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review by Richard E Green (originally posted to
Yes, here it is, another Richard E Green trademark super long and overly detailed concert review. This one is for the They Might Be Giants show at Lupo's in Providence, RI on October 27, 2001. This will be my 5th show, and the 1st of 4 (possibly 5) shows on the Mink Tour, and this was the best, most amazing TMBG.....possibly the best OVERALL concert I've ever seen in my life! I attended with my friends Brad and Quinn. This was also Brad's 5th show so he knew very well what was in store for us, but it was Quinn's 1st show (not counting the 9/10 instore) so it was going to be a brand new experience.

Brad & I actually had two items on our agenda for this night. Besides seeing the concert, we were also going to be making up the interview that we had scheduled with John Linnell for our radio show Chante Beusche last April, which was turned into an interview with Danny Weinkauf after John arrived without a speaking voice. So we had to get to the theater quite early. There were some conflicts which caused our departure to begin late, but we arrived in Providence a couple minutes after 5PM. Lupo's is a standing room only theater/bar which is actually pretty small compared to most of the concert venues I've been to in the last couple of years. The three most interesting aspects of Lupos are 1. that there is standing room on both sides of the stage as well as in front, 2. that the balcony area actually has couches instead of seats and 3. that the stage is carpeted. The theater is actually so well camouflaged on the block corner that we drove by a couple of times before noticing it. And after that we had a major parking problem to deal with, and finally settled with the $10 parking lot across the street.

When we arrived at the theater we were just able to walk in thru the side door which provided access to the stage (there really isn't a backstage area like most of the theaters I've been in lately). The Dans were already on stage preparing for soundcheck, and John Linnell was in the dressing room/coatcheck room.....I guess John Flansburgh was on the bus because he came in a couple of minutes later. We met Dave the tour manager and introduced ourselves, and he told us that we should come back at 6PM after soundcheck, and should get about 25 minutes. He quickly confirmed with JL about the interview, who just simply said "cool".

The soundcheck began a couple of minutes later. After a couple minutes of puttering around with JL on keyboards and everyone else on their respective instruments, John donned the accordion and they began with Whistling in the Dark. The next song was a song I've been waiting for YEARS to hear live -- the STD version of They Got Lost!! After that was a cover of The Who's Pinball Wizard, with Dan Miller on acoustic guitar, JF on vocals and JL on baritone sax (what is it about TMBG and doing Who covers this tour???). JF left after that song, but they finished with one more song....The Macarana.

After soundcheck finished up, we went back to Brad's car to get the recording equipment, and got everything set up. The opening band OK Go was beginning to set up their equipment for soundcheck, so we were put into their dressing room (which was a tiny room with green walls which basically consisted of a door with no doorknob, a couple chairs, and very unstable table and one desk lamp providing light....I can't wait to be an opening band at Lupos!!!). I've had a long, hard streak of bad TMBG luck, but fortunately the only bad luck we ran into that night was that at 6PM, John received a phone call, which took up about 10 minutes of our interview time, so we only had 15 minutes. John was then brought in, accompanied by a cup of black coffee, and we introduced each other again (and just like last time, it took a sec to jog his memory but then he remembered us and everything was cool). He seemed in really good spirits that evening, and it was a real pleasure to interview him. This will be airing on our show Chante Beusche on Sunday, November 4th at 4PM EST, .... I don't want to spoil the interview, but some of the topics discussed were the current status of No!.... some information about the Gigantic Documentary..... a discussion of Mink Car, including the process of taking on so many new styles, why Nixon was changed to Chucky, the oversight of a song named Bangs as a potential UK hit, and the reasoning of why the demo and final versions had such drastic changes.....a look ahead to the NEXT studio album, and which songs in their catalouge still have a chance of making it onto there.....TMBG Unlimited, and how much creative input JL actually has in it (he blames all the recent lameness on Flans....)....John's views of the WTC disaster.....the current tour.....and then Dave came in and informed us that we had to wrap up. I'm sure John would've loved to talk to us for another half hour, and he thanked us for putting on such an interesting and informative interview, and we returned the thanks.

Now that the interview was over, it was time to focus on our second agenda item -- seeing TMBG in concert! We went back outside and got in line. There were about 5 people in line so far, and so we placed Quinn in line, and Brad and I brought our equipment back to the car and then went on a quest for dinner, finally settling at the Moe's truck diner. When we returned, somehow a bunch of people got in line ahead of us....oh well. We began the long wait until 8PM when the doors opened. At one point, Danny Weinkauf came by, and we chased him down so that we could give him a cd of the interview we did with him last April. He immediately remembered us, and was happy to receive the cd, and informed us that Mike the Tshirt guy was no longer with them. I asked if they were planning on performing Hopeless Bleak Despair and he said that it hasn't been done in a long time, but he would put in a special request for it for us tonight, and mentioned that it was his favourite song on the new album. In my only idiot security guy encounter of the night, when the line began moving Brad and I got sent to the end of the line because we were supossed to be in a separate guestlist line....but fortunately there were only 15 people in that line, so the turnover wasn't too bad. Quinn was able to get us spots in my usual place -- front row right in front of JL's keyboard stand, so everything worked out nicely. For those watching the webcast, I was the guy in the red hockey jersey. Time for the next long wait before OK Go took the stage.

