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Review by richegreen (originally posted to
just got back from my 2nd They Might Be Giants concert! The show was at Meehan Auditorium at Brown University in Providence, RI. TMBG was co-headlining with The Violent Femmes and were being opened by Mike Doughty. Here's what happened:

I attended this concert with my friends Brad and Jeff. This would be Brad's 2nd TMBG show as well, and 8 for Jeff. Although the original plan was to get there early so I could see my good friend from high school who attended Brown University, there were some time conflicts (including being stood up by the yearbook photo person at the ACM meeting), we got a really late start and got there about a half hour before the show began, so we decided to instead go straight in to get good spots. After being frisked (what kind of shows does this place usally have???) we went in and got spots in the 2nd row, right in front of Linnell's keyboard. We held the spots and waited for a while and chatted with some other TMBG fans around us. It was also really interesting to see so many other WPI students there. Most of the NON WPi students looked like real freak tho....even by our standards. The auditorium was a hockey arena, and the acoustics....sucked in there.

Around 8PM, the opening act, Mike Doughty came on stage. This was the same guy who opened my first TMBG show last August. My memory of his perfomance was a bit shaky, but I remember this 10 second, one chord song he sang called Firetruck and immediately started yelling for it. During the silence after the first song I yelled it again and he immediately went into Firetruck!!!!! Wow, my work was done for the night. He then started performing another song and 5 seconds into it, realized that trying to play solo acoustic guitar was not going to work, and just started messing around to see what kind of cool echoy sounds he could make in there. Then he said "ok, so what CAN I play? and I yelled out Firetruck again and he played it!!!!!!!!! And then he tried another song that didn't work, and then one that did. And then ......... FIRETRUCK #3!!!! Blah blah some more songs (sorry I don't know his music that well, but he did a really good job) and then Firetruck one more time. I found it interesting that so many people DID know his music and were singing along. Uhm anyway, a couple more songs, and a bit more of him making fun of the "big empty hockey arena with shitty acoustics" and a 5th round of Firetruck and then he was off.

After Doughty finished, a bunch more people came into the arena, and some of them were really determined to reach the front row, or at least take my 2nd row spot. But Brad and I held our ground, and Jeff tried his best to. After a long fun show of watching the crew set up the stage, the lights dimmed and then the "Space Krickets" intro started, which was basically a very bassy soundeffect with cricket sounds in the background. The one unfortunate thing about being in the 2nd row towards the right is that the speakers were extremely loud....I quickly went deaf that night. The band - John Flansburgh, John Linnell, Dan Miller, Dan Weinkalf and Dan Hickey (no brass section tonight) went onto the stage during this intro "song".

Once the Space Krickets faded back out the lights went on and the first thing we heard was "LADIES AND, LADIES AND GENTLEMAN!!!" and Spider was the first song. I still think it sounds pretty lame live....pretty much the same as on the STD album.

Once Spider finished up, the drum and bass part of The Guitar started, and went on for about a minute, while Flansburgh donned the white guitar. He started playing it, but it wasn't working, so he unplugged the wire, stuck the end of it in his pocket and held the guitar over his head by the neck and started singing the first verse. Honestly, I gotta say.......Flansburgh looked like crap that night. He was sweating like crazy, looks like he hadn't shaved in 3 days, and his shirt was half-tucked in, and he looked pretty stressed out by his guitar not working. I heard he'd been sick, so that might have had something to do with it. He sounded GREAT tho....he just didn't LOOk great. So then he went and got the red guitar and plugged it in and that one didn't work either........and finally the brown one did, after he had to walk off stage a couple of times. So finally they could start the "in the spaceship" part and continued thru, and it wasn't as long as usual although there was a bass solo in it.

When The Guitar ended, JF introduced the show and then John Linnell introduced the next song as "a song to help you study for your history exam....a song about the 11th president.....James Knox Polk" and James K Polk was performed, complete with the confetti cannon. Dan Miller played the singing saw solo.

