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- The Communists Have The Music
- Damn Good Times
- Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal
- Particle Man
- The Famous Polka
- Birdhouse In Your Soul
- Doctor Worm
- The Guitar
- Why Does The Sun Shine?
- Don't Let's Start
- All Time What
- Mrs. Bluebeard
- Which Describes How You're Feeling
- Quiet Storm:
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
- The Mesopotamians
- Let's Get This Over With
- Your Racist Friend
- Whistling In The Dark
- Let Me Tell You About My Operation
- Ana Ng
- She's An Angel
They Might Be Giants
Imperial in Vancouver, BC
October 16, 2018 at 8:00 PM
Fan Recaps and Comments:
The show was at a venue called the Imperial. It was a nice venue, very classy--kinda reminded me of the Neptune (one of my favorite venues here in Seattle, where TMBG have played the past few times they've been through town). Big white statues ensconced in the walls.
One notable thing about this show was that John was really punchy. He was being way sillier/weirder than usual, which is saying something since silly and weird are a couple of his default settings. I've never seen him like this before. I think it was mostly just jet lag, cos they'd just flown in from New York the night before and I know how early he usually wakes up (meaning he must also go to bed early), then he said something during the second encore that pretty much confirmed it. I think he also might have been a cold and maybe been doped up on cold medicine, cos he said something about having a sore throat, which could have been a joke in context, but then also I saw him coughing (into his sleeve) several times. Anyway, whatever the reason, this loopy version of him was pretty damn entertaining.
While I was waiting for the show to start I was chatting with the guy standing next to me. He was telling me about how he'd actually been at the taping of the famous Tonight Show appearance where they did "Birdhouse in Your Soul." He said he just happened to be going on a tour of the NBC Studio that day, and the tour ended in the show's studio, and a "very cute college girl intern" offered him and his brother tickets for the taping. She told them TMBG was gonna be on and they didn't know them, and she said, "It'll change your life." So that was a neat little bit of TMBG history, since it is one of their most significant TV appearances (even The Johns themselves still sound in awe of playing with Carson's band when they talk about it).
In reviews I've already written for earlier shows on this tour, I kept encountering the problem of figuring out how exactly I could describe the experience of seeing them play my favorite song in a way that adequately conveyed exactly how deeply intense the experience was. Heading into this show, I knew I'd be dealing with the same problem with something quite different in substance but similarly intense to the point of difficulty coming up with the language to properly describe it.
Anyone who's been around me for more than five minutes anywhere TMBG is being discussed will likely know what I'm referring to here. My "John Linnell wearing spex" fetish is extremely well-documented (like, "people I don't even personally know have drawn my attention to times that he is"-level well-documented). The fact that I find him to be the most attractive person on earth at just his baseline level of existence is certainly no secret, but just the addition of this one single unassuming accessory is all by itself capable of sending his level of attractiveness skyrocketing. I have been around him when he's wearing them a handful of times over the course of my fandom, but mostly just at instores, not full-length shows, meaning this was going to be a newly intense experience for me that I really wasn't entirely sure how I would react to. [MORE HERE LATER]
They opened with "The Communists Have the Music." Even though I've been mostly studiously avoiding setlists (my regular practice before I attend shows, because I prefer to be surprised), I did already know that they'd be playing this one and also "Applause Applause Applause," because they'd publicly announced it, I think in one of their email newsletters.
I was really excited about seeing this one--it's the third exclusive-to-Dial-a-Song song from this year that was love at first listen for me, and I've been listening to it a lot since it was released. I could also just tell it was a song that would be really fun live (I'm all about the really high-energy upbeat stuff), and it turned out I was totally right--I had just as much fun seeing it as I'd expected to!
Next was "Damn Good Times"--Flans was talking during the intro again. He said that they're the most disoriented band in the world right now, and they're ready to wake up. After they played the song, he said that when Danny had come up next to him while they were playing he didn't know who it was, and thought that just some random guy had come on stage and started playing with them.
Then John was saying that there was a narrow pathway right in front of the stage, and you needed reservations to be there, or maybe they should just have a traffic cop, and the traffic cop should be Danny.
Then Flans did a variation on his ongoing bit about how they were acting as their own opening band and so we should treat them like any other opening band, which this time meant not applauding, standing silently with our arms crossed, and occasionally shaking our heads.
