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Fan Recaps and Comments:
We did a gig with Chicago that should be turned into a one-act play... It took place in Salt Lake City and the character of the promoter could be played by Fred Willard. It was the 4th of July. The guy met us and he and his wife were both wearing matching sweaters. It was WARM - it was the 4th of July! But basically, they couldn't figure out how to wear another kind of red, white and blue clothing, so they were wearing red, white and blue sweaters.
We've enjoyed an unbroken history of good shows in Salt Lake City. It even showed up in the show in Salt Lake City. Amidst the pageantry and the Beatles tribute act and the air force people buzzing the stadium and Chicago, who were unspeakably lame, there was a point in the middle of our show where the audience broke into a spontaneous wave a couple of times. And not being one to go to sporting events, I haven't really seen a lot of waves. It is one thing to witness a wave in a stadium, which is pretty impressive. It is almost like Chinese. Seeing a wave that is sort of for your benefit is jaw-droppingly exciting. They did it a bunch of times, I think, just to blow our minds.
It was a really unusual show in a bona fide sports stadium. It was a super nutso show. The funniest thing was the schedule that we got the day before. Everything was down to the minute including an air force buzzing of the stadium. Like stunt planes were to fly over.
The whole thing was this endless cavalcade of undifferentiated Americana events. There was a dog frisbee catching competition. There was a thing called pageantry, which was basically 10-year-old girls bouncing on gigantic red white and blue rubber balls. There was a Beatles tribute band. They weren't called 1964 which is a Beatles tribute band with the brother of the guy in the Cramps... I am not sure what they were called. They were a Beatles tribute band that completely reproduced The Beatles Shea Stadium show — note for note, song for song, in order. It was only like 20 minutes long. It was a reenactor wet dream of a Beatles show because they were actually in a stadium on a circular stage, playing archival instruments, playing the exact same set, same stuff between songs... except that instead there being a crowd of screaming teenage fans, it was a crowd of people who basically hated them.
But the strangest thing of all is that we enjoy a very strong and tangible following in Salt Lake City. And I am not exactly sure why. We've always done well there. There is a cynical side of me that has an explanation and noncynical side of me that has an explanation. I am not exactly sure which is the truth. Or maybe the truth is somewhere in between...
Review by Chadd VanZenten:
If you didn't know, this was an appearance at the Red Hot Fourth, a 4th of July festival at University of Utah's Rice Stadium. TMGB was one of many acts, including headliners Chicago (this was cause for considerable confusion, because they played IN Chicago the day before, and they played BEFORE Chicago in Salt Lake City).
Anyway, they sounded great, worked the crowd well and had whole sections of the stadium up and dancing. Of course they just trounced all and any of the other featured entertainment, like the Frizz-B-Dogzz stunt/dance troupe, which consisted of Frisbee-fetching dogs and their dancing trainers interpreting Celitc pop music (it'd take too long to explain). A group of people near me had a pronounced "Oh brother" reaction when TMBG was announced, and I thought it was just my luck to be in a section where a redneck idiot would try to heckle TMBG from 50 yards away. The beer-basted jet-ski mullet-boy in front of me was actually heckling the Frizz-B-Dogzz ("Hump her leg, Frisbee dog!!") and I was sure he would continue his act all the way through TMBG (Hump his leg, particle dude!!"). This was somewhat alarming because I was trying to tape the show, but by the end of TMBG's set he and the rest of his entourage was clapping along and dancing.
I heard lots of uninitiated people laughing at the lyrics -- "Did you hear that? He's not a real doctor but he IS a real worm... ha ha ha. 'People just liked it better that way'... hee hee hee." There was an Apache helicopter fly-over just before TMBG played, and Linnell remarked, after playing NYC, "There were supposed to be helicopters during that song... I don't know what happened." Flans was also in great crowd-pleasing form, playing to the closed circuit camera men (he gave a lot of attention to the boom camera operator), giving them stage direction and mugging for them. I saw lots of TMBGer's there, but really the only ways to identify them was if they were standing up and singing along, or if they had a TMBG shirt or hat. So, here's the roll call of In or around section E35: -Guy with girlfriend in a newish white 2040 tour shirt -Guy with dark short hair in a really old TMBG shirt that I didn't recognize, had vertical lettering and weird faces on it or something, really worn out -Guy in a Pearly shirt who was up and dancing with a bunch of other people whose t-shirts I didn't see -Guy in the winter cap with the Salvation Army logo and ripped up clothes -Guy with girlfriend in a white insect Dial-A-Song shirt
Elsewhere: -People looking like they were having a blast dancing in the upper seating of the north side of the stadium
Any of you out there?
