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Fan Recaps and Comments:


Here are some of the things I remember. They had two people doing sign language for the whole concert (Kirk and I forget the other persons name) During Older Mama TMBG called and was going to talk about how TMBG were born, but ended up talking about dogs and her tomato sauce made by dogs which had dog meat in it. Also, How Can I Sing Like A Girl? was just played by the Johns.


They opened with "Number Three," which was another great opener. I do always think it's funny to hear that song in some context where it's not the third song though.

John introduced "James K. Polk" by saying he was "a stealer of land...a taker...a maker."

Flans, explaining the two-set thing: "The first set is songs you like ok, the second set is songs that, after your friend leaves, they don't really need to hear."

Well, the next song was one I definitely like very much more than "ok": "Don't Let's Start"!!! While there are other songs that are more special to me for personal reasons, I think "Don't Let's Start" is their best song, and one I've only heard live a handful of times. The crowd was really into it, and I was just so happy being there with so many people having such a great time together.

In the part of "The Guitar" where the different members of the band normally do solos, they played some disco stuff for a few minutes instead--that was unexpected. I'm not into disco myself, but it was actually pretty cool. Flans: "It's like a wedding, but you don't have to marry anyone."

When they were getting ready to play "Science is Real," Flans was getting a piece of paper on a clipboard ready, and John asked him if it was his research notes. Flans replied that in the song there are "three words that I don't want to fuck up."

Then John mentioned that it's 100 degrees in New York right now. "That's too many degrees." Then Flans told this funny story about calling the front desk at the hotel and asking if there was somewhere he could call to get food delivery, "and she told me, 'This is San Francisco, you'll have to get on your computer to do that,' in the same voice you talk to your grandparents that's pitying with just a 20% dash of condescension." John: "How do I get my VHS to stop blinking 12:00?" Then Flans said he knows San Francisco invented computers--"Snap! This coffee is makin' me bitchy!" Then he said that the next song doesn't have any countoff, "I just surprise the band by starting."

After the song was over Flans looked at his "research notes" and said, "'Geology, astrophysics, and biology.' I'd give that performance a C-."

I was excited when they started playing "Older" cos I figured there would be a Mama TMBG call and I think that bit is really funny.

She did indeed call, and after saying that one of her many regrets was "not giving the five of you five different names," John prompted her to "tell the story of our birth." So she started talking about how she was in a movie theatre next to a dog when her water broke, and then there was a tangent about how at the t-shirt stand you could buy her meat sauce ("We have an all-dog staff, and it's also made of dog meat...oh, I see this audience is sensitive"), then it was back to the birth story. "I was screaming, and the police came, and he went up to the dog, ignoring me. And he asked the dog what he was doing there, and the dog said he'd enjoyed the book and wanted to see the film.

They played the rock version of "Man, It's So Loud in Here," and that was a really emotional experience for me, because the album version of that song more than any other song is associated with my very early days of fandom, so it made me very nostalgic.

After that something really annoying happened--some idiotic fangirl threw her bra at John. John had no observable reaction but I'm sure he was annoyed, and I was annoyed too, cos I knew everyone would think it was me just cos I happened to be at the show, like I'm the only girl who's attracted to him. But why the hell would I want to annoy someone I care about so much? Rar. Anyway, Danny picked it up and put it on the neck of his guitar, which was pretty funny. Flans: "It's your wife's size and everything."

Flans introduced "I Can Help the Next in Line" with "This is from three albums ago--we've released three albums in the past 15 months! That's fucked up! We don't know how that happened." Then he said that he had a "complicated sound" for his guitar on the next song and played for a minute and said, "That already sounds like the intro to a very long song."

I really can't believe they made that one of only two of John's Glean songs that they played over the two shows. It was weird enough to play it instead of something as brilliant as "Erase" or "Unpronounceable" just one night, but twice? I was pretty upset about that, since he seriously has some amazing songs on that album, and this is not one of them. But at least at this show they played "Answer" too.

John was getting out his bass clarinet for "Cloisonne," and Flans asked him if it was a bass clarinet or a contra-bass, which was weird because every show I've been to where John uses it Flans has talked about how they're using a bass clarinet. Then he said that it's ok that it's not contra-bass because bass is already "an adult portion of clarinet."

After the song was over Flans said that the bass clarinet would not be returning and John said, "it's the luckiest bass clarinet in show biz," and Flans said it was going "straight back to rehab."

John was asking Flans how he was enjoying the show and the crowd started cheering, and John clarified that he was asking Flans, not the audience. Flans said he liked hearing people applaud because "it's my oxygen. We just did a show in Denver which was short on both applause and oxygen." Then they started talking about how they're not playing shows for awhile after this. Flans: "Why aren't we playing shows? Because of the arguments." John: "Because of the oxygen." I didn't like hearing them talk about that because I've been trying so hard not to think about it, and I hope they haven't really been having a lot of arguments.

After "Answer" (which I was really happy to see) they played "The Statue Got Me High" again, YAY. It was such a big deal for me to see it the night before, so I was really excited to see it again. But I know nothing's ever going to be as perfect as that first time again.