Then something that became a running joke for the entirety of the show started. Flans said that we could boo them and there can be "a tremendous amount of energy in a hearty boo," and then this happened:
JF: We're like Fred Durst if he were good. Twitter feud!
SOME GUY IN THE AUDIENCE: Fred Durst knows he sucks!
JF: In that case I would like to retract that statement. I think it's time we give Fred Durst another chance.
JL: I think Fred Durst killed those people.
JF: It is too early in the show to be doing this deep dive.
JL: No, that's where you're mistaken.
Then Flans said he wants everyone to take lots of pictures, and that flash is good because it makes him look thinner. Then he told a story about some video of Limp Bizkit opening for Metallica, and Fred Durst challenges the entire audience to a fight, but in the middle of it a soundman walks by and just pushes the microphone out of his hand. "That's how I get to sleep at night."
Then they played "Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal," and I swear, after seeing this song so many times this year with Curt I will never be able to go back to seeing it without him without some level of disappointment. It's definitely my fav of the songs they've been doing with him on this tour--as in, there are other songs that I like the actual song itself more, but this is the one that I feel like Curt's contribution has made the biggest difference in quality. It's so amazing with him.
After "Particle Man" they did "The Famous Polka," and Flans did the thing with letting someone in the audience play his guitar, and I didn't find out until the next day the person in question was my good buddy Ant--wow! I was really happy and excited for him. He said it was "one of the craziest experiences of my life" and "I think I actually did pretty well considering how terrified I was." Very very cool.
Afterwards, Flans was apologizing to John for "fucking my part up" (I'm not sure what he was referring to). Then he went off on some weird thing referencing another person I don't really know, some guy named Joe Bonamassa. Then he said something about how many cultural references they'd managed to pack into the first 15 minutes of the show, and John said even he hadn't gotten that one. Flans said he's a musician and that they have him on PBS when they're "trying to get money from old guys," then he spent a minute giving John a meaningful look, like he expected him to somehow reply to the "old guys" thing, but surprisingly enough, because he normally never misses an opportunity to make some sort of self-depricating joke about how he's OMG so ancient, he didn't.
Then Flans asked John what he'd done that day, and John said he'd been wandering around town and he found the "espresso boutique" and bought coffee for everyone in the band. Flans was saying how nice that was and made us all give him a round of applause, but then he said "I used the band card." Flans said it was ok cos he'd used it to pay for room service, but then he said that he was just kidding, that really he hadn't paid at all.
Then they started talking about coffee shops in New York, and how they don't understand how they make any money. Flans mentioned some particular one that's always empty and is in "the fancy part of town," and something about the possibility of someone coming in and giving them tons of money.
Then John asked if we were "enjoying these raps" and said that they were "tailoring it to the Vancouver audience" with the inclusion of espresso, "whatever his name is" (meaning Joe Bonamassa), and Fred Durst.
Then Flans said that not enough people were taking pictures, and how in America they're used to performing for just a wall of people holding up their phones. I guess some people must've held up cameras, cos John said that using a real camera "doesn't count" and the authentic experience is just using your phone (ohhh, how I wished I could show him the Argus C3, one of the cameras he wrote about in his blog, that I had with me!). Then Flans said that people using iPads would also be good, and that there are jumbo ones that classical musicians use for sheet music and they call them Maxi-Pads. People were kinda groany, and John said "They Might Be Giants will be out soon."
So then they did two absolute show-stoppers back-to-back--"Birdhouse in Your Soul" followed by "Doctor Worm." Everyone loves both those songs live so much, and with good reason--they're both superfun (so much so that I always still really enjoy them even though I've seen them both at pretty much every show I've ever been to), and Curt makes them both even better. Afterwards, John said that Curt playing with them (with all his virtuosity) was "hurting our feelings."
Next they played "The Guitar." In addition to how amazing this song always is, this time there was the added bonus of John being particularly adorably silly--at one point he did this really cute little "Roar!" (as in actually saying the word "roar," not attempting to actually replicate the sound of a lion's roar), and I've often seen him wave during the "the lion waves goodbye" part, which is already really cute, but this time in addition to that he said "Goodbye!" and it was CUTE. Also Flans did the "And you don't stop" thing, which is always my fav.