The next song was introduced as "a song that will be on our new album, which will be coming out this fall, which will be called Mink Car. The song is Cyclops Rock". It was so kewl to see this performed live, after hearing and seeing it on so many bootlegs and webcasts. JF messed up of the lines, by singing "I'm sick, like Chucky was sick" instead of "like Nixon was sick", and then sang "like Chucky won't die" as usual. I noticed that the confetti was still falling during this song, which JF commented on after the song, and then JL said something about how "this is still left over from the Bush electional party.......our confetti isn't gonna fall for another 3 months" and then went straight into Ana, starting on the first word instead of the 4 bar instrumental intro. JF sang the "I don't want the world" line.

When Ana ended, they went straight into Twisting, which had a really cool, extra-long guitar jam in the middle.

Next was Older, which JL performed on the keyboard. JF messed up the guitar solo at the beginning of it, and then started playing it REALLY REALLY slow. During the second half of the song, JL made this claw gesture with his right hand and held it pretty much the length of the song. They didn't do that cool really long pause like they did on Conan. At the end of Older, they went straight into You Racist Friend, which pretty typical, but no complaints.

JL introduced the next song as "a really new song, in A minor", which turned out to be I've Got A Fang. Now, I've heard this song before, but it wasn't until tonight when I realized how kewl.....and FUNNY (...and her head exploded) it was. JL did that claw gesture during it again, and gave me some really strange looks when he saw me trying to sing along on it.

After Fang, JF looked at the setlist at his foot and just started laughing, and then explained himself by saying "'s not very typical for us to do three new songs in a row at a college show, but I think you have enough interlect to keep up with our unfamiliar stuff. This next new song, which will be featured on our next album, features the acoustic guitar played by Dan Miller", and Dan donned the acoustic, and JL put on his red accordion for the first time this night. "This song is called Drink." It's another song I've heard before, but it didn't impress me very much. A large part of the audience swayed their hands in a "drink, drink" motion throughout it.

After Drink, JF started complaining about his guitar not working, and left the stage. In the meantime, JL stood there and talked about how the band is a HOCKEY band, and they love HOCKEY and they play HOCKEY songs and the next song is a HOCKEY song and he wants to see a HOCKEY game and finally JF got back and they started playing......ugh.....Particle Man, so of course the audience, for the first time that night, finally started going nuts. Although I am so sick of this song, I gotta admit -- the acoustic guitar workings of Dan Miller was really kewl on it!!!

After Particle, they went right into Spy, which was the typical live version, up until the part where everyone chants "SPY SPY SPY etc" in which point everyone stopped playing and JF sung, acoustically - Kumbya My Lord, while holding his left fist in the air. Right before the verse of Kumbya was supossed to end, he lowered his fist and the band started playing the Spy line again, and then he quickly raised it and finished the verse, and then began the next verse of "someone's crying my Lord", but kept alternating between fist up (meaning silence), and fist down (meaning jamming), and finally segued into the "conduct the band by pointing to band members" part. For JL, he was playing these really freaky scifi-type instruments on his keyboard. After a couple of minutes, they finished up, including the evil-voicing of "Spy!" at the end.

When it ended, everyone except for John and John walked off stage, and JL started up the hariscord jam that he usually plays before Shoehorn, while JF introduced the crew member who was bringing out the glokenspiel, and they did the typical routine of it. JL played the whole instrumental part, including the bass line, on his keyboard and JF sang, and Dan Hickey hit his three A's on the glockenspiel, and then the same harpsicord jam started up again while they cleared the stage.

