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- Untitled Intro
- I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die (John & John only)
- She's An Angel
- Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head
- Hide Away Folk Family
- Boat Of Car
- 32 Footsteps
- Youth Culture Killed My Dog
- Number Three
- Rhythm Section Want Ad
- (She Was A) Hotel Detective
- Toddler Hiway (Live) (with additional lyrics) performed by The Avatars Of They
- Chess Piece Face
- The Day
- Alienation's For The Rich
- Everything Right Is Wrong Again
- Absolutely Bill's Mood
- Rabid Child
- Don't Let's Start
- Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes
- Damn Good Times
- Birdhouse In Your Soul
- The Guitar
- Clap Your Hands
- You're On Fire
- James K. Polk
- The Mesopotamians
Fan Recaps and Comments:
FallenOutWithMyHead: I've been meaning to share my experience of this show for two months, but it's only now--when the futility of my work has got me down to a point where I must relive that happy evening for the sake of my own sanity--that I'm getting around to it. And, even worse, this is more a recap of my own personal experience as a concertgoer than a true review of the quality of the performance.
In a nutshell, it was incredible. This was my third TMBG show (this year, and ever) and it was absolutely amazing. My decision to got to the Rock Show was weeks after I'd already purchased my kids' show tickets, since the plan was that the hubs and I would take our spawn. As a result, my p.m. seats were much further back than I would have liked--but with the help of a new and dear fan friend, my date and I were able to secure front row seats for dirt cheap just before Moon Hooch went on. (That's one hell of an upgrade, seeing as we went from 12th row seats to being close enough to have to wipe Linnell spittle from my cheek.) My date was a very dear friend who'd never seen TMBG live before, but who was also instrumental in my descent into TMBGism. I had two shows under my belt by then, so I felt like a veteran. (That is, until I looked to my left at a certain someone who was at her 153rd show, and to my right at another someone who was nearing 50 shows...)
Admittedly, Pink is not my favorite TMBG album; I don't think it's even in my top five. But seeing those guys joke about playing songs from so long ago, and hearing how the demo-esque tracks were taken to the stage with a full band arrangement, was pretty awesome. The Avatars had a false start with their world premiere, but it made it even more charming, really. I loved the John/John Istanbul duet, even though that's the only way I've seen them play the song live. Not one of my favorite songs, but it's fun to see them being silly and having fun on stage. From my position at Linnell's feet I saw, very clearly, Danny's near-stage dive. It was pretty damn scary, to be honest; it looked like he tripped over a bit of carpet on Marty's riser, which Flans subsequently very theatrically threw back out of the way. Truth be told though, I'm sure that if Danny actually fell off the stage those within reach would not have let him hit the ground.
Early in the set Flans said that they didn't care if we took photos. I shouted, "What about video?," since the ushers were hassling me about my Flip. Flans said we could bring in big ol' rigs if we wanted, and Linnell's request was that we film in HD. My really shitty (though presumably HD!) videos are on YouTube (under melloang) if anyone is interested.
Between the kids' show and the rock show I bought a Johns-signed Nanobots vinyl from the merch stand, and after the show (and into the night) was able to secure Danny, Dan, and Marty sigs to complete the set, in addition to adding the autographs of John, Flansy, and Dan to my son's sticker chart. To be honest, I was extremely nervous about approaching Linnell. I figured he wasn't the misanthrope the internet makes him out to be, but I worried that he'd be impatient and unwelcoming. John was very pleasant and polite; he signed my son's TMBG sticker chart, shook my hand and thanked me for coming out, and complimented my homemade green-avatar inspired hat. John declined my request for a photo, but I didn't feel slighted or upset at all. Later, I was able to get a photo with Dan and one with an obviously-tired-but-incredibly-gracious Flansy. I chatted very briefly with Mr. Brunette, and got a photo with him, too. (All of these are in my current screensaver rotation at work, and I can't help but smile when I see any of the three.) It was a wonderful, fabulous night and I can't wait to do it again.