Next was "Why Does the Sun Shine?," which was the point in the show at which the aforementioned JL weirdness was really at its peak, although I actually saw him doing a similar routine with it at other shows later on, which makes me not sure how much I can attribute it to how loopy he seemed this night in particular. But also it's possible that he did make it up this time while under the effects of lack of sleep/possible heavy-duty cold medicine and then just saw how people were responding to it and decided to keep doing it, which I couldn't really blame him for, since his attempts at being funny on stage often fall flat and so it's understandable that when he finds something that works he'd want to stick with it.
So this is another "I'm not quite sure how to describe this in a way that accurately conveys it" thing, but here's my attempt: The basic way to describe it is that it involved him using a really silly voice and doing tons of really long, inexplicable pauses. But just saying that doesn't capture how funny it was, but it really was the funniest goddamn thing.
So as far as the stuff he actually said: "Everything on the sun is a gas, including aluminum...did I already say aluminum?...and trombone." The sun looks so small because it's about "93 miles away." In the middle of explaining that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine, he took a really long pause to drink coffee. And the heat and light of the sun are caused by the nuclear reaction between "Spandau Ballet, [I could not make out what he said here but presumably it was another '80s band], and Depeche Mode."
After that Flans said something that I did not understand: "We do a lot of kidding around, but this is serious: Fuck those guys." Flans being Flans, I'm assuming he was talking about Trump and his cronies, but it was just weird that he said it out of nowhere with no explanation or context like that.
Next they played "Don't Let's Start," which was of course most excellent. I'm so happy they've had that one as part of the regular set lately, because it's such a classic and I really had not gotten to see it much prior to this tour.
After that Flans did a variation of the whole spiel he was doing on the spring tour about how they were going to be playing new songs and we should pretend we actually like them. This time he started off by saying that "these modern times are different--when you say 'new songs' audiences recoil in fear," and then that they were going to be doing a "cosplay edition" (not really sure how that made sense in context) of the show that was going to "turn around everyone's headspace." He said they were going to play two new songs and we needed to show "fake emotion" about how enthusiastic we were. Then he said he was going to talk in a different voice, and started doing this silly exaggerated Arena Rocker voice. "It's great to be here at the Enormodome!" And then he was pointing at different sections of the crowd and getting us to cheer and talking about which of the "people I'm manipulating" were more excited.
They played "All Time What," and then this happened:
JF: I don't play guitar on this next song, do I?
JL: You do. Masterfully.
JF: In that case I'm going to need you to talk to the audience for a minute.
So he decided that "talking to the audience" meant "being really silly" again, and started talking in this silly, harsh, semi-yelly sort of voice. "I talk like this now1 My kids don't recognize me! They're like 'What happened to our daddy?'" Then he said the thing about having a sore throat that was part of why I was wondering if he had a cold.
JF: [doing a similar voice] Everyone talks like this, John! Why did you kill Santa Claus? Is it because you're so mean?
JL: Mama Durst and I had to make some changes. We had to put Santa in the garage.
Then he went back to his normal voice and said it's a good thing nothing like Youtube has been invented yet, cos that would be "really incriminating."
So then they played "Mrs. Bluebeard" and yet again for the final chorus John repeated the second chorus rather than repeating the first chorus. When I keep talking about how he keeps messing up the lyrics every time I see it, there have been other times when he has really seriously mangled it (like completely smushing two different verses together or, most glaringly, singing something that was not even words), but also he's done this exact thing a number of times and, while it's still technically incorrect if we're taking the album version as the standard of comparison, he's done it so many times that I suppose at this point I need to just take it as a canon live variation like the changes he habitually makes to the lyrics of other songs. Still not reallysure if it's a conscious decision on his part or if he's just mixed up about how the song actually goes, but either way, he seems to be set on doing it so I guess I just need to accept it.
Afterwards, John said they were going to play a few more songs and then take a break and "lie gasping on the floor." Then, Flans started talking about how pot was going to be legal nationwide in Canada starting the following day, then said that this meant they'd be losing their entire crew if anyone wanted to volunteer. (Ohhh, how I wish he'd been serious!) Then he shared this helpful piece of advice: "Remember that edibles have markings. There is a dose. It's not just 'eat till you're full.' You don't want to fall out of bed again." Then he said that Curt is from "the nation of Connecticut, where they are both better rehearsed and more virtuostic."