Well, not too much to say about OK Go. They came out and offered us three choices for cover songs to start with, from three bands I've never heard of. There were three highlights of their performance -- an interesting song called Trains where they wore flashlights on their heads, a song called Women+Men (no relation at ALL to the TMBG song) which involving some Beastie Boyesque rapping, and a cover of TMBG's Kiss Me Son of God played on guitar, with plenty of audience participation. Brad grabbed the keyboard player's setlist after they finished, which listed the songs (interestingly "TMBG Cover" was written instead of "Kiss Me" they do any other TMBG covers?) and had references marked MD to songs which had pre-recorded tracks. Alright, time for the show :)

There was a lot of downtime between sets, but it went by pretty easily because there was plenty of crew work to watch on the stage switching equipment. As an up-and-coming rock musician I took much interest in watching this. One thing I noticed is that the cannon was not plugged into the power strip taped to the side of the keyboard stand. I also noticed that there was confetti on the ground, so it's possible somebody accidentally set the cannon off before the show, but more about that later. They also placed towels on top of the setlists, preventing any of us from cheating and looking. I could see the two encores written in, the same ones they've been using all tour, and I saw what the last song of the regular set was, but the rest was a mystery to me. Finally, at 10:26PM Space Krickets began playing, and the band took the stage. I noticed that JL was now wearing this trashy dirty ghetto white tshirt instead of his traditional striped shirt, which was kinda weird but the chicks seemed to dig it. JF took stage center and began playing guitar....the first song was actually Older but I couldn't tell aside from the guitar effect since the solo sounded nothing like it. JL sang the entire song, and part B went like this: "time is marching on....and time............psych!! still marching on!"

Older segued straight into the most rocking version of Cyclops Rock I've ever heard. He sang "chucky" but oh well. It was still super great. Next came about 5 minutes of stage banter. JF introduced the band and then started talking about how Lupo's is always such an interesting experience because of the "Sensurround" stage that they have there, since all they need to do is turn 90 degrees and it'l like performing for a completley new audience, which Flans actually did for some of the songs. The audience kept yelling for the song SenSurround, but since the Dans didn't know it they weren't able to actually play thru it :( . JL then announced that the next song would be celebrating its 1000th performance tonight. I guessed correctly, it was Ana Ng! Ana was done in it's traditional 21th century style, and for some reason i seemed to be the only person doing the ana dance during the refrain. nice way to celebrate it's millennium performance!!! It segued right into James K Polk, also done traditionally. I noticed that John hit the switch on the power strip about 4 times at the appropriate moment, but since there was no cannon plugged into it, nothing happened. Everyone in the band bowed at the end, and JL then mentioned that "traditionally shows usually go much better when the confetti cannon DOESN'T go off. Infact, I'm not sure we've ever tried to use it in Lupo's. The low ceiling here might cause some deadly impacts. Anyway, here's a song from our new record Mink Car".

JL was sure wrong because this is when the show first went to hell. Another First Kiss went great for the first verse (it's very cool live) but then Flans came in on the third verse instead of the second, and then immediately called for the song to come to a stop. At this point, something caused all his hair to start standing straight up, and he had this psycho smile and this look on his face that was the cross between the too-much-coffeeman comic, a serial killer and a mad scientist who had just been struck by lightning, and after staring at what seemed to be right at me for about 40 seconds without moving he declared "this show has now officially been declared fuct! It's been about a month since we've played this song, and we were talking on the bus today and decided we should be able to handle it, but then the medication just HAD to set in right in the middle of that song. JL: "yanno, one of the problems we've always had one stage is the lack of the ability for Dan Hickey and I to see each other. I don't know what this has to do with anything, but I thought I'd throw that insight in." JF:"Alright, this is usually the part of the show where we suggest the band is overdue for a cigarette break. Dan Miller's mom was at the show last night so we couldn't talk about his smoking habit, but I think it's time for Dan to go have a smoke. Let's get into something more traditional now." and they proceeded into She's Actual Size, which wasn't even on the setlist at all. Although John's barisax was there, he played organ on the song, and then the dial-a-drum-solo routine began, with 13 styles, ending with "press 13 for Animal from the Muppets"

After Actual, the band found their way back to stage and JF asked "think we can handle Edith Head?" and they made it thru that song, and it kicked major ass. And then JL donned the accordion and played Particle Man, with the Butterfly of Love interlude. As usual, it got a huge response from the audience. He then announced "we're still in the key of G" and proceeded right into Women and Men!!! Wow, I wasn't expecting that! That song is GREAT live!!