Dan Hickey returned to his drums, and the bass played Dan Weinkalf came back, but Dan Miller the guitarist didn't. JF then took his mic and started on She's Actual Size, but started walking around at the back of the stage, walking left and right behind the drums and then finally snuck up right behind Dan Hickey and stood there and sang out the rest of the song. And then he pointed to Dan and said "Dan Hickey on the drums" and let him do the solo, and then said "Dan Hickey on the.....congas" and then he played a conga solo, and then "Dan Hickey on the bongos!" and a bongo solo and then "Dan Hickey ....... doing some pimpin 70's style hi-hat" and ........ he played a pimpin 70's style hi-hat solo (you have to hear it for yourself to understand!)........and finally "hey Dan, how about a tom, snare and bass drum rhythmn?" and then Dan answered his request, and then they finally finished up the song. Interesting to say the least!

Next, JL started talking. He talked about how not everyone comes to shows to see one band, or to see a band perform only one band's songs, and that TMBG doesn't just perform their own songs; that they do covers. And this was a cover of the song Maybe I Know. During this introduction the Dans snuck off stage so it was just John, John and the keyboard. I always thought the song was boring, but it seemed to get a nice audience reaction.

After the song, the Dans came back and they performed "A song about our hometown" -- New York City, which was fun as always :)

they went from NYC straight into "Why Does the Sun Shine", which was probably the high point of the show for me, because I haven't seen this song live before and I really wanted to. In the song, I learned that "everything on the sun is a gas: jewelry machines, that pottery-making stuff, they are all gasses!", and that the Sun's gasses were "estrogen, estrogen, more estrogen, even more estrogen!"

After Sun, they went straight into Birdhouse. Brad & I were doing the weird jumping gestures from the music video, which got us a smile and some really weird looks from JL. It was as fun as usual, but no weird changes.

After Birhouse, the next song was introduced simply as "this is a song we do called Boss of Me". In the second musical mistake I noticed, during the second refrain, half of the band wanted to do the full version and the other half wanted to do the short version, which led to 4 seconds of chaos. It was really fun seeing this again now that I actually know all the words!

They finished the song and then said "thanks for coming, you've been a great audience. This is our last song, about a Doctor...named Dr Worm". Woo! One of my favs! For this song, JL played accordion (only his third accordion song tonight!!) and DAN MILLER played keyboards (set to brass sounds) and also sang background vocals. During the vocal solo, JL started singing in reverse, and then segued into "I enjoy being a girl", and then the song ended as usual, and then they walked off. but.......well it was too soon for it to end. there was a big chant of "John John, Dan Dan Dan!" starting, and within 2 minutes they were back on stage.

JL introduced the next song as "a song we recorded about 10 years ago and learned how to play about a couple months ago" WOOOOOO!!! Fingertips!!! Yet another high point of the show. I think I was the only person actually singing along to the whole thing, which again got me some really strange looks from John Linnell....who was only about 10 feet from me, and was forced to look straight at me when playing.

After that, JF said "you've been a super audience. We have one song left, featuring again, the acoustic workings of Dan Miller" and the long solo acoustic to Istanbul began, and then the actual song, with a lot of vocal messing by John and John, and then before I knew it, the show was over. JF said "thanks for coming, enjoy the Violent Femmes.....I want to thank every one of you individually; meet me by the tshirt stand" and then they all walked off and the stage lights went up. I wasn't quite sure at first that he said what I wrote that he said, but I found out later that I heard correctly.

After the show ended, I was able to squeeze into a front row spot (which led to even more back humping by girls trying to squeeze themselves in). A guy next to me was given one of the setlists, and a girl on the other side of me was given one of the broken drumsticks from the show. After a couple of minutes of begging and pleading, one of the crew members gave ME a setlist too!!! WOO!! It was the one that was left on stage for about 10 minutes and was being constantly stepped on and run over by equipment, but at least I got it :). Right after that Brad was given a CLEAN and unwrinkled setlist as well. Robot and Dig were listed as the second encore, which was not played.

well...I've heard Robot Parade before, so I didn't miss it, but it would have been really kewl to hear Dig My Grave. Anyway, since Brad was suffering from severe hearing loss, and I frankly was sick of getting dry humped by all these girls trying to take my spot, we decided to get out of there, and see if JF was serious when he said "meet me by the tshirt stand". Jeff however, was really enthusiatic about seeing the next band, the Violent Femmes. I frankly didn't give a damn, because I've only heard one song by them, and I didn't even like it. So I left my spot and squeezed my way to the hallway, and watched as my spot was rushed.