So then they played "Which Describes How You're Feeling," which was the first big surprise of the show for me. I do remember looking at a setlist from some show or other on the spring leg of the tour after the last one I went to and seeing that they'd played it and being really surprised/envious cos I have I think only seen it at the couple of Apollo 18 shows I've been to, but then I forgot all about it, so yeh it was definitely a big exciting surprise!This is exactly why I try to avoid looking at setlists if I have shows of my own coming up--so I can be pleasantly surprised by awesome stuff like this. John was supercute during the song too, doing a lot of gesturing and pointing. Love hiiiiiiiim. Also, after the song was over (if you're ging by the way it is on the record) he spent a minute playing this extra little keyboard part. I'm not sure what was up with that--I don't remember him doing it the other times I've seen the song--so I think it might have just been another thing he was doing cos he was in such a weird mood. I seem to remember him doing it on some other song too, but I don't remember what it was and there isn't anything in my notes.
They closed the first set with "Spy." During the improv part, John was making use of weird random samples again, but different ones than when I saw them earlier in the year--during the part where he was conducting he was using one that was seriously just people screaming which uh ok John, and then when Flans was conducting he was using this cool one that the only way I can think of to describe it is it sounded like something from a '50s sci-fi movie--like, the Martians leave their flying saucer and this is the sound they make. An eerie, ethereal sound, something like a theremin or mellotron, though I'm not sure if it was actually either of those.
When they came back for the second set, John said, "Welcome back. I'm speaking as if you're the ones who went away, because that's how I perceive it."
The first Quiet Storm song they played was "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?" Flans introduced it with the topical, appropriate, and depressing line "This song is a special long-distance dedication to everyone not currently running for the Supreme Court in America."
After that John got out the contra-alto clarinet. Flans said it was from "the oversized paperclip section of Staples," and John said that was "some Staples humor" they like to include in the show. Then Flans said something about how exciting it was "to be in a foreign country but still feel disoriented."
Then they played "I Like Fun." Afterwards Flans said that this crowd must have a higher than average ratio of people who know what parkour is, because the line mentioning it doesn't usually get such an excited reaction. He was either lying or totally misremembering though--I've seen this song 11 times now, and there's always a big cheer after the "at the age of 58" line (so not directly after the parkour one, but right after it, and that's where it was this time too). At the spring shows, before his birthday, I would allow myself to indulge in a bit of smug superiority when people were cheering at that part, cos i was guessing that probably at least a good-sized portion of the people cheering didn't know that he was in fact still 57.
Afterwards, Flans was talking about releasing a new song weekly this year via Dial-A-Song. He described it as one of the most misguided things they've ever done, which was amusing cos he was saying similar things at shows when they did it in 2015, so if it were true then it would raise the question of why they didn't learn their lesson and instead opted to do it again this year.Then he said that the next song had been released last month, so if we have "warm feelings about September" it should bring back good memories.
The song was "Applause Applause Applause," the other of the really new songs I'd known they'd be playing before the show. I was wondering though what instrument he would be playing--on the recording it's a tenor sax, but since he seems to mostly like to just travel with one woodwind at a time, I thought he might do it on the contra-alto clarinet (like how on previous tours he would do sax songs on the bass clarinet).
But to my surprise he didn't play anything at all--he just sang. And of course normally songs where he's just singing and not playing he ends up doing all the wild who-the-fuck-even-knows-what stuff with his arms (which is why I always like seeing him do those songs, because I think that stuff is supercute). This time, though, he barely moved at all--he just stood there with his hands clasped in front of him, seeming uncharacteristically subdued. And that was just so unusual (I think the first time I've ever witnessed such a thing) that it was hard not to interpret it as an indication that he was really feeling the sadness contained within the song's lyrics--but I know that identifying him the real person too closely with the narrators of his songs is a dangerous thing.
Flans introduced the next song by saying it featured some serious fast-talking. I knew from the one and only setlist I'd looked at from last month's European tour that they'd done "Letterbox" in the Quiet Storm section at least that one time, and I was so hopeful that the next song would in fact be that one after that introduction (as I've seen them introduce the song by commenting on the vocal speed on previous occasions), and it was!!! That was definitely a big show highlight for me--that's one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs, and, while I've seen it live quite a few times, this was the first time I'd ever seen it on accordion. It was fantastic. One of those moments when I just really wish that he played everything on accordion, like in the duo days.
So that was the end of Quiet Storm. "Letterbox" was definitely a treat, but I still couldn't help being a bit disappointed aboubt not getting to see my song. I know I've already gotten to see it nine times this year, and maybe I'm just being greedy at this point, but it's just that it's so special to me and who knows if or when I'll ever get a chance to see it again after this tour is over.