- I was worried that there wouldn't be enough duo songs. They started off with just the johns, and i was very excited. They put on an awesome performance of "Hope that i get old before i die", and I hoped there would be more duo songs. There weren't a lot, but by the time the full band came out, i wasn't worried. They burst out into "She's an angel", and it was awesome. Put your hand inside the puppet head? AWESOME. The audience screamed their hearts out for Hide Away Folk Family. Boat of car sounds great live. Flans sang the Cash sample, it was fun. There was a bunch of harmonica and hits banter before 32 footsteps. My personal favorite line of the evening: "Yeah, we just called it 'Hit'. Play 'Hit'!". And then they launched into the song, it was awesome. Youth Culture was fun. Number Three was really great. Rhythm Section Want Ad was glorious on stage, considering that it might be one of my favorite songs on the album. Hotel Detective had some great bass clarinet from Linnell. And suddenly, THE AVATARS. There was some buildup, talking about Axl Rose, and a false start, until they burst out into an extended lyrics, full band arranged version of Toddler Hiway. It was really great. Chess Piece face, The Day, and Alienation were all great. Everything Right was great. Absolutely bills mood was another of my favorite songs, so seeing it live was amazing. Rabid Child was fun. Don't Let's Start got everyone dancing, and it was a great performance. They closed the first set with my other favorite, Nothin's Gonna Change My Clothes. It was fun! They did Damn Good Times, and Birdhouse. They played The Guitar, which i love, and had a "Psychedelic Freakout" in the middle, and a great drum solo from Marty led into clap your hands, which is when i got up towards the stage. (I'm that kid who kept turning around and looking at the balcony). You're On Fire is fun. Closonne had more great Bass Clarinet. Then they played... James K Polk? Didn't expect that. Flans tripped up during tesla, but he started it over. Fingertips was incredible. The Mesopotamians was just great, everyone was jumping and having a great time. Then they left the stage, only to come back for a very silly version of Istanbul, lending credit to my theory of "Royce Hall causes the band to play longer versions of this song" with a interlude featuring john and john muttering "Noooooooo..." "YESSSSSSS..." for a good minute or so. Could have been fun with the avatars, but they launched into New York City, and it rocked. I'd actually never heard it live before, considering this is my second TMBG show. They left the stage again, and came back with Dead. It was a great performance, and they left the stage for good, although flans chilled out handing out stickers (HE TOUCHED ME! I'M NEVER WASHING THIS HAND AGAIN!). All in all, a great performance.
- Great show and I'm glad we made the trip from Vegas to see them for the first time in 6 years! Just a short bit about the near-accident, since I had a good view of it from the balcony: Danny was stepping up onto the drum riser while playing. There was a mat on top of the drum riser that he stepped onto the edge of, and the corner of it started to slide, taking his foot with it. Suddenly Danny was careening forward uncontrollably. A few seconds of tremendous flailing followed as Danny tried to get his balance back. He managed to avoid either dropping his instrument or tumbling headlong into the audience, but I felt like I was going to pull a muscle just watching him. Ouch!
Ok y'all this was only THE VERY VERY BEST SHOW I HAVE EVER EVER BEEN TO. I've been to 47 shows now so I think that is definitely saying something but oh my GOD it so totally was, EASILY. Pink is my very favourite album, my favourite album by ANYONE EVER, so to actually be able to see all of it, WOW WOW WOW. I still can't even believe it actually happened.
So I love that they opened with Gloria--so so PERFECT. But I think probably a decent-sized portion of the audience was very confused by it--hell, at this point probably a decent-sized portion of the audience wouldn't even know what Dial-A-Song was, which is just completely fucking tragic. But whatever, I'm sure all of those of us in the know realized how great it was.
JF: This show will be divided into two sections, because we like using the word "bifurcated" at a rock show. But also because they are distinct and different from each other. We will be playing all of our self-titled 1986 debut album. We're not playing it in sequence--we're going from our favourite to our least favourite, because it's not all about you. We refer to the first section as the "Dreamin'" section--sort of a spacewalk into the past--and then the second section as the "Dancin'" section. Feel free to applaud uncontrollably during the first section as you join us on our downward spiral. JL: We want stony silence for the rest of the show. JF: I remember we were doing a show and they told us "Oh, it'll be quiet between songs, but don't worry"...sucked.
So they started with a duo version of "I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die," which was fantastic, as anything duo always is. Really what I would have completely adored would be if they were accurate and did the whole show duo, drum machine, backing track and all. But this little bit of it was much appreciated.