After that, JL: "I'm tired of the key of G. We need a new key. the key of G is dead" JF: "the key of G is deader than the expression "deader than". It's deader than the expression "you go girlfriend" JL: "which is actually two dead expressions in one." JF: "hey. tell it to the hand!" JL: "anyway, we're moving up to the key of F#. A very strange key. Audiences the world over look at us weird for using the key of F#" JF: "I remember that one southern show we did where some guy yelled out "y'all use goofy keys" and I was just like "fuck all y'all!" JL: "I remember that show we were doing in Britain where some guy said (speaking in a PERFECT british accent) "say chap, that key of F# is quite the puzzler" and I was like "tell it to the hand, chap" and then he proceeded to perform Dr Worm in a british accent! For the vocal solo, he sang the standard album lyrics, but then animal from the muppet show interupted halfway thru it. God I love Dr Worm :)

JF: "this next song features Mr Dan "Guitar Player Magazine" Miller on keyboard, and Mr John "keyboards" Linnell on sax. The song was Yeh I think I have new favourite concert song! Words cannot describe the beauty of the live version of this song.

Next, I find out that I'm on a 2 show streak for requesting songs, because JL declares "who wants some Hopeless Bleak Despair??? Everyone needs some hopeless bleak despair! everyone cheer for hopeless bleak despair!!!" and proceeded to rally on and then they performed it. Actually, it was very true to the album version. JL did that choking the mic stand thing during most of the song since there wasn't really a keyboard part. I also noticed that Danny W looked over at us and smiled at the beginning of the song, and I waved back and said thanks. At the last note of the song, the stage went black. The next thing i heard was an instrument from the proteus 2000 sound module known as "grim reaper" and was listed on the setlist as Doom. It was this dark spooky instrumental song that JL played solo on the keyboard while JF got the radio set up for Spin the Dial. The three guitar players were all facing the right side of the stage as JF introduced the concept of spin the dial. there were a couple of happy-go-lucky songs performed, none of which I recognized. And then JL just started playing the organ intro to Twisting, which was pretty true to its traditional rocking jamming concert version. At the last note of Twisting, the stage went black again and Space Krickets started playing AGAIN and every musician except for John and John left the stage, and JF went over to right in front of the drum set. After about 30 seconds of krickets, the spotlights were focused on the disco ball over the audience, and the prerecorded track of Man It's So Loud in Here was played. This song featured plenty of strobe lights, blinking lights, and the disco ball, and as for the performance of it, think of the Conan appearance last month. Kickass

JF: "this next song isn't available anywhere, so you won't know the lyrics to it, unless you have a T1, otherwise your fuct" and J&J performed the children's version of Robot Parade (note -- the adult ver of this song is available on the EP at the merchandise stand, and it has the exact same his statement makes no sense) and then did a musical segue into Shoehorn, with the glockenspiel (see all the other mink tour reviews for the details of this, cuz it's exactly the same).

JL: this is another song from the MINK CAR record. Hovering Sombrero. kewl. They went right into Boss of Me. During the instrumental section in the middle, JF broke his A string, so he proceeded to rip off all the other strings except for the low E and the D, and finished the song on those two strings, and then switched to the brown guitar afterwards.

Birdhouse was next, and was performed as usual, but the guitar solo was introduced as "deux guitares", and also during the third verse Dan Hickey started doing ANOTHER animal from the muppets impression, right on the "which stood on rocky shores part" and JL actually turned around and stared at him for 5 seconds before getting back into the song. NYC was next, which seemed to get a very huge amount of applause. wonder why? And then Bangs....again pretty close to the album ver. and then as soon as The Guitar started, JF took his glasses off.....whoa. weird. he looks normal now. uhm ok. and JF took the solo HIMSELF at the part that used to be the bass solo. Not bad for a guy who's been accused of not knowing how to play guitar. At the end of the song, JL ran out to the middle of the stage and did a surfer's pose. JF put his glasses back on and declared "we want you to want the sun!!!" and Why Does the Sun Shine began, with JL singing lead vocals...but not playing keyboard for some reason. "the sun is so hot that everything on it is a gas: jewerly making equipment, kilms, macrame, my teeth"

continuing this neverending streak of songs, they went into one of the biggest surprises of the night -- Dig My Grave!!! This is another favourite oldie that I've never heard live before. It was short and sweet ;)

JL donned the accordion again and talked about how great a theater Lupo's is. So much greater than all those other small theaters they play at (some guy in the audience yells TOADS!!!) and he said "yep". I just want to thank everyone for being so great. I wish there was a way to thank everyone individually, but thanks to the fans, to our crew, to the local crew here, to everyone, and then played Angel, with Dan miller on acoustic guitar.

