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I was really excited about this show, the second at the Fillmore in as many nights, because I knew they'd be changing the setlist up a fair amount, as they always do when they play more than one show in a row in the same place. I was even more excited when a bit before the show Flans posted on Facebook that there would be fifteen new songs, which was practically a full half of the show!

They opened with "Pencil Rain"--that one was definitely a surprise. I think the only time I've seen that song outside of the two Lincoln shows I've been to was at one of the Brooklyn New Year's Eve shows a few months before this. I don't think it's one of the absolute best songs on Lincoln, there are definitely other songs I'd rather see, but any song from that album is gonna be some degree of amazing, so it was definitely cool to see it.

Afterwards, Flans said that they know it's disappointing when bands play too many new songs (WRONG--or at least, wrong when the new songs in question are as fantastic as the ones on I Like Fun!), so when they said they were going to play a new song we should pretend it was our favorite song, and they will accept fake emotion.

They played "All Time What," then John said they should introduce the next song by talking about "what makes this song so this song-y."

The song was "Why Does the Sun Shine?", once again with JF singing and JL talking. The heat and light of the sun were caused by the nuclear reaction between "things made out of stuff, microscopic dust, the feelings that separate us, and death." (The last couple made it a very Linnellian list.) There was also some adorable spazziness from him.

After that Flans said half the show would be different than the night before and the other half would be "mind-numbingly the same." He said we'd see that the banter we thought was improvised wasn't (he was joking, but I did see them recycle some banter on this tour, to my slight disillusionment). Then John said that they wouldn't be playing the songs we came back for, and Flans said they were all about "delivering disappointment" and were like General Tso's chicken.

Then Flans said he'd just gotten Netflix and so has been watching a lot of Netflix, including a documentary he'd just watched about the czars. He said that also today "I went to a restaurant where everything was fried, because who wants to live forever?" and that he was "just living my vampire life." Then he said, "We have a day off in Eugene, because who would want a day off in San Francisco? And you wonder why we're bitter." Then he asked John, "How are your problems?" "My problems are awesome."

Next they played "Mammal," which was quite exciting, and then came the next episode in the continuing saga of "Will John Linnell ever manage to successfully sing 'Mrs. Bluebeard' without screwing up the lyrics somehow?" This time he managed to get very close to the end smoothly, and I was trying to somehow send him some sort of mental encouragement ("Almost there! I believe in you!"), but then he messed up the very end, siiiiigh. At this point I pretty much gave up and resigned myself to the fact that he was never going to manage to get it right.

Next they played "She's Actual Size." I've seen this song a ton, but outside of a couple of Apollo 18 shows in the past few years it's almost all been contained within the confines of the very very first shows I went to on the Mink Car tour, back when it featured the epic Dial-A-Drum-Solo bit with Dan Hickey, which made this another surprise. It is a good song both on the album and live, but I've never been a fan of part of the arrangement they've used all the times I've seen it, where towards the end it gets way slowed down and Flans is singing in falsetto and all that (I'm fine with his falsetto at other times, it just bugs me in this one specific instance). But up until that point seeing it was fun.

Next was "The Statue Got Me High," to my great disappointment on keyboard again, but this time I managed to push myself past that disappointment and still really dig the performance, which was good because it's very close to the top in my list of all-time most-beloved songs and I do want to actually be able to enjoy it.

After that John got his accordion on ("Oh now you do," I couldn't help thinking). He introduced the next song as being "one of our tired old songs." When they started playing I saw that was an assessment I most definitely would not agree with, as the song was another one of my all-time favs (it was in fact my favorite song way back when I started getting more deeply into TMBG when I was in high school): "Turn Around"! So I was thrilled about that, of course!

Next they played "When the Lights Come On," which remains my favorite of the new songs they've actually been doing live to see. Afterwards, Flans said that it was from their new album I Like Fun, "available on Bar/None records and tapes." Then he said they really do have it available on vinyl, and that the vinyl was made in the Czech Republic, which is where they make the good stuff. John said if you want "the flat ones that actually play" you have to go there. Then Flans said that records look like calendars, and then was joking about someone in the audience who made a noise like they thought that was "a cruel burn."