They were doing "She's an Angel" all the time when I was first going to shows but I don't think I've seen it since then, and it is of course one of the absolute best songs on the album, so that was very exciting. I was amused that the buttons for all the chorus parts are right next to each other (I know this because I am currently trying to learn it on my own accordion), but John was still just using the keyboard side like he usually does. I love how everyone always thinks of him as "Oh, the accordion player!" but almost always he doesn't even use half of the accordion.
Next was "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head"--another one of the TOTALLY MOST AMAZING SONGS ON THE ALBUM, so extremely exciting too. It was great to see how much Flans was running all over the place (though of course I didn't get to see it that much since my attention has to be pretty much entirely focused on John). The only thing that would've made it better would be if Flans had done the "AWESOME GUITAR SOLO! AWESOME GUITAR SOLO!" thing during the bridge like he would back in the day.
Before "Hide Away Folk Family":
JF: In the early days we were such a prolific band with such a large sequence of songs, that we would leave large areas of musical interest out to complete them faster. This next song is technically three minutes long, but it only has a minute and a half of musical ideas--predicting the copy and paste method of modern songwriting.
Then he explained the "scream as if you're in Hell" part, and said that you could feel free to keep screaming as long as you want to, "but some people around you might want you to stop screaming, and there will be people coming down the aisle with flashlights to tell you to stop screaming." During the backwards singing part at the end (which is soooooo great) John randomly threw in "Alan Parsons Project" because he is SILLY.
Before "32 Footsteps":
JF: Whatever band I'm in, I have one song that I know how to play harmonica. JL: Yeh, when you were in Blues Traveler you had that one song. JF: It was the hit, John. JL: That's how we refer to it, just "the hit." Well, this song was a hit for They Might Be Giants. We'll never be able to surpass it. Sales, Rotten Tomatoes ratings...I wish we could erase this song from the history. It's become a burden.
Next was the SERIOUSLY SO ROCKIN' AND AWESOME "Youth Culture Killed My Dog." I was really surprised how that turned out to be one of the very best live songs--on the album I've always thought it was great, but yeh, MUCH better live than I expected.
JF: I like rock music under glass. The way it should be. JL: We know that people would rather hear us ramble endlessly about the songs than actually hear the songs. JF: Welcome to the DVD commentary of VH1's Storytellers...I thought I would have time to tune before this next song, but apparently I didn't.
Before "Number Three":
JF: We had Dan Miller learn the fourth part harmony for this song, so we can provide a more complete live experience.
After that was "Rhythm Section Want Ad," which was one of the songs from this show that I was most looking forward to because it's one of my very favourite songs on the album and one I'd never seen live before. I am happy to report that it was everything I hoped it would be and more (other than, of course, the irony of playing it AS A FULL BAND).
Next was "(She Was A) Hotel Detective." I was wondering what John was going to do for this one since he doesn't have a sax anymore--he did it on bass clarinet. Not nearly as cool (or as sexy) as sax, but definitely better than him being LAME and doing it on keyboard like I was afraid of.
Then came The Avatars.
Blue: This is the classiest place we've ever played in. And we live in a suitcase...We have this new HD system. Green: It cost 79 bucks for this camera. That was just for the camera. Blue: We got it from a guy in a car. There were extras at the store...So we really like They Might Be Giants' first two albums, when they had the good sound. They were strictly indie. But the songs are too short. I don't know if those guys are lazy, or sleepy, or tired... Green: They don't have the patience of a sock puppet. Blue: So we finished this next song with the help of Sir Axl Rose...who is secretly following you on Twitter. This is a world premiere. (cheering) We didn't say it was good.
So then they did the fucked up version of "Toddler Hiway" that they posted the lyrics of online ahead of time. The Avatars are ok enough when they're just doing their own songs, but I do not approve of them doing proper TMBG songs, and I sure as hell do not approve of them fucking with those songs. In addition to the weird other lyrics at the beginning, it was way slowed down. Fortunately, this is one of the lesser songs on the album, or I would've really been pissed.
