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Fan Recaps and Comments:


My first TMBG show ever and boy, it was amazing. We all packed into the tiny second floor of Starr Hill (the first being a restaurant), and I was about 5-10 feet away from the stage. Time passed. Some sound guy was on the stage and looked like he was performing a soundcheck or something like that. Around 9:30, our group started singing "Older." I then shouted, "Hey, can I get a wristband? I just turned 21!" "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" then came out of the speakers and everyone sang the lyrics from "The Guitar."
Then bearded guy on the stage took the mic and said, "yeah, I really liked that." It was at about that time that I realized (thirty minutes or so in) that he wasn't a sound guy. He was the opening act and he had just moseyed on stage without any introduction or anything. Nighttime Gallagher was basically a bad DJ, though his good moments were when he played "Kiss Me, Son Of God" and had two records play at the same time, one of which was a recording of ducks quacking at each other.
TMBG took the stage with Starr Hill Music Hall, and Flans told us that we were trapped. "The doors are locked," and we'd be forced to listen to songs that we'd never heard before. However, they would rescind our torture and play a few that we'd knew. But, being the torturers that they were, they would rescind the rescindment and torture us again. They then played the first two tracks off of "The Else" and then the Stone Pony. Linnell brought out his accordion (his "Main Squeeze"), Miller played the acoustic intro to Istanbul, and Flans brought back "We Live in a Dump." During "Fingertips", Flans struggled to confess that he was dropping out of college in "I'm Having a Heart Attack."
During the first encore, Linnell led both the band and the audience (who whooped) in the improvised part in "Spy." Flans introduced the band and then in "Sun," Flans sang: "Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine. The heat and light of the sun come from the "nuke-ular" reactions of a failed presidency, a failed domestic policy, and a failed foreign policy."
The band came back for a second encore with "Drink!" (drink drink), "Alphabet of Nations," and "Dr. Worm." After the penultimate song, this guy held up a $20 bill towards Flans (maybe to shake his hand, get a song played, I don't know), and he took it, very confused, and stuffed it into his pocket. "Wow, it's a twenty dollar bill, folks," and to the guy, "Welcome to New York City."
The set was fantastic and the band was on fire. The thing that I really noticed was that Marty Beller (not Dan Hickey, as some drunk guy professed his love to) is a really amazing drummer. In addition, all off the new material has this air about it that none of the other songs have. I don't know what it is, but it makes me really excited for the new album.


This was my first TMBG show as well, and it was worth every mile of the five hour drive.
After most of the crowd had left Mr. Flansburgh came back out and very kindly stopped for autographs and pictures. I'm pretty sure we saw him give the $20 back, maybe even autographed.


At this show I tried to record bits of the banter with my Palm, some of it came through well enough to understand, some of it was too garbled, but I will share the parts that are clear.
So this was a show in advance of a new album, and as expected there was a lot of new material in the setlist. I went to the show on 1994-06-18 at Wolf Trap, a show that also preceded a new album and had a lot of new material. I cannot help but to make some comparisons.
First of all, I really enjoyed this show, so don't let my comparisons make this seem like a bad show. But with that said, I couldn't get into the new material this time as much. By way of comparison I was incredibly excited in 1994, I remember being insane for Sleeping In The Flowers and Extra Savoir-Faire. I have thought about this and part of the difference could lie in the venue. On average the sound quality is better at Wolf Trap (depending on where you are sitting, some places at Wolf Trap are bad) and probably allowed for more of the nuance and detail to come through in performance, whereas at Starr Hill a lot of sound gets lost or bounced around too much. My friend Sean suggested that perhaps stylistic differences in the John Henry material from 1994 and The Else material from this show made a difference--he said that the John Henry stuff was more "rockin" and up-tempo than the new songs here. I feel like there is good potential with The Cap'm and The Mesopotamians as quality live songs.
I also felt like some of the older songs they played tonight got more enthusiastic receptions because they were juxtaposed against new stuff that the audience didn't know--for example, Turn Around and Meet James Ensor seemed to get incredible responses. Now don't get me wrong, I love those songs, but I think they got the benefit of being preceded by unknown songs.
I think John Flansburgh seemed flat. Maybe he partied too hard for his birthday or maybe he's been working too hard organizing the tour. Maybe both. During Why Does The Sun Shine? Flansy got a little confused and after saying "A million Earths could fit inside" he paused and looked confused and said "But that's not why." I think in his head he might have been jumping ahead to the "And that's why it looks so small" line, but it was good anyway. I'm short and I was behind some tall people (One of them barged up after the opener finished saying "Big Guy Coming Through!" Who does that?) so I didn't really have a great view of John Linnell, and his stage presence is usually marked by subtle facial expressions and gestures. I did enjoy his work conducting Spy, and also in Alphabet Of Nations after they finished the standard list Linnell ran through a few ABC's of different nations, and even got up to G at one point (he definitely said "Fiji" and then something after that--might have been "Guatemala.")
Band in general
Dan Miller was on fire. He has always been an excellent guitarist, but at this show he presented more overall showmanship than I've seen from him in the past. The Scat singing at the beginning and end of Istanbul was a great touch, I was very happy to hear it. Danny Weinkauf and Marty Beller played well but had little opportunity to really rock out it seemed.
Specifics from band patter
Flansburgh said that he was proud of us for selling out a show on a Tuesday night. At one point Big John called Little John "W.C. Fields" I'm not sure why--actually I'm not completely sure this happened at all. Flans made fun of Trax a couple times, specifically saying that at Trax there was duct tape holding the fuse boxes together, and "At Trax, safety was next to last, and having a good time was last." I thought that was funny even though I happen to have enjoyed Trax back in the day.
After Charlottesville:
Linnell - "We finished making our new record, but it hasn't come out yet. In spite of this we're playing a whole bunch of songs from our upcoming record."
Crowd - Cheers
Flansburgh - "First of all we want to thank everybody for coming out to the show, and boy, it's exciting to be at a sold out show on a Tuesday night..." Crowd screams drown out what he was saying here "...very very cool. So, uh, we're going to be torturing you with songs you don't know. But for brief intervals we will rescind your sentence. But like the recidivists that we are we will go back to your punishment... It's two for torture Tuesday here... We're going to play track one from our brand new album that you don't know, then we're going to play track two off our brand new album that you don't know... It's just like Trax... Try to run, try to hide, save yourselves, it's too late for us. When we played at Trax, on the stage the fuse box had duct tape holding the fuses in. Good times, second to last. Safety, totally last. I tell you the truth laidies and gentlemen."
After Take Out The Trash:
Flans: "Why won't they play more venue songs? I liked that song about Starr Hill. I wish I could hear more songs like that. Well, ladies and gentlemen, dreams do come true. We've got a song about a very special place, all the way up north--Asbury Park, New Jersey."
Linnell: "A very special place that launched the airborne virus that is Jon Bon Jovi."
Flans: "Of course, I'm talking about the Stone Pony everybody.
There were a few people, including the "Big Guy Coming Through!" Guy who kept putting their hands up into the spotlight beam and making shadow puppets on band members--usually on Linnell's shirt. That was funny. Twice. Then it stopped being funny. There are only so many shadow dogs a person can handle. More on spotlights: Near the end of the show Flans said that they are starting nationwide research to see how many spotlight operators have beards vs. those without. Then he asked the spot-ops to turn their spots on each other so we could see them, and they tried but there was a wall in the way that reflected the light back up to the stage. Someone in the audience shouted "There's a wall between them" and I don't think Flans heard, so Linnell repeated on mic "there's a wall between them" and then Flans said something like "but it can't stop their love."