Next they played "The Mesopotamians." I'd actually managed to enjoy it the night before after feeling burned out on it for some time, but this time I felt sick of it again.

Afterwards, Flans pointed out that the Oscars were currently happening (I actually didn't know that until he said it--I don't pay much attention to that sort of thing), and that we were all "out of the loop about something that's going to be appalling everyone." Then he was talking about when they announced the wrong winner for Best Picture last year--"What a shitshow. That was the ultimate 'you had one job.'"

They played "This Microphone," and then another surprise that I was really excited to see: "Cyclops Rock"! That's one of my favs on Mink Car and it's totally kickass live (I am an eternal sucker for really high-energy rockin' Flansongs live), and it had popped up a couple of times at other shows I'd been to recently, but not much, so yeh it was a lot of fun.

Next they talked about how Dial-A-Song is back. Flans said some of the songs have had "startling" videos that have gotten Youtube comments just saying something like "Fuck." John said, "That's the response we've been hoping for for 35 years." Then he said his favorite comment they've received is "What sorcery is this?" He asked Flans if he objected to the "Fuck" cos it needed a parental advisory (this amused me cos Flans swears like crazy), and Flans said not at all.

Then they returned to the previous night's discussion of this Tony Robbins guy. Flans said, "He's not an evangelist cos he doesn't have a soul," and told us again that he'd just watched a "fake documentary" about him. John said their conversation wasn't accurately conveying how "completely crazy" he is. Flans said that he "uses disruptive language to break down barriers of communication," which basically means saying "fuck" to "someone who looks related to my great-aunt." John said that was disruptive, and Flans agreed that it was "like being slapped in the face is disruptive." Then John said that if they tried they could be "the Tony Robbins of rock bands."

They closed out the first set the same way they did the night before: "Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal" straight into "Birdhouse in Your Soul," which is seriously SO MUCH ROCKIN' OUT AT ONCE, it's almost too much.

The second set started with the Quiet Storm contra-alto clarinet version of "Older" like usual. Then Flans made Marty play part of some Phil Collins song again (or maybe it was a Genesis song and not him solo, I don't even know, I hate Phil Collins and did not recognize it).

They played "I Like Fun," and then Curt got out his euphonium. Flans said the euphonium is what they give you in band when you're too small to play the tuba, and John said euphonium isn't the real name of the instrument, it's a euphemism (a joke that made the word nerd in me happy).

So next they played "Shoehorn with Teeth," which is always a ton of fun live, and I really loved it on accordion (what, as opposed to all the songs I don't love on accordion?). Marty was playing some big bell, and Flans was trying to figure out what it was. Then, he said it wasn't what he thought it was, and he was just confused cos he was getting high from the pot people were smoking. John said it was particularly stinky pot (I'm reasonably bothered by the smell of pot just as a general rule, but I can confirm that whatever people were smoking here seemed to smell even worse than usual), and Flans said it's what they say is "the good stuff" on cop shows. Then John said something about a character played by Tony Roberts in Serpico, who's supposed to be the cool cop but isn't really. Then they were saying that their cultural references are going to be very specific now--they're only going to talk about him, Tony Robbins, Tom Robbins, and Tom Robinson.

Next they played "A Self Called Nowhere," and I know I'm writing some variation of "it was so incredibly special for me" in every single one of these reviews, but that's because it's always true. I know the first time is always going to be the most special time, just because it was the first and I'd been wanting this so intensely for such a long time, but something really great about the times I've seen it since the first couple is they've included Curt on trumpet (since he wasn't with them for the early part of the tour), and I always think he adds so much to the songs he appears on.

Next they played "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?" I saw that one on accordion a ton when they were doing it duo a lot on I think it was the Join Us tour, and it was great that way--I preferred it duo just cos my heart is now and forever all about duo stuff, but this arrangement was fantastic too.

