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- I Left My Body
- Damn Good Times
- Why Does The Sun Shine?
- Mrs. Bluebeard
- Your Racist Friend
- The Statue Got Me High
- All Time What
- Hearing Aid
- The Mesopotamians
- When The Lights Come On
- Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes
- This Microphone
- Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal
- Particle Man
- Last Wave (video)
- Quiet Storm
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
- Bills, Bills, Bills
- New York City
- Birdhouse In Your Soul
- Wicked Little Critta
- Number Three
- Man, It's So Loud In Here
- The Guitar
Fan Recaps and Comments:
- Before the band took the stage for Set 2, the original video for Last Wave was shown to the audience, featuring the song being put to the music video of Run DMC's cover of "Walk This Way".
They opened with "I Left My Body," and then came an amusing mix-up. The band was playing what was clearly the beginning of "Damn Good Times," and Flans started talking over it. "We're They Might Be Giants from Brooklyn, New York! We have a new album out and this is the single! It's called 'Why Does the Sun Shine?'!"
And then everyone stopped playing because of course "Why Does the Sun Shine?" wasn't the next song--y'know, as evidenced by the fact that they'd already started playing the next song and it was obviously not it. John said, "None of that was true. Not a single word of it. We are not They Might Be Giants." Flans: "Hi, we're Cheap Trick!"
So then they went back to playing what they were actually supposed to be playing. When I'm singing along at shows I normally always sing the lead part, but not on this one--I sing along with John's "Damn! Good times!" in the chorus because it's way more fun and also inevitably describes how I'm feeling right then.
"Why Does the Sun Shine?" actually was the next song up. John informed us that if the sun were hollow a million earths would fit inside "comfortably," and also that "Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine. They're wrong. But that's what they've found." Also, the heat and light of the sun were caused by the nuclear reaction between "hydrogen, something else, that guy, and everything."
Afterwards, Flans said, "We're frozen in time, but this audience seems more bearded than ever." Then he said that these are complicated, shitty times, and that they were surprised when their management told them they have a new album out. But they thought that was cool, and when they listened to the copies they gave them they discovered that it was "so much better than it had to be." Then he explained that they'd be playing two sets and we should "treat us like you would any other opener--with total emotional distance."
Flans introduced "Mrs. Bluebeard" by saying it was "the part of the show I've all been waiting for." I was looking forward to it too, because at this point I'd just become deeply curious about if John was ever going to manage to get the lyrics right. The correct answer to this question turned out to be NOPE. He messed it up yet again, though he at least managed to do better than the previous night, when some of the things he was singing weren't even words.
After they played "Your Racist Friend," Flans said that during the song he'd been "rocking out stage left" and he'd seen a guy who had his camera out but then had immediately put it away "like he expected me to go all Axl Rose on him." Then he said a thing he'd been joking about other times about how they wanted to encourage flash photography (joke though it may have been, it would've been about the only way one could reliably get decent pictures with the terrible backlit lighting setup they were using), and also if we were recording a bootleg we should send them a copy. He also said that if we had any work emails to catch up on we should feel free to go ahead and do it now.
Next they played "The Statue Got Me High"--on keyboard again, siiiiiiiigh. Once again it was too difficult for me to push past how upset I was about this to properly enjoy one of my all-time fav songs.
After that, John put the contra-alto clarinet on. Flans said that they wanted to thank their corporate sponsor, Microsoft, and that this was Clippy, the mascot of Microsoft Word. John said that he should have just left it at Microsoft, and Flans said he was leaving it at that, that this was all he was allowed to say. Then John told us that it was the contra-alto clarinet. "It's not legal unless you say the whole name." Flans said it was "unrelated to other contra groups," and John said it was "equally controversial." Then Flans said it would be implanting a tracking device in us.
So then they played "All Time What." The more I see that song live, the more I like it.
Afterwards, Flans said that normally he would ask John how his day was, but this time he didn't need to ask because they'd actually spent the whole day together. He said that they'd discussed some documentary about Chicago and "whether the moral ambiguity of Three Billboards was ok or not." Then John said that they'd met four Uber drivers, all of whom enjoyed the job, which surprised him. Flans said they all seemed to have post-doc educations and were interrupting their conversations to correct them about stuff--he said it had happened when they were discussing controlling children and also when they were discussing drugs.
Then John asked Flans if he was staring at his setlist to see what the next song was, and Flans said he absolutely wouldn't slow the show down by doing that (as if knowing what the next song is wasn't the entire purpose of them having setlists in the first place). Then John said the next song was in the movie Mayor of the Sunset Strip, and Flans said the reference was "for people who are old enough to know that Laugh-In wasn't funny." John: "I Think there are people who are old enough to be operating under the delusion that Laugh-In was funny." The song was "Bangs."
