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This was one weird f*ckin' show...not just by Giants standards, but by all standards. Imagine going to see a concert by a major recording artist and the experience turning into something akin to watching your brother's band rehearse in the garage. That is the only way I can describe this show.

I arrived with my friend Sasha (The world's first Belarussian TMBG concert attendee? Who knows?) at around 7:30 pm. Another friend, Dale, had arrived an hour or so earlier, before the doors opened (he said he was second in line), and managed to get in and save us fantastic seats. This was a great bonus, but it probably wasn't necessary. This place was tiny, and all the seating was raked quite steep. I don't think there was a "bad" seat in the house. The place really had the feel (in size and layout) of a movie theatre.

Anyway, our seats were on the aisle in the center section, toward stage right, four or five rows back. There was an area in front of the stage for people to stand, but this wasn't happening just yet. There was no barrier, and the stage platform itself was (maybe) three feet high. The only thing even resembling security were the old codger ticket-takers who normally work the doors at Kentucky Center for the Arts events. However, I had the feeling security wouldn't be needed. The crowd was so quiet and well-behaved it was almost frightening. This was definitely not a moshing, crowd-surfing, drunken antics fact, I was begining to feel like I'd accidentally walked into some sort of assembly for the Children of God, rather than a rock 'n roll show. As I'd expected, the crowd was young-ish...average age 18 or so.

Michael Shelly opened (Flans came out and introduced him), but didn't inspire much enthusiasm from anyone. I didn't think he was bad, exactly, but he didn't inspire much enthusiasm from me, either. I enjoyed "Surfer Joan" and wished more of his songs had been that energetic. During his set, the night's strangeness began to sink in. The way this place was designed, if someone in the crowd made a comment or responded to anything Shelly said, it was audible through the entire house. So, it was a rather "intimate" setting. It's not often a performer onstage can maintain an actual dialog with someone 30 rows back, but it was quite possible this time. Stage rap wasn't gonna work, it wasn't a crowd-and-spectator type thing. I've been to many shows at which a person in the front would shout something to the band and the band would respond...80% of the crowd wouldn't know what was said or why. In this place everybody heard everything and responded accordingly. It was quite bizarre.

Between shows, we sat and sipped our beers. The stage lights flashed brightly in our faces. I suppose at most shows, these lights are above the heads of the crowd and just look pretty. But, those of us in the first few rows at this show were treated to a sample of what it's like to be *on* the stage. The lights were right in our faces and eyes and got to be uncomfortably hot. Yow. Pre-show torture for fun and profit.

When They came onstage, the floor filled up quickly with bouncing bodies. I saw another review on the mailing list saying the stage was "rushed", but it was the most orderly and laid-back rush I've ever seen. My friends and I stayed in our seats as it gave us a perfect vantage point. The row we were in was just over the heads of those standing down front. They started with "She's an Angel" then went right into "Doctor Worm", during which Linnell did a verse of "Total Eclipse (of the Heart)". Ha! After this, Linnell addressed a young man down front who was holding up a sign he'd made. "It's really nice that you made that, but could you please not wave it around. It's very distracting." This inspired a story from him about trying to play a place with a mirrored back wall ("We kept looking at our hair.") and a story from Flans about people at another show who'd brought pictures of Their faces on sticks and waved them about. He compared it to the worst acid trip you could have.

After this, I lost track of the song list order, but I remember the following were played (not including encores...I'll get to those)..."Don't Let's Start", "Mammal", "James K. Polk", "Ana Ng", "No One Knows My Plan", "Spy", "Why Does the Sun Shine", "She Thinks She's Edith Head", "It's So Loud in Here", "The Guitar", "She's Actual Size", "Birdhouse in Your Soul", "Your Racist Friend", "Shoehorn With Teeth", "Whistling in the Dark", "Someone Stole My Eye" (is this the name?) and "Particle Man". I think that's all of 'em. They also did an "improv" of a New Orleans style blues thing. At first, I thought it was an actual spontaneous thing...It seemed like it from the general confusion onstage. But, then Flans started singin "Who fucked up the show", and I realised it wasn't.

The band seemed in a weird place, psychologically. Maybe because they were in a weird place, physically. They didn't seem totally freaked by the nature of the venue and crowd...but a bit nervous, as if they expected something odd to happen. It did.

During "Particle Man", a young girl climbed on the stage and hugged Linnell. It was creepy because everything went dead quiet while Linnell said something like, "uh...oh...wait a minute. you can't be up here." She was led away and there were a few moments of uncomfortable silence as Linnell looked completely shaken, talked about how distracting that was, and Flans made some loud comments about the lack of security. Although it was wrong of her to do it, I have to say this crowd was very well-behaved by anyone's standards, and the girl was certainly not a serious threat to safety...just to Linnell's extreme sense of personal space. It was perhaps blown out of proportion, but only for a minute. She went back to the floor, they regained their composure (ditching the rest of Particle Man), and things went on from there. I was worried it was going to blow their attitude for the rest of the show, but things eventually seemed to gear up again. At one point shortly after the incident, Linnell mentioned that this was a really weird show...and pointed out a guy down front as an example. "Where did you get that food? Are they serving food here?", Guy: "No. I brought it." Linnell: "You brought food to our show? That's never happened before!"

The improv during "Spy" was kinda sad...not as good as the others I've seen. At one point, someone from the back yelled "Just play a song!" which seemed to make them lose it. There was a conga line for "NOKMP" on the floor, but those of us in our seats refrained from trying it. I don't know anyone else's reasons, but mine was the steepness of the grade in the seating...Had one person tripped and started a domino effect, there would have been some people seriously hurt. My favorite moment had to be, though, during "WDTSS?" Linnell sang and Flans did the spoken bits...Now, a quick aside: In downtown Louisville is a big old hotel called the Galt House. It's right on the Ohio River and is decorated much like an 18th century French whorehouse. Everything is crushed velvet, brocade, and tapestry and *none* of it matches. It is the epitome of kitsch, best because it was never intended to be. So...back to the show: Apparently the Johns were staying at, or familiar with, this hotel because, during "WDTSS?", Flans shouted , "What most people don't know is that scientists have discovered the sun is actually a giant replica of the Galt House! It's an exact copy!'s...on...FIRE!!"

There were a lot of other fun moments, exchanges with the audience, etc., but this review is getting let's get on with it. The show ended and, before leaving the stage, Flans did something wierd, he snatched up his song list, then went around the stage and took all the song lists. I'd never seen that before. My friend Dale turned and asked me if the band had a paper shortage and needed the lists for the next show...I dunno...He seemed to be crumpling them all up.

They came back out, of course. The first encore included "Lie Still, Little Bottle" (with stick), "They Got Lost", "The Famous Polka", and "Twisting"...I think in that order. The final encore consisted of "Exquisite Dead Guy" (with puppet heads) and "Istanbul". If anyone else was there and has corrections or additions to this, please go for it...I was enjoying the show, not making notes.

Flans and Linnell both commented numerous times on what a great place this was and how they really wanted to come back, but the fear in their eyes belied the truth...No, I'm not sure if they were sincere or not...maybe. They really seemed to be having difficulty deciding whether the intimate nature of the show was great or threatening. Only time will tell, if they return to us again.

- CN