Before "Chess Piece Face":
JF: You'll want to sit down for this next song because it's so fucking intense...There's a lot of accordion on this first album, John. JL: I think I had better upper-body strength then. JF: You were pretty buff. JL: I feel like I'm in competition with my 20-year-old self but it's, like, a sad old man competition. JF: I feel like I'm in competition with Tina Turner's sax player. You have to choose your rock nemeses carefully.
I very much enjoyed Flans's contribution to this conversation--"buff" is the most accurate way to describe John Linnell at any stage ever, OBVIOUSLY. But as for the rest of it, jesus christ, I was like, "JOHN, JUST STOP. YOU'RE MAKING ME CRY. STOP IT RIGHT NOW." Damn him.
So then they played "Chess Piece Face," then:
JF: That is not a traditional Irish song...I was doing an interview the other day with a woman from Dublin, and she asked me if I was Irish. I said I would like it if people spelled the name "Flansburgh" as "Flansburgh," (pronouncing it like Edinburgh), but no, none of my family is Irish. Then she asked me if I know about The Gathering, and I was like, "Yeh." But in Ireland The Gathering has a different meaning than it does in America. In Ireland it means reuniting Irish families with family back in Ireland...and of course in America it's about reuniting juggalos with meth.
Before "Alienation's for the Rich" Flans said, "This song was written by my dad." Then, after:
JL: I think the original plan was to have all our songs end with maniacal cackling, but we got it down to, like, three. JF: We had a 9-track tape recorder that we were recording our songs on, and that's what the laugh sounded like.
After that was "Everything Right is Wrong Again," which was still HELLA exciting, even though I'd seen it the night before. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH OF PERFECT SONGS.
Then was "Absolutely Bill's Mood," which was as crazy as you'd expect. After, Flans said, "That song is about the engineer of our first album, Bill Krauss...who I believe is in the audience tonight. Give yourself a high five."
JF: We're now up to the last three songs, and then we will be set free. And we will bring you the regular histrionic They Might Be Giants show you've come to know and love. We'd like you to remain seated. JL: Put your hand on your chin, or the side of your head. Pretend you're listening to NPR. JF: If you don't have a pencil, pretend you have a pencil. Also, we want to say something about photography during the show--we don't give a rat's ass. 72 millimeter, man. If you have your IMAX camera. JL: (pointing at face) Try to get these pores. JF: Who's the other guy, with the, what is it--steadycam! (pretends to hold camera in front of himself and moves around)
Then was "Rabid Child" and then "DON'T LET'S START," YES YES YES. While I was most excited ahead of time about "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes" and "Rhythm Section Want Ad" cos they're my favourite songs from the album that I'd never seen, when they were actually playing I got equally excited about "Don't Let's Start" BECAUSE IT IS FUCKING "DON'T LET'S START," and I've only seen it a couple of times before. It is one of those (very rare) songs where I'm like "Ok, I am not going to take any pictures, I am just going to be present here in this moment watching the best band ever play this perfect perfect song."
Then was "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes," so yeh, it was like DOUBLE PUNCH OF AMAZINGNESS. It was a bit slowed down from the album version so that was weird, but still SO GOOD.
So that was the end of the Pink part--DID I MENTION THAT IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER? The only things that would've made it better would be if they'd done at least some more duo than just one song, and if they'd done it in order. I was intensely disappointed that they didn't on both of those. But GOD with how good it already was I DON'T KNOW IF I COULD'VE EVEN HANDLED HAVING IT BE BETTER. Also, the thing Flans said about "favourite to least favourite" has to have been bullshit since they closed with "Don't Let's Start" and then "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes," and if they really believe those are the two worst songs on the album then I WILL NEVER TRUST THEIR OPINIONS ON ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.
I generally remain fairly stationary during shows but during this first half I was just SO MOTHERFUCKING EXCITED that I was rocking out as much as it is possible to rock out when one is sitting down. I mean REALLY, ok, TMBG shows are always JUST A BIT exciting for me, but this first half was just a whole other level of PURE UNADULTERATED ECSTASY. I don't even know how to put it into words.
Anyway, then was the second half. There was no pause in the action or transition at all as they shifted from Pink stuff to other stuff, which was quite startling.
So they started that half with "Damn Good Times"--Flans asked everyone to "flood the aisles" and everyone kept standing up after that.