Next was "Hearing Aid," and after Flans said that they were "testing the threshold of the PA."
JL: I think I feel the subwoofers under me.
JF: I think subwoofers are very expensive, John. *takes microphone off stand* When I take the mic off like this, do you feel like you're about to get a TED Talk? Disrupters. Next slide.
JL: You thought this, but no, that.
JF: A new way of making deals. They do the work, you make the money. It'll cost you a little to get in on this opportunity.
JL: All we need is the kajillions of dollars that you all have.
JF: We just need one investor, who has nothing but his Jimi Hendrix replica guitars. We actually did a TED Talk, and we were part of the "what's wrong with this picture" brigade. The theme of the weekend was "genius," which seemed a little fulsome, as my mother would say. We played at like 9 AM, and I was joking that we'd never played that early except at a librarian convention. And afterwards a librarian came up to me and said, "Libraries don't open at 9 AM."
John introduced "The Mesopotamians" by saying it was from "a TV show that was on very early, before Laugh-In."
Before "When the Lights Come On," Flans said that he "forgot if they had an intro to this song," and John said, "That was it right there. You just found it." GOD this song is SO FUCKING GOOD live. I'm so happy that they're playing it so much.
Next came "Nothing's Gonna Change my Clothes" (two completely glorious songs in a row!). All the times I've seen this one live, John sings it in the cadence of the demo, which makes me really happy because I love that version.
After that John held up his coffee and said "Mazel tov." Flans said he didn't think he'd ever heard him say that before, and John said Danny said that he'd said it a couple of days ago. He said Flans said he didn't think he'd ever heard him say it before that time too, but then he said he didn't remember saying it at all. Flans said it was like a KISS concert, with one of them saying over and over that they'd never played a certain song before (which of course made me think of "P.S.O.K."). Then he said that the other day on Twitter some Trump administration official had used the phrase "mazel tov cocktail," and "I salute their scrambled brain." John said that they were talking about all this unrelated stuff and someone had just yelled "We love you!" and it was as if they were saying "Come back!"
After "This Microphone," Flans introduced Curt and said he'd come from Connecticut on a minibike. Then he asked Marty if he was playing a hollowed-out orange, and then asked if he bought it that way or if it came in a kit, then asked him if his sponsor was here. Then Marty said it was supposed to stay on the drumstick, but he hadn't been able to get it to, and Flans said "So you did a mod. It's like a life hack." Then he said that Marty was "putting percussionists out of business."
Next they played "Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal," which remains one of the absolute show highlights for me with Curt there. Where we were standing there was a pole just to the right of John when he was at his keyboard, and I was bopping around so much during that song that I kept having the pole block my view of him. Being able to see him during shows is normally priority #1 for me, but I couldn't help it! That's just what that song + trumpet does to me!
They closed the first set with "Particle Man," and then returned for the Quiet Storm. They opened with "Older" as per usual. This time John was pointing at the crowd for parts of it as if he were Death himself (ala that one fantastic Mink Car promo picture).
After "I Like Fun," Flans said that they love the old songs, and they particularly love this one cos it's "so damn old." People were yelling things out, and Flans said "You can shout out all the names of what you think we're going to play and you'll be wrong." Then he said the song was full of "vitriol and unbridled hostility," which was very appealing to them.
So then they of course played "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," and then did an introduction to "James K. Polk" that was pretty similar to the night before: John said they'd be going all the way from the 1840 of that song into the future of 1844, with "self-driving beards and electric buggy whips," and then that the song wasn't letting their true feelings about its subject come across, which are that "he was a dick." Flans: "It's value-neutral...about someone who was a dick." Then Flans said that he was the reason where we are right now in California is a part of America, but that isn't necessarily a good thing.
So next was "James K. Polk," of course. Right before the bridge, with Flans's solo, John did the silly thing he does sometimes where he says some variation of "John Flansburgh, explain!" Then, after Flans played the first half, he said, "I see, go on." There was also some quality spazziness during the last verse--he's often spazzy during that part, I'm not sure why but of course I love it.
Next they played "The Famous Polka."
JF: The only polka we know. People ask us how we sequence our songs--that was "Polk," and then "Polka." "Polk-a."
JL: That was also a Radiohead album.
JF: That was the good one. This next song is from the John Henry album. It's underrated.
JL: I think it's overrated.
JF: It's underrated by me.
JL: It has a histogram like this. *holds hand up, then moves down, then across, then up again* There are super-haters, and super-lovers.
It made me sad to hear John call it overrated, since it's tied as my favorite album. I do think he's right about how polarizing it is within fandom though, but the "super-haters" are WRONG WRONG WRONG.
