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It ["New York City"] was actually the song we played on the morning of September 11 in Tower Records. It's a little hall-of-mirrors-y: there's a film about us [Gigantic (A Tale Of Two Johns)] and the filmmaker was finishing the film on the morning of September 11, 2001. We were in the old Tower Records, on 4th and Broadway, and we're playing a record release party [for Mink Car] in the film. The attacks on the World Trade Center had not yet happened--those were still a few hours in the future--and we were playing after midnight, as it was a midnight record release party. It's a kind of sweet thing; we're just there, there's a really nice crowd, the place is full of happy people, and we played "New York City," and it's one of the last moments of the film. He planned out the film to finish making it on the day of our record release, which happened to coincide with the attacks on the city. It has this feeling of a previous era being celebrated that ended that day. New York is still a nice place, actually. But it's a very poignant thing, this scene in the movie. It was sort of an amazing coincidence. He doesn't even mention the attacks in the movie. I think there's a title card that says "September 11: Record Release Party" and then it's the end of the movie.
Review by richegreen
after wandering around NYC (which at the time was extremely peaceful and mellow) for about an hour, I finally located the Tower Records at 4th and Broadway around 1040PM. There was a line going back about half a block for fans waiting to see the show. I met two grad students from NYU and talked to them for most of the wait (sorry, I can't remember their names). Finally, around 11:20PM we were let inside.
The space in that store was quite cramped, and the stage wasn't raised so it was pretty hard to see anything from the spot I got about halfway back...at first I was wondering if it was worth it to come out all the way from Massachusetts (especially since the rumor in the line is that they'd only be playing 4 songs). Soon after everyone got in, the John's took the stage. I was able to see mostly just the heads of them.
They began by mentioning that they had just come from the Bowery Ballroom where they were rehersing and re-learning all the songs on the new album, and began with the title track Mink Car. The entire performance was just the two Johns, an accordion, and some maraca shakers manned by Flans. After the first song, Flans mentioned that his guitar was stuck in a truck somewhere on the NJ freeway, so this was gonna be another fucked up show where they had no idea what would happen (FYI - my last TMBG show was the worcester show where linnell didn't have a voice and again, they had no idea what would happen). Throughout most of the performance, it was apparant that They hadn't planned on doing a guitar-less show, and They kept huddling between songs to decide what to do next.
The second song was a "swing" version of Cyclops Rock that was extremely interesting. Flans sang Nixon for the first verse, didn't yell DAN right before the guitar solo (played on accordion), and after the solo, they skipped the send verse and went back to the chorus.
After Cyclops, Linnell said that he didn't think there were any other Mink Car songs they'd be able to play with this setup, so they'd be heading to the back cataloge. Fans started yelling out names of old songs (Replacements, I've Got A Match, Kiss Me Son of God etc) .... I of course was screaming for Boat of Car as usual ... and then Flans whispered something into Linnell's ear and they immediately started on Particle Man, played mostly like it appears on the album.
After Particle Man came my biggest personal experience moment of the night. They pointed out the guy filming the documentary, and mentioned that this was the last night of filming for it, and asked if there was anything that they've left out. Fans started screaming out song titles again, and I enthusiastically kept screaming out for Boat of Car....and in a miracle of miracles, unannounced, Linnell began playing the opening notes to... BOAT OF CAR!!! Flans did all of the singing on this song, and instead of singing the "daddy sing bass" part he just made a deep breathing sound into his mic, and the foghorn noise was played on the accordion. Linnell joined Flans on vocals for the last 3 "on the boat of car"'s. After that, I just went nuts and most of the rest of the night was kind of a blur to me, but now I was sure that it was worth the trip to go to this show, as I've been waiting for 9 years to see that song performed live.
After Boat was finished (which was as close to musical perfection as was possible, considering that it's probably been years since they've even rehersed it), both Johns just had huge smiles on their faces, and there was some more stage banter and Flans dared Linnell to try to cover the parts to New York City (a song which'll probably never be the same again), and he was up to the challenge. The song got a huge audience reaction from the very first notes. the line "wish I was there" was replaced with "the guy with the cell phone." After they got thru a very very good crippled version of NYC, Linnell stated "I can do ANYTHING on just accordion!"