Next they played "Istanbul," the duo version with them being really silly. During the part where Flans is saying "Take me back, please take me back," in falsetto and John's saying "Nooooo" in a really deep voice, John said "Even Tony Robbins says no" one of the times. Like the other times I've seen them do it duo on this tour, the full band came back for the crazy jam session at the end.

They played "Particle Man," then did another awesome big surprise song: "Dig My Grave"--GOD is that song fun live. (It's only just now occurring to me how many of the songs that I was happily surprised by during this run of shows are from Apollo 18, and having the thought that they would've needed to rehearse them for the Apollo 18 show they'd done the previous month, so that's probably why they were sprinklig them into the set here and there.) There were strobes during it, and afterwards Flans said they should've mentioned that there were strobes, but they'd forgotten, and John said that after there were strobes they couldn't remember anything (they'd had roughly the same exchange at the aforementioned Apollo 18 show). Flans said it was like how the kick drum gives you a heart attack, and then recessitates you, and John said Marty always has to play the kick drum an even number of times or they'll die. Flans said "Clear!" (all dramatically like they do on medical TV shows), and then said he doesn't even understand why they say that, and John said "I think that's a Scientology thing." Then Flans said maybe it's just a blessing.

They played "Wicked Little Critta" (as usual the best part about the song for me was watching the closeups of John's hands on his Kaoss Pad and keyboard that were being projected on the screen on the back of the stage--that's about the only time I actually like the screen being there, normally I just find it unpleasantly distracting), and then another big surprise song: the title track from that album. That stirred up a lot of Feelings for me, as it was the very first song they played at my very first show.

They played "I Left My Body," then Flans said that they'd someday figure out a way to do a three-night stand. He said they'd probably have to become a jam band. John said people didn't seem very enthusiastic, and Flans said they'd be drawing an entirely different crowd. John asked if people were yelling "Gross," but then he figured out that they were yelling about the Black Crowes, and Flans explained (like the day before) that there was a poster in their dressing room from a time they played five nights in a row here at the Fillmore and that the poster was "mocking" them.

Someone was yelling out for "Spider" and Flans said that they'd play it even though they're from New York, where the rule is you're not allowed to play requests. He said he'd gone to a sandwich shop where a woman asked the guy to heat up her sandwich and he said "We believe you'd prefer it cold." They actually did play it, but John looked so unenthusiastic when Flans said they were going to. But I mean he didn't really have much choice, he would've looked like a jerk if he'd refused to after Flans already said they were going to. Anyway it was an interesting version of the song, particularly since he played it on accordion (he just happened to already have it on for the following song).

The next song in question was "Subliminal," my reaction to which can be summed up by the "Oh fuck yes" that popped into my head as soon as they started playing it. As my friend Ant put it "That song is better live than it has any right to be," and it's another classic I've only seen a handful of times. I was disappointed by the lack of fake backwards singing at the end, but otherwise it was perfect.

Next they played "Let Me Tell You About My Operation" (my current fav Flansong and absolutely amazing live, so always a welcome addition to the set!). Then there were band intros and the main set wrapping up with "Doctor Worm."

The first encore started with "Spy." During the improv part (which is really what makes that song live), John was playing a sample I heard him employ at several other shows, but I'm not sure what the source is, it's just a woman singing "Now the night has gone."

Next they played "Fingertips," which I've always really loved live but I'm sorry to say I've been getting into burnout with it just recently due to overexposure. However, this particular performance did feature a notable variation: During "I Walk Along Darkened Corridors," Dan appeared up in the balcony and finished the song there! (He actually might've shown up there earlier than that, I'm not sure, but that was when I noticed him.)

The second encore started with "Ana Ng," so between that and "Everything Right is Wrong Again" the previous night I got both my tattoo songs in San Francisco. And they closed the show with "New York City."

So all in all this was a most excellent show. After my prior frustration on this trip with having no variation in the setlist between the first show and the second, it was really exciting to get so many different and exciting surprises between these two Fillmore shows.

The final and really not very exciting JL wardrobe report: the long-sleeved black shirt made another appearance.