Hey guys, this was my first TMBG show too! And I was very happy. I had been anticipating the day for months. I had to sit in school until until 2 o'clock when my very incredible mother pulled me out of school and drove me to WNRN, where she works, where the Johns themselves were going to be interveiwed before the show. That mostly consisted of me waiting nervously either against a wall while they got comfortable, or waiting nervously in the next room while they were being interveiwed. Their interveiw was great, consisting of the Charlottesville Venue song and Contrecoup. Flans had left his acoustic left-handed guitar in New York, so Jaz, their interveiwer, hand found a guitar for him from Heinz Musitronics and Flans, in the middle of talking about this, quickly played a few chords and said in a ver announcer-type voice "Heinz Musitronics." And Linnell played beautifully as usual, though he did seem to have some trouble with the high note during the line "You saw my injury" during the song Contrecoup, but I'm sure most immeadiately forgave him for it. I did notice that they both seemed extremely tired. Flans's hair was ruffled and everyone, including Linnell, had to find him when he just left WNRN with no warning. Linnell was a bit more with it, but he was, as I mentioned before, having a bit of trouble with his voice which usually happens whe you're tired. They later left me a comment on myspace saying "we were tired-crazy tired from a broken down bus. but it was fun."

Ecks's description of the opening act is just right. They lights were very dim and there was this bearded man sitting infront of a microphone doing what looked at first like a sound check, but then he started talking to the audience a little, and we caught on. At first his whole deal was that he just played trippy records, but then he started to play to records at the same time. During his first attempt at this he had to start over about 3 or 4 times saying stuff like, "I have the tempos all wrong" and "it sounds cool when I get it right, I swear." He eventually did get it right, and it was pretty cool, but I thought later about how the whole point of going and playing stuff for people was that you'll get it right 99.9% of the time. The he did do a remixed version of "Kiss me, Son of God" which was pretty cool, but I don't understand why you would play a song by the band you were opening for, even if it was funked up. And then he did this weird thing with this record of these ducks quacking at each other, which was just trippy. There was this guy near me who kept shouting at the guy and telling him that he sucked, which was very rude, but at times I couldn't help but agree with him.

The Johns took a painfully long time to get on stage. The crowd started to yell for them to come on stage and clapped in unison a few times. But finally they came on. It was great. The light show was awesome, they played well and Flans always knows how too rally up a crowd, and Linnell always has just subtle joke to make you laugh and want more. Again, it was obvious they were very tired. They kept forgeting what was next on the setlist, and I agree that Flans was a bit flat. But, they were able to laugh at each other and keep the crowd entertained. I'm suprised that I don't have more to say about the show itself, but I agree with everything that everyone else has said. It was a great show, what is there more to expect out of They Might Be Giants?