I got audio of the show with a Hi-8 video tape and it sounds pretty decent. If anyone's interested in trading, let me know. I'll be processing it ASAP.
Finally, the stadium put out a program with vitae of all the performers -- the TMBG page is a photo of the Johns in the vacant lot with the old buildings in the background. Not the photo where they're holding the accordion between them -- a different one taken during the same session.
Here's the text. It's the shittiest write-up since the one in the liner notes of Dr. Spock's Back-Up Band. All lapses in grammar, punctuation and literary style (not to mention factual errors) are transcribed verbatim: --- They Might Be Giants are pop-rock duo John Flansburgh (singer-guitarist) and John Linnell (accordion, baritone sax, keyboards and vocals) From Brooklyn, New York, they have been recording as a duo since 1986 and have gone from releasing their songs via John F.'s answering machine (dubbed Dial-A-Song) to becoming stars of the college circuit with seven albums and a touring band since 1992.
Both Johns grew up together in suburban Boston and reconnected in Brooklyn after college. In their 12-year history, they have frequently taken inspiration from children's music, incorporated cartoon sounds into their hooky pop, and maintained a childlike fascination with the dividing line between musical instruments and toys. In a word, they are nerds, and as such, eminently outgrowable, flash cards to be filed between Monty Python and Elvis Costello.
Their style has propelled them into icon status, drawing a legion of fans who believe it is okay to laugh while bouncing to the band's eclectic, free-spirited pop songs. Their first CD, Flood, featured the popular "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", reached platinum status, and received the MTV Breakthrough award. Later came Severe Tire Damage, marking the first time the duo has been captured live. TMBG includes staples such as "Ana Ng", "Birdhouse In Your Soul" and "Particle Man". They have just released Long Tall Weekend, a full length, MP3 only album through internet music giants Emusic.
TMBG's cinematic opus, "Dr. Evil", appeared in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. They create the theme song for Malcolm in The Middle and incidental music for that series and for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They will feature 3 songs in Neverland (sequel to Peter Pan) with a tentative Fall 2000 release and 2 songs for Summer Vacation: The Ultimate Recess (Walt Disney's Summer 2000 release).
After being overshadowed by grunge in the early 90's, the duo is back and busy and creative as ever. "I think it is safe to say we're getting older, but we're getting stranger," Flansburgh said. "We can be thankful for that." ---
Anyway, good to see them play, but here's looking forward to a regular show in support of "No!", which, I have on fairly reliable authority, will not be released in August, more likely late fall or winter and perhaps even early next year. (!!) They only finished recording very recently and it will be several months before the rest is done. Take that for what it's worth. If you can refute this, please do, it's rather discouraging info.
Review by Karen J.:
Ever since I became an official TMBG fan about a year ago, I have been dying to see them in concert. Well, on July 4th, I finally got that chance. I had no idea that TMBG were coming to town. I didn't expect them to any time soon, since they rarely come to UT. But one day in early June, my best friend called me (I had turned her into a TMBG fan earlier that year =) and excitedly told me that They would be at the Red Hot 4th, a fourth of July thingy with fireworks and stuff at the U of U. I went crazy. I barely believed my ears, but soon I learned that it was true.
So, I waited until it was the 4th. It felt like forever. Then, at long last, the big day came.
The Red Hot Fourth wasn't just TMBG. The big band there was Chicago, which is Ok too, I guess, but it was obvious that I was there to see TMBG. We made a sign (with the help of my sis, her boyfriend, and my friend) and we were off to the show.
