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- The Extended Spider Intro
- Space Suit
- I'm Having A Heart Attack
- The Statue Got Me High
- Number Three
- Twisting (Extended Ending)
- Particle Man
- She's Actual Size
- The Guitar
- Ana Ng
- Your Racist Friend
- Piece Of Dirt
- Lucky Ball & Chain
- Dinner Bell
- I Palindrome I
- Stump The Band
- See The Constellation
- Someone Keeps Moving My Chair
- She's An Angel
- Narrow Your Eyes
- 32 Footsteps
- Purple Toupee
- The Famous Polka (aborted, stage collapses)
- Chess Piece Face
- Maybe I Know
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (Extended)
- Hide Away Folk Family (Car Alarm)
- Birdhouse In Your Soul
They Might Be Giants
Modjeska Theatre in Milwaukee, WI
October 5, 1992 at 7:30 PM
Fan Recaps and Comments:
review by Joel Kuester
It has been almost 10 years to the day that I write this, but the events of that
night are emblazoned in my mind's eye to this day.
It was not only my first They Might Be Giant's live concert, but the first of hundreds of concerts that I have been to since that day. If I was a concert virgin, then my first experience was like being tossed into a leather club and stripped naked and beaten. Standing in line before the show with my friends was uneventful, but expectation was thick in the air. This crowd was all hardcore fans, and actually had a different 'feel' than all the TMBG shows I have been to after. Most of the people were older college art-types, whereas the shows lately seem to draw a younger, more mainstream audience. Once we were let in, I was horrified to discover that the Modjeska Theatre was filled with seats. We were looking forward to dancing, so we grumpily staked out our seats, about 10 rows from the stage, which was built out with an adhoc frame over the shallow orchestra pit.
I remember seeing a guy with a bright red smoking jacket and fez sitting in the third row, and thinking how cool it would be to own an actual fez. Yeah, I know... I was only 16, gimme a break here.
I actually don't remember the opening act, except that I think it was a guy with an acoustic guitar. We did a lot of talking over him, but what I heard didn't impress me much at the time.
This was great show, and the Johns were in top form! The sound system was actually pretty decent from my perspective, and even with the seats the crowd was moving around a bit, and I only saw a few stragglers who remained in their seats.
This next part has been debated a bit. Right before The Famous Polka, Flans made a comment that 'people should get up here and dance'. I don't have an exact quote obviously, but it must have seemed clear to pretty much everyone, because an immediate queue started in the aisles to scramble up on stage.
By the time my friends and I got to the front of the stage, there was a heaping crowd of bouncing fools already up there... and the music was going strong. My friend Jeremy was climbing up when there was a sudden commotion.
The adhoc stage collapsed forward, catching Jeremy between the front row of seats and itself, and pushing a few dozen people on the main floor backward. On the main stage, the band faltered to a stop as each one looked down on a mass of writhing bodies. The theatre darkened and then came up to full light within a minute. I heard Jeremy yell in pain, and a few of us slid his trapped leg out from under the stage.
The next few minutes were a blur, as people rushed forward and back, trying to get everything under control. A few were hurt pretty bad and I do remember seeing one bleeding and being walked out by a bouncer. The mood was pretty dismal, and we all agreed the show was over for sure at this point.
All heads turned forward to what was left of the stage as Flans came out from backstage somewhere. I think They were talking to the show promoters to get a handle on the situation. Flans said something along the lines of 'we didn't mean for anyone to come up on stage!' and he let everyone know that the show was continuing in a few minutes. The rest of the band eventually came out and after they started to play for a little while, the lights dimmed back down.
Everything was pretty low key for a while, but by the end of the night everyone's energy level returned.
All in all, a night not to be forgotten ever. We were all greeted by a huge mess in the streets, akin to a small riot of confusion after the show. Apparently, during the show, the local media carried a few reports of the stage collapse on their nightly news, which caused many parents to freak out and come down to the Modjeska Theatre. When they got there, they saw a few ambulances that were taking care of mostly minor scrapes (a few people did have to go to the hospital, including Jeremy. He said the Modjeska gave him a ton of free tickets for the summer and he met the Johns, so he was happy about it).
A few days later, I heard a local newstalk commentator lament about misbegotten youth that rioted and destroyed the Modjeska stage during a "punk polka" band. He didn't even know the name or the situation, and his diatribe was hilarious... I wish I had it taped to this day, I think They would enjoy hearing it.
Well, that's my little story, hope it entertained you well enough. cheers!
review from bootleg by Tenniru I was but an infant when this show occured, but nevertheless I have the blind man's experience of being here; that's right, I have a perfect-quality bootleg of the event as it happened. The show is very well-performed. Mysteriously, only 25-second version of I'm Having A Heart Attack is present here; it seems Fingertips usually wasn't done at all on this tour. The performance is great and the quality was wonderful thanks to the small venue, presence of bodies, and the audience doesn't mar anything (I guess the chairs were disenheartening.) Let's get to the famous bit.
Flansburgh: "We would like to ask you for this one brief moment to disregard the fire laws... feel free to just come on up and help us out with The Famous Polka..." The Famous Polka begins. It only lasts a bit under a minute: it reaches the guitar solo and suddenly ends clear before the lyrics begin.
Flansburgh: "I was just talking about the aisles, folks. I wasn't trying to invite everybody to stage-dive. Please, grab your friends if you see anybody that's lying down, please pick 'em on up. Sorry about that folks. Is everybody alright? Woah." The actual crash wasn't too loud (not that audible at all, actually), and initially the crowd is laughing; then the band disappears and the hall is filled with yelling, hooting, some shouts of pain, more laughing, people trying to find eachother, the like.