Well, turns out he WAS telling the truth, because I saw JF and a small group over by the tshirt stand. Not to get off topic......but $25 for a shirt? yeah right!! We waited a bit for John to finish with some of the fans and then I let Brad go first. He introduced himself and had John sign the setlist, and then told him about our radio show Chante Beusche at WPI and how we are working on getting an interview with them for when TMBG performs here April 28. Instead of blowing us off, he actually seemed interested and started asking questions about our show, and whether it would be live or taped (something we aren't quite sure of ourself, but either would work) and Brad gave him the business card with the Chante Beusche contact information which he looked over and then pocketed. Basically, what we learned is that yeah, we gotta talk to their publicist, and he wanted to give us the # (since the social committee is still holding off on giving it to us) but he didn't have it on him, and that most likely we'd be able to interview them right after soundcheck, and to arrange to be able to get in for soundcheck at the auditorium. So then Brad also had him sign his shirt, which he autographed as "Dr Worm". Now it was my turn....first thing I did was ask him if I could shake his hand, since I've been a fan of his for at least 10 years, which he complied with. I then introduced him, and reiterated that I was really looking forward to seeing him at WPI and interviewing him. I had him sign my setlist (which he had to do twice because the first one was "the worst autograph I've ever written"), and then I backed off so the other fans would have a chance. After they finished, I came back up to him and had him sign my shirt, and brad & I asked him why they didn't answer our requests to play "Boat of Car" and he said "oh....well we NEVER do that song anymore" ....... and I also asked him, due both to curiosity and the fact that the newsgroup keeps talking about this, whether Thunderbird would be published. John said that "the song has been kinda tucked away for a while, but he thinks it'll probably make it onto the next album." Anyway, I could tell that he was itching to get going, so I thanked him again for a great show, and then let him be on his way. Whoa -- I met John Flansburgh!!!

Anyway, Brad & I had to decide what to do next. I decided to give my friend Katherine a call, since I missed catching up with her earlier. Anyway, she was busy, so I asked her what there was to do to waste time, and she gave me directions to the fraternties, which turned out to be a couple of blocks away. I decided that it was probably not a good idea to be walking around at night in unfamiliar territory, so we just ended up waiting around for the next hour and a half, alternating between inside and outside. All I can say about the Violent Femmes: first of all, their lead singer wasn't there, so it really dug into their ability to perform, secondly - the acoustics were HORRIBLE, and whenever the saxaphone was being played all I could hear was ringing feedback, and thirdly - they sucked. So we just waited it out (and brad stole a couple of souvinears from the merchandise table) and let Jeff have a good time, and then the moment the show ended, we grabbed him and got the heck out of there.

Review: well, I can't really compare this to my first TMBG show, since that one had the 8 piece brass section. It was also a NYC show, so they were more experimental and less on the "greatest hits" spectrum than the Providence show was. But besides the pushy audience members, I really enjoyed the show tonight. It was a thrill in itself to finally meet John Flansburgh, and another thrill to get a setlist from the show. Really, I didn't even notice any acoustic problems during the TMBG set; maybe they are more experienced at dealing with these types of problems? There were a number of my favourites that I missed seeing, but it was great to finally see Ana, Cyclops, Sun and Fingertips live, and again - Fang was really kewl too. It was also a shame that they were hornless, but really - they did a great job of covering the parts!!! So I'd rank this the lower of the two shows, but still at least a B. My next one is in 9 days......can't wait!!! No photos or recordings from tonight, but I'll scan that setlist when I get the chance. And Dan Miller wasn't wearing a hat.