After NYC was Mammal, and then Lines Upon a Tranquil Brow (both of which are live firsts for me....and Brow in particular got a lot of laughs from the audience), and then Ensor and they finished with Istanbul. There was plenty of stage banter between these songs, but I'll leave it to somebody with a recording of the show to comment on these. After Istanbul, the tower records employees were telling everybody to get out to the sidewalk so they could reset the store, but both Johns were publically pleading with the staff to let us stay inside, believing that we as newyorkers are civilized enough to not rush the stage or "me-first" everyone else, but we were ultimately all thrown out and made another line around the block. This time I was a bit closer to the front of the line. It was about 15 minutes (it was around 12:10 that the performance ended) before we were let back in, and I met another nice NYU student Lisa, and we exchanged some stories and talked about the new album, and I also saw my friend Katelyn as she was making for the end of the line.
The signing that night was really really informal. The John's were willing to sign anything you wanted to throw out them (some fans threw themselves at them to be signed), and were doing multiple autographs for fans who brought a bunch of stuff. the front of the store had a rack set up with all of the Restless TMBG albums, including Mink Car (non of the elektra albums were anywhere in sight). The cashiers were also giving out a 5 song promo sampler to anybody who bought an album there. When my turn came, I was greeted first by Flans who said "hi, what's your name?" and I said Richard and he wrote a big "RICH!" over the TMBG shirt I had in my hand, and then signed my two shirts, and Mink and the promo cd. After that I moved over to Linnell's side of the table and chatted with him a bit about the new album and keyboardin and stuff. It took him a couple of seconds to remember me (I had an interview arranged with him last April which had to be cancelled because of his voice problems), but he opened up more to me and stopped acting freaked out by my presence once he made the connection, and continued to talk to me while he signed some other people's stuff. He somehow missed signing one of my shirts, but signed everything else as "John Sid". Finally, after a couple of minutes of talking to Linnell (Flans was being bombarded by a group of teenage girls this entire time, so I didn't even try to get many words in with him), I posed for a photo with the two Johns, and got out of there. It was around 1:15 when I finally left. One thing to note - they were both remaining completely silent about any upcoming NYC shows. They just said that any information would be posted on the website when it's made public, but didn't give any speculation either way about whether there would be any booked this year.
Little did I know that this would be the last time I saw NYC in its current state....it was still peaceful and sedate when I left to walk into Grand Central. Of course, that's another story, and not quite TMBG related.
Review by --Self Called Nowhere 04:00, 23 June 2008 (UTC):
This was my very very first show and I was super-excited, to say the least. I managed to get a spot near the frontok, at the very front, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF JOHN LINNELL actually. It's probably fortunate the thing was so short or I probably would have...I don't know what... I was near the front of the first line so I got to see them go in. Linnell was first (he was wearing his glasses and continued to do so for the whole night, which thrilled me) and waved and smiled when a few of us yelled at him. Flansburgh was a couple of minutes later. He came over with a box of Mink Car albums and handed out about 6"Here, buy some too." Once we got inside I spent a few minutes just staring at John, close enough to say something if I wanted to (they hadn't started playing yet) but too stunned to do so. Eventually I asked him if it would be a problem if I took pictures (since I was so close). He shook his head and said, "Nope." Flans said "Yeah, take lots of pictures!"
Also, right before they started I tried to tell Linnell that his shoe (well-worn off-white Converse hightops with the plastic ends of the laces broken off) was untied, but he ignored me. The only other thing of interest I can recall at the moment (other than obsessive-ish observations about John) is that when the guy in front of me was trying to get his CD signed Flans handed it back to him cos the plastic label on the top wasn't broken. I said "But we thought you could open it using your superpowers!" (yeah, I get so witty when I'm around cool people). He laughed. "Well, we don't have any of those..."
KEROSENE: I was at this in-store performance and I met a guy and his gf there who took my picture with the johns. I was wearing a Red Sox hat and I was really drunk. If you are that guy or gf: Do you still have that pic? I lost it after You emailed it to me. That was a crazy night and the picture is real important to me. I was actually hit by a van on bowery and walked around bleeding til someone brought me to the firestation then i went to the hospital and after they stitched me up i snuck out to make it to Tower for they Might Be Giants. the next day i woke up on the sidewalk near houston and broadway and there was fire coming out of one of the wtc towers. It was a real weird time. Id like to find this pic if anyone can help. thanks. -kerosene