They followed that with "Birdhouse in Your Soul," THEN "The Guitar," THEN "Clap Your Hands," and I was like "GEEZ guys, way to front-load this half of the show with songs to get people going." Flans was definitely not kidding about it being the "Dancin'" half.
(John gets bass clarinet) JF: As you probably saw on the Tumblr, we are starting our Moon Hooch tribute act. We have...one bass clarinet so far. What's it made of? Resin? Resinite? JL: Plastic. JF: Some call it plastic, but the important thing is that it's solid.
JL: This next song is about our 11th president, which proves the point that if you have nothing nice to say about someone, write a sort of faux-encyclopedia song...instead of expressing your feelings.
While they were playing it, before the guitar solo part on the bridge, John said, "Dan, you can tell them better than I can."
Before "Tesla," Flans said something about it being everywhere, then:
JL: It's in the cloud. If you look in the cloud you'll find it. JF: We were about halfway through the recording of this song when I was informed by my wife that it's pronounced "Tesla" and not "Tezla." I was really disappointed because I was leaning on the Z for the extra rock effect. But I thought of all the scolding we would get...This song starts with just me...all alone, with no help...and then my buddies come in to help me. JL: Don't screw this up, John. (they play just a minute of it, then Flans stops to clear his throat) JF: I'm sorry. JL: This might be a turning point. For people who were on the fence, or sort of liked us... JF: I think we're entering the phase of Loretta Lynn in the 3rd act of Coal Miner's Daughter...I'm about to go on a Tea Party rant here...I just want my country back, man.
So then they did "Tesla," then:
JF: All the show business insiders in one room! JL: And we love the industry, man! JF: If you know anyone in TV or film...jesus christ could we use a break.
Next was "Fingertips." Fun as always, but I was sad that Flans didn't do the "Girl you know it's true" during "I'm having a heart attack," cos that is the best.
At the beginning of the first encore:
JF: We're having the after-party tomorrow in Santa Cruz, where we hear they know how to party. JL: We don't know how to party. But we're going to learn. JF: A week from yesterday we're doing a free show at a casino. JL: It's like we're the shrimp cocktail. JF: It's totally free. You don't have to pay to get in, but you have to pay to get out...Next year is going to be a big internet year for They Might Be Giants. We'll be liveblogging all the things we see on MSNBC. "You gotta check this out, guys."
Then they did the duo/silly version of "Istanbul," and seriously, I'm like "Why didn't you always do it this way cos IT'S ACTUALLY A FUN PART OF THE SHOW NOW."
Beginning of the second encore:
JF: While we were doing "Istanbul" I saw this couple just flying down the aisle, and I thought it was like rain in the 8th inning of a very bad baseball game. But then they started doing this elaborate swing dance, and I was like, "Ok. It's not what I thought it was." JL: Or it could be the expensive baby-sitter thing. JF: I don't think that the swing dancing was about that...You've been a great audience! We'll see you in 2015! JL: But you might not see us. We've got an NSA thing going on. We're checking you out.
Then they closed out with "Dead," which is SERIOUSLY ONE OF THE BEST BEST CLOSERS THEY CAN DO, so that was fantastic. I do not like AT ALL that I was having to say goodbye to them for a year, but at least I got to do it on a very high note.
Requisite final John comments: He was wearing a red-and-white stripey pocket t-shirt, which is the second Ultimate John Linnell Shirt that I can think of off the top of my head (the other being the blue-and-orange stripey turtleneck that he wears in the couple of photos at the beginning of the Apollo 18 promo).
He was talking somewhat more than he usually does which made me very happy because I always want him to do that SO MUCH. But you know, even when he's not saying a lot he makes the things he says count, cos they're pretty much always COMPLETELY AMAZING. (I'm sure the fact that I'm MADLY MADLY IN LOVE WITH HIM has absolultely nothing to do with me having that opinion, of course.)
At some point during the encore he pointed at the audience and said "You guys are the best! Jesus christ!" which was also very exciting because, while it's not even much of a swear, I always think it's SUPERHOT when he swears at all for some reason. (Again, nothing to do with the fact that I think pretty much everything he does is some degree of hot.)