JF: we have one more song for you tonight. People ask us where we get ideas for our songs, well we're sworn to secrecy not to tell you where we got this idea, and they closed with Working Undercover for the Man, and then walked off stage......and then came right back a minute later and performed "another song from our MINK CAR --- MINK car -- mink CAR record, which is called........MINK CAR!" JF sang this one with no guitar, doing his best lounge lizard impression. at the line "i got hit by a mink car" he actually DID pretend he got hit by a car, and the flugelhorn solo was played by dan miller on electric guitar. Next up was a song they forced themselve to learn painfully -- FINGERTIPS!!!!!! Yeah, this time we didn't even get tons of strange looks for singing along obnoxiously to it. for the I'm having a heart attack song, JF sang "girl you know it's true", and for the 4th heart attack line JL just sang "bwahAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAhahahahha" and then they left again. When they came back for the second encore, JF was now wearing the maroon TMBG 2001 tour shirt. weird. Coincidentially I was wearing one too. It with the long intro by dan miller on acoustic, except he played a segment from pinball wizard in the beginning. anyway, you know the song. so then it was over. I immediately went for JL's setlist, and despite the carpeted floor was able to get it untaped without ripping the paper TOO much. with the exception of Actual being added, it was exactly the same as what was done live.

After the show ended, the three Dans came out to sign autographs. Since Brad had an early flight the next day and was in a hurry to get home, we only stopped to see Danny Weinkauf. I thanked him for getting Hopeless back in the set, and he thanked me for requesting it. He signed the setlist, and also mentioned that he already listened to half of the interview cd I gave him, and thanked us for giving it to him. Then we got outta there ;)

overall views: wow, that has gotta be the best TMBG show I've ever seen. It also clocked in at 1 hour and 52 minutes, so it was by far the longest too. It was really great that we finally got that interview with John done. I was really worried that something was going to go wrong again. Everyone in the TMBG crew are friendly people, and their concert setting is really a nice atmosphere to be a part of. I really hope that They Got Lost makes it back into the set. First, Women, Yeh, Hopeless, Doom, Spin, Man, Hovering, Bangs, Dig and Working were all first time experiences for me, which made tonight's show especially fun to watch, since I didn't know what was gonna happen. I guess the biggest flaw I noticed was that JL only used the sax on ONE song the entire night. There was really A LOT more banter than what I reported, but I'm having a hard time remembering everything. I know there were a couple other places that JL used his excellent british accent, and at least one more place where there was an inappropriate drum solo during songs. You should be able to refer to the webcast at to hear them and get the exact quotes, since these quotes are all from memory. I also really hope that webcast caught the expression on JF's face after he messed up First Kiss, it was priceless! Unless I get convinced to go to the New Haven show on Monday, my next show is in 3 days in Boston.

I need a nap now.....

review by Silva Fang
I went down to visit my sister at Providence College, and while I was there I went and caught my first ever They Might Be Giants concert. Awesome stuff. The warm-up band was OkGo, they were pretty good, and they played a cover of Kiss Me, Son of God. They Might Be Giants came out about a half hour after Okgo was done. It was the best concert I've ever seen, I'm definitely going again next time they come anywhere near me.

by Drw :

(TMBG plays Particle Man and Women&Men, both in the key of G)
L: John, I am just SICK of this key of G! It is dead man!
F: You're tellin me!
L: It was dead before it started!
F: It's deader than grunge man!
L: It's over
F: It's deader than crowd surfing. It's deader than bellbottoms the second time around.
L: I hear that! It's deader than the expression 'I hear that'
F: It's deader than the expression 'too much information'
L: let's uhm...
F: tell it to the hand john!
L: ...find another key. You go there girlfriend!
F: yeah that's the expression I was looking for when I said 'too much information'
L: Reviving the corpse of western culture. Here's a fresh new key....the very difficult key of F#. Not used very much
F: I remember when we were playing in the south and people come up to me and say (in a hick accent) "why'd y'all play the song in 'de odd key of F#?" and we'd say...."fuck all y'all"!
L: we added the y'all part so they'd understand what we were saying. In fact I remember doing an overseas show when they were going (in a perfect british accent) "I SAY chaps...what the devil is up with that strange KEY you played in? I say!" to which we say "tell it to the hand!"
F: tell it to the hand...chaps!

(TMBG plays DR Worm)