents" (thanks to Colleenky) as one of the TWO songs in today's blog post for Innaugeration Day today (the other one of course being "Hail to the Chief").

You are fucking awesome, dude! Keep up the amazing work.


Zach says

Oh, as for a second update to "The Presidents" it'd be simple enough to just say "W's reign of terror's FINALLY over" in replacement to "W's reign of terror's ALMOST over".

Also, I'm calling a request for a studio take of the updated version for "The Aftermath", who else is with me?

Wyrd says

The only time failure gets to be a problem is when it gets to *you* and/or when you fail to learn from the failing. It doesn't matter how many times you fall off the horse as long as you keep getting back on. This, and other goofy sentimental word-isms available anytime courtesy of my brain.

You have written and sung a variety of *very* good songs. Here are a few of my favorites that spring to mind: "Re Your Brains", "The Madelbrot Set", "I Feel Fantastic", (that's the one I'm going to listen to right now), "Creepy Doll", "Skullcrusher Mountain", and all the ones that Steve Eley or Mur Lafferty have played on their podcasts.

Furry cows moo and decompress.

Seandageek says

Could be worse. You could have messed up the Presidential Oath of Office in front of millions of people. Gotta love it when "big time celebrities" turn out to be human.

Loved the show. My first one. So when are you coming to New Mexico? Several of us flew out to SF just to see you. Next time we should pool our money and fly you to see us (note that we don't sing as well).

Matthew Geer says

Any chance we'll see an MP3 of the new Presidents? I have the original Thing a Week version kicking around on my pseudoPod, and it's slowly grinding into my brain that Garfield was assassinated in 1882. Plus, you know, Obama FTW.

Colleenky says

@Matthew: I've uploaded the audio of the entire show, if you're interested. See above.

Hedgeek says

You are way too hard on yourself. It's a tough song (not a tough as say big butts) but still a challenge. Perhaps if you don't do the shots right before the show your memory will be better ;-) Code Monkeys Rule.