So then they played MY SONG. I swear to god, I could see that song at every single show I go to from here on out and it would never stop being an incredibly special experience for me. I just love the song so, so, so MUCH, and it's a really big deal for me to see them play it. I always cheer like crazy when it's over.
That was the last song of the Quiet Storm, followed by "Istanbul." Then Flans introduced "Bills, Bills, Bills" by fist talking about when they did "Tubthumping." He said that the list of songs the AV Club gave them was "notorious and vaguely dubious," and that they had to figure out "how to make it feel good" so they had the staff come in and sing it with them. Then he said that after that they the "opportunity" to come back a second time, and that there are "many reasons not to cover Destiny's Child," but that the song is so complicated that now that they've learned it they don't want to drop it from the set, like they did it in vaudeville. Then he explained that John will sing Beyonce's part and he'll sing Kelly's part, and that she's "my favorite child--I think they call them children--not that I'm an expert." Then he said that there was "the third one" whose name he couldn't remember, and John said "You have to love all your children the same." Then people were yelling that the third one's name is Michelle, and Flans said "Michelle! It's even in the song!" (I'm not sure what he meant by this.)
So then they played the song (I became a Flansgirl for the length of it as per usual), then "New York City," then "Birdhouse in Your Soul."
When John was getting his Kaoss Pad ready for "Wicked Little Critta," he said, "I pressed the button that makes the song happen." After that he was telling someone in front that he couldn't quite read what their homemade shirt said but that it was "freaking me out." I'm not sure what it said exactly, but then Flans said (apparently in response to it) "Two votes? But what about the midterms?" Then he said he needed one for his mom, and then I think the person must've been starting to take the shirt off, because Flans said, "No no no! My mom's in Florida! She can wait!"
After that Flans went back to his joke of the night before about Dan Miller being Tabitha on Bewitched, repeated almost word-for-word the same as the previous night (disillusioning!), but with the new addition this time that they'd added this "fact" to Wikipedia and no one had caught it yet.
After a run of a bunch of great songs that I don't have any special comments on ("Number Three," "Answer," "Twisting," and "Man, It's So Loud in Here"), they did band intros and then Flans thanked "all the lit majors in the audience" (which was random but did make this particular lit major feel pretty awesome!).
They closed the main set with "The Guitar," rockin' and fantastic as always. As bonuses it featured John (adorably) hopping and (adorably) waving during the "the lion waves good-bye" bit in the last verse.
When they came back for the first encore Flans made an announcement that was very exciting to me as a Pacific Northwesterner: that they'd be touring Canada later in the year. He said they're going to be "going to cities that are a mistake to go to." Then he talked about how they just got the I Like Fun vinyl, and that it resembles "a fireman's calendar from 2012."
JF: This next song is for everyone.
JL: Well, almost everyone. *pause* I'm actually not sure what you mean by that.
JF: I didn't want to say that it's for you.
JL: Are we talking about the same song?
JF: "Do They Know It's Christmas?"?
The next song was actually "Dead," so yes that was a mysterious comment to make! But anyway I was thrilled to see it again, and even more thrilled when they followed it up with "Don't Let's Start" again.
When they came back for the second encore Flans was taking a picture of the crowd with his phone, and John was goofily posing at the edge of the stage to be in it too. When I found the picture later that night it was as great as I hoped it would be.
Then John said that he'd just noticed Danny wasn't wearing red pants, and Flans said we should check out the pants that he was wearing, which were these blue ones with a grid pattern that were indeed pretty wild. Then Flans was saying that there's some festival in Boston that they've played a lot, and that they kept having bands that were opening for them right before they made it big (the example he gave was The Cardigans), but one time it was a band called Royal Clown Revue, and he told the promoters that they absolutely did not want a band with a name like that opening for them, but that they told him it was a typo and it was actually Royal Crown Revue, and they were a ska band. Then he told Danny that if he "wanted to make a lateral move into Mighty Mighty Bosstones," he definitely could with those pants.
Then John was thanking us and said "We love you, in an inappropriate way," which was...strange.
The final song was "Doctor Worm," which I think is a good closer--I like it when they end with something really high-energy like that, and everyone gets so into that one.
So it ended up being exactly the same setlist as in San Diego the night before, which surprised me--I've been to shows multiple nights in a row quite a few times, and I don't think I've ever seen them not switch out at least a couple of the songs from one night to the next. The setlist consisted of some really terrific stuff, don't get me wrong, all of which was really exciting to see, but I'd be lying if I said I weren't a bit disappointed about it being exactly the same. Still had an amazing time, of course!
The final all-important JL wardrobe report: he was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, and I managed to be less upset about his dumb haircut than I was the night before.