Flansburgh: "Hey, everybody. Sorry, I didn't mean to... I was just talking about the aisles, I... wasn't trying to be like a (some word) or something. So, like, uh... everybody just calm down and sit down for one brief second while these guys make sure everybody's okay, and there's nobody hurt, we'd really appreciate it. We're going to turn on the house lights for the next couple minutes to make sure that everybody's okay." The crowd is now just confused but nevertheless in good spirits. The taper temporarily stops his rig. When it's back, the crowd is less chaotic and there's just waiting around. Suddenly the band is back.
Linnell: "Hey. Pardon our appearence. It's great to be here."
Flansburgh: "Ladies and gentlemen, um, I know there are a couple of people outside who are worried about their, uh... if you got hurt, or anything. If you have, uh, a swelled kneecap or something there's ice downstairs, so, uh, if you did get hurt don't be shy about getting attention... to those wounds. So, um, here comes a song off our very first LP, and it's called Chess Piece Face." And so the band begins anew and finishes the show, much to the glee of the audience.
Tickets were $16.50 in advance, $19.50 at the door.
From the Milwaukee Journal - October 06, 1992:
- ROCK POLKA BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE
- Platform collapses after teens at concert rush the stage
- The members of the New York band They Might Be Giants learned an important lesson in concert protocol Monday night: yelling "Polka!" in Milwaukee is like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater.
- About 20 young concert-goers were slightly injured Monday night at the Modjeska Theater when a platform over the orchestra pit collapsed under the weight of dancers who answered a band member's call from the stage to "C'mon up and help polka."
- Three people - two young women and a young man - were treated for minor injuries at St. Luke's Medical Center, a hospital spokesman said early Tuesday. The other injured dancers, most of whom were teenagers, refused treatment, according to a spokesman from Bell Ambulance.
- There undoubtedly were a few elevated blood pressure readings among the parents who came to pick up their children and found three ambulances parked in front of the theater at 1134 W. Mitchell St.
- Accident or Adventure?
- Shortly after the incident, there were signs that the young Giants fans probably regarded the fall less as an accident than as an adventure. And they had battle scars to prove to their friends that they were there.
- In the lobby, after the platform collapsed, bags of ice intended for soda were held on banged-up shins and scraped knees.
- Allison Kay, 15, who had caused quite a stir when she left the theater crying and holding her stomach, sat red-eyed on the lobby floor chewing ice cubes from a paper cup and gingerly peeking at her blotchy, scraped abdomen. Two of her friends from West Bend East High School anxiously hovered nearby.
- The worst thing was the shock of having the floor drop from under her, Allison said. A few minutes later, she seemed less concerned about what had happened than what she was missing.
- "Darn, I wanted to see the rest of the show," she said as inside, the band resumed playing. Suddenly, she jumped up as though looking for something. Her friends leaned forward, concerned.
- "Hey, did you remember to grab my T-shirt?" Allison said.
- She was treated later at St. Luke's.
- MOST OF CROWD STOOD
- Monday's concert didn't start as the kind of show that would incite a polka riot. Although the mostly high school and college-age crowd of about 900 stood throughout the show, security guards had little trouble keeping the aisles clear.
- Giants fans were content to happily bop on their seats. They jumped straight up and down as accordionist John Linnell, 33, and guitarist John Flansburgh, 32, punched out droll, melodic pop tunes such as "Particle Man" and "The Guitar" - the latter an exuberant bit of nonsense built around the 60's hit, "The Lion sleeps Tonight."
- The brooklyn-based Giants, who recently expanded from a duo to a quintet, were about an hour into the show and had just finished an older song called "Purple Toupee" when the bespectacled, studious-looking Flansburgh invited the audience to "C'mon up and help polka."
- "He made the statement that, 'For this song we want you to disregard the fire codes and come down and dance in the aisles. We're going to do a polka number,'" said Bob Wren, 33.
- The crowd took Flansburgh at his word. Between 60 to 80 young people surged past surprised security guards and onto the front part of the stage.
- The band "...asked people to join in the dancing - in the aisles," said Alex Inman, 19. "The stage just got swamped."
- After holding up under a few minutes of frantic polka-ing, the platform suddenly gave way. The dancers on the stage toppled several feet into the Modjeska's shallow pit, while those in the front row dodged falling bodies and splintering wood.
- The house lights came up as the band urged people to quietly take their seats - which they did. Those with injuries were instructed to go to the lobby.
- "I meant in the aisles, guys," a visibly shaken Flansburgh said as he peered into the wreckage. "I wasn't trying to be Axl Rose."
- Once it was determined that no one was seriously hurt, the band played for another 20 minutes at the crowds urging.
- Backstage after the show, an anxious-looking Flansburgh waved off the offer of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken while trying to find someone to drive him to St. Luke's.
- "I feel really bad about it," the guitarist said as he clutched a fistful of T-shirts to give to the hurt fans. "It was the sweetest, most well-behaved crowd up to that point.... It's amazing, but even when they were up on stage, they never violated our personal space. Sometimes we have people pulling us into the crowd. I feel pretty foolish right now."
- The Modjeska Theater, built in 1924, has been renovated over the past year. Efforts to bill the 2,000 seat venue as a concert hall have brought more performers to the South Side theater, including former Talking Heads singer David Byrne and the alternative rock band Faith No More.
- Pete Jest, a representative of Cellar Door, the concert promoter, said his agency, had discussed removing the platform to make room for dancing near the front of the stage.
- Journal reporter Mark Edmund contributed to this report.