We got there about 10 minutes before They came on. I couldn't wait, and endured the Red Hot Dancers until it was time. I had originally planned to write down every song They played in a notebook, but as soon as they came on, I was too caught up in the excitement to care. My friend and I were able to remember the songs they did after the show, though. Anyway, when They came on the stage, I jumped to my feet and screamed and cheered. I can't describe it, but it's the feeling you only get from a TMBG concert. It was amazing. They explained to the crowd that they were from Brooklyn (duhhh) and therefore, the first song they did was New York City. Next, I believe, was the Bring Out the Glockenspiel thing to Shoehorn With Teeth. That was neat. After that was Birdhouse in Your Soul, then Boss Of Me. When Linnell began to announce the next song, he said that since it was Independence Day, they were going to play a song about the 11th president, which he was sure we didn't know. My TMBG instinct kicked in, and I yelled out, "James K. Polk!!!" Much of the audience around me laughed, though I'm not sure if They heard. Anyway, after JKP, they played a kickn' version of The Guitar, and then Dr. Worm. This kicked ass because the crowd started the wave while they played it. John F. was really surprised about that, saying that no one had ever started the wave during that song before. Anyway, last but definately not least, Istanbul. It was like a huge party crammed into a TMBG song. Everyone was dancing and screaming and swaying...ahhh, it was a sight. And then, it was over. As soon as they left the stage, I felt empty. I mean, how could the rest of Red Hot 4th even come close to what They had done? So, just as some idiots came on the stage to lead in 4th of July karaoake : ::shudder:: : I didn't hesitate to get up and look around where vendors were selling TMBG and Chicago T-shirts. Plus, I was kinda hoping to maybe, just maybe, spot the Johns and get them to sign my Lincoln cd that I had with me.
Well, I didn't see them out there, but I did buy a TMBG shirt. When I returned to my seat in the stadium, a Beatles wannabe band called Imagine were playing. And next to the stage, I saw Linnell chatting with someone, kinda watching the show. That was kinda cool. But as the Imagine act came to a close, John L walked off to the TMBG's van, and I saw it pull away. After Chicago and the fireworks, it was all over. I wish that the TMBG part of the concert hadn't been so short and toned down, but now I can proudly say that I've seen They in concert. And what an experience it was! And it's great to know that TMBG chose to spend their 4th of July here in UT with me =)
Review by i_forget_utah:
well, tonight i went to the They Might Be Giants show in SLC. actually, it was a big 4th of july thingie at the University of Utah football stadium, and They were there. my friend & i are quite the TMBG fans, and They were basically the only reason we went (They were billed 2nd of 3 acts). however, the show just sucked, for several different reasons...
1) the sound sucked. muddy muddy muddy. not loud at all. we actually had to strain to hear it.
2) the stage was way the hell on the opposite side of the stadium and there was NO field seating, so the closest audience members were 30 yards away, on the sides.
3) They had to start playing while it was still sunny, so no one could see them on the jumbotron.
4) They only played for about 30 minutes. not sure if they were supposed to play that small of a set, but that was all. (sorry i don't have a setlist, but i remember Them playing "NYC", "birdhouse", "shoehorn", "boss of me", "doctor worm", "james k polk", and "istanbul". They probably played a couple more, but i can't recall.)
5) then, during "doctor worm", the crowd actually started doing the wave! quite lame. after that, Flansy said "i've never seen a crowd do the wave to that song... i really want to swear right now." i don't blame him.
6) This is the kicker though, get this... in all the ads, they were billed second (under- ugh- chicago, and above some beatles impersonator band called 'imagine', as in 'use your imagination and pretend we have some talent'), but they were actually forced to go on BEFORE the beatles impersonators! they OPENED for some wannabeatles! how depressing. my friend and i were pissed off. we had originally planned leaving right after TMBG anyway, but we didn't think it would be that soon or that we'd be that disgruntled about the whole fiasco. i'm going to write They Might Be Giants and apologize on behalf of the entire state of Utah. i feel really bad for them. they're too established to be treated like that.