After that they played "The Famous Polka." I always love seeing that live cos I think it's the song of theirs that most lets John show off his accordion chops, so it makes me seriously swoon. Flans actually sang the lyrics this time.

Flans said the last two songs were going to be a "dancing contest" between the two levels of the floor, and that they were designed to be very danceable even for people who "did better on the SATs than I did."

The two songs were "Authenticity Trip," which is a perfect live song, and "Istanbul," which I am so sick of but I guess they feel obligated since it's so popular with the casual fans (though they actually didn't play it the night before, which was exciting).

They opened the second set with "She's an Angel," which is such a beautiful song and such a special experience live. John did the first verse a capella and I was practically getting goosebumps.

Then Flans said by the time they do another show there will be "some crazy new government," and that he wanted to remind people that "it's not too late to vote in the upcoming election. We're not telling you who to vote for, but if you look into my eyes..." Then John said, "As Elizabeth Warren put it so eloquently, 'Don't fuck this up.'"

After that they played "Women and Men" and then "Your Racist Friend," and by this point I was starting to feel pretty burned out on Flood songs. Some of the songs they were playing were amongst their best ones (I'll never complain about seeing "Letterbox," which they played next), but for god's sake, over the two shows they played a full half of Flood, while they were seriously neglecting a lot of their other albums. I know it's the one album all their casual fans have, but sometimes I feel like they forget that they have fans who are more than casual too.

After that they played "Let Me Tell You About My Operation." I think that's the best song Flans has written in years, and it's amazing live. I was really excited to get a chance to see it again.

Before the Fillmore show I was talking to Matt and I said I wondered if they were going to play the Venue Song, but too bad it's one of the weakest ones. They didn't play it, so I wasn't expecting any Venue Songs at all. So I was plenty surprised when here in Berkley they played "Los Angeles," totally randomly. I hadn't seen any Venue Songs before and that's one of the best ones, so I was really happy. It's superfun live too.

Flans said the song was "too short," and John said, "Or the other songs are too tall." So that's two nights in a row of Flans saying John's songs are too short--shut up, Flans! It doesn't even make sense anyway, cos he writes short songs too.

Next they played "We Live in a Dump," which Flans introduced by saying it was "about apartment living" and "based on true events in our true lives." After the song was over Flans was saying "dump" a few times making it sound like his voice was echoing, and he said it was "like Star Wars."

There were a couple of sign language interpreters on the side of the stage, and John said he was so curious to know what the signs for all their songs were and it was "requiring all his concentration" not to look over at the interpreters when they were playing. Flans pointed out that the show required two interpreters, when "there are presidential addresses with only one." Later he found out the names of the interpreters and everyone in the crowd applauded them.

I don't really like kids' songs during adult shows for the most part, but "Robot Parade" is one of the exceptions I'll make, cos the second half gets SO ROCKIN' and I am all about the rockin'. John was hopping for a bit, which is always cute as fuck.

After that they played "Where Your Eyes Don't Go," which was definitely one of the highlights of the show for me, because it's one of my favourite songs of theirs.

Then they were introducing "Careful What You Pack." Flans said they'd written some songs for a film, and some of the songs hadn't made it in cos they were too good, and they were "outshining" the movie ("That Kubrick is a perfectionist!"). Then he said that because the song they were about to play was too good we might have to turn away because it might cause short-term blindness. He said it was like going to the optometrist and having drops put in your eyes before a test, but then corrected himself to say really it was like staring at an eclipse.

Amusing intro aside, I don't really like "Careful What You Pack" live too much. It's a perfectly good song, but I just think it's too quiet and low-energy to work live very well.

A couple of songs later they played "Ana Ng," which is always an emotional experience for me, but they cheered things up again with "Can't Keep Johnny Down" afterwards, which is so fun and upbeat.

First encore was "My Evil Twin" (cool to see that one again) and "Birdhouse in Your Soul," which Flans dedicated to the very back row.

At the beginning of the second encore Flans said 2016 has been a really hard year with a lot of hateful, intolerant talk, and that the next song addresses that in a way and is about "how to be a different sort of person in a bad world." The song was "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?", which I've never really thought of as being all that serious, so it was interesting to hear him introduce it that way. It was the duo arrangement with just accordion and Flans singing, which I love, so it was great to see that again. I wish they played songs duo more often--it's always so amazing.

I was afraid they were gonna close with "The End of the Tour," but instead it was "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes," which is a really fucking awesome song and has the added bonus of not making me cry.

It was a really great show, albeit not as exciting as the night before because there wasn't a special twist like the full performance of Apollo 18. The ending was definitely bittersweet, knowing I won't get another chance to see them for so long, but one of the things I really noticed about both these shows was how much fun the band was clearly having. So that was really reassuring to me, that this break from shows really is just that, a break, and that they don't actually want to stop for good. Hurry back, boys! We miss you already! --Self Called Nowhere (talk) 16:57, 2 August 2016 (EDT)