After the requisite "Istanbul," Flans was saying that after Curt played they had to "pick things up off the floor," and that they had to "take out extra roof insurance" since he joined the band.
Then he started talking about how the next song is from The Else, which he described as one of their "difficult middle albums." John said that's also what their next album will be. There's some article from a few years ago with a similar exchange--the reporter was writing about being at a show and Flans described some album or other (I don't remember what album now, but it was definitely earlier than The Else, Factory Showroom or something around there maybe? [CHECK ON SITE?]) as being from "the middle of our career," and John said "I think we're in the middle of our career now." I actually really appreciate hearing him say things like that, cos it makes it sound like they're never ever going to break up/retire which is just what I want to believe.
Then Flans told the same story he told in Seattle about how he was doing an interview to promote The Else (he said that interviews consist of "making shit up as fast as you can") and the interviewer was going on about how the album has such a strong opening track, and he didn't know how to tell him that iTunes had made the album playlist backwards. The first time I heard him tell this story I got all excited cos I thought they were going to be playing the actual first track, which is one of my fav songs on the album and one I've never seen live, but this time since I'd already heard the story I didn't get my hopes up, I already immediately knew it was just gonna be "The Mesopotamians" for the millionth time. I feel bad for not enjoying that song anymore, cos it is a great song, and I used to enjoy it quite a bit, but I've just seen it waaaaaaaay too m any times at this point.
So then they played "Twisting" (GREAT, of course), and then people were yelling requests and Flans said they're from New York and so that means they don't take requests. And then one of them (I think it was John but can't remember for sure) said "Except for Chicken Parm," which was this mysterious shirt Dan was wearing. Then Flans said they can't do requests cos they can't change their "computerized light show."
Then he was saying that this tour was their first full tour of Canada "and we are coming to understand why." He said they were overwhelmed by the "distances of nothing" they were having to get through in between the shows. He said they'd be playing in Edmonton in two days. "Why are we playing in Edmonton in two days? Because we can't get there in one day!" which caused John to do some of his trademark fact-checking--he said the next show is actually in Calgary, but they are playing in Edmonton after that. Then Flans said the show in Edmonton has actually already started, and there's a Facebook Live event of it going on right now.
So then came what was hands down the thing I had been most looking forward to with these shows (well the actual music-related thing I'd been most looking forward to, that is, in addition to the addition of a certain accessory to a certain person's on-stage wardrobe which I've already detailed at length). I mean really really really looking forward to--like, there have been few things at shows where I've been eagerly anticipating something I knew for sure would happen as much as this. I'm talking, of course, about the performance of "Let's Get This Over With." When I Like Fun came out at the beginning of the year it was immediately love at first listen for me with the song, and very quickly became really hung up on it--it became my Song of the Year, if you will.
I was also immediately able to tell that it was a song that would be absolutely killer live. And I really expected them to start playing it right away at the beginning of the tour since it seemed obvious how great it would be live, and was surprised and disappointed when they didn't. And then there was this whole additional maddening thing where Flans posted a video of them soundchecking it at one of the San Francisco shows I attended in the spring, so I expected them to finally start playing it then and was unbelievably excited and then crushingly disappointed when they didn't, nor did they at the three Pacific Northwest shows I went to after that, but then of course played it almost immediately after the last of those shows (the last ones I was going to on that leg). So basically leading up to this show I'd spent roughly half a year being incredibly bitter about the fact that here was this song I really really adored and really really desperately wanted to see live but I'd only just narrowly missed my opportunity to.
So that was a whole lot of buildup to be bringing in to finally getting a chance to see the song live at this show--was it as wonderful as I'd imagined it being? Did it live up to my incredibly high expectations? YES. YES IT DID. It was so so SO good finally seeing it for the first time, definitely an all-time show highlight for me. I have this thing I do when I'm singing along with songs I particularly love where I bop my head around a ton, and on this one I was bopping around so much that the hat I was wearing was just on the brink of falling off and I had to take a moment to pull it way down firmly on my head so it wouldn't. I feel like that should be some sort of slang expression--that TMBG shows are so good they'll knock your hat off.
Anyway yeh, it was amaaaaaaazing. John playing accordion on it of course made it a million times better (I just wish he played it on the album version, but I will take what I can get), and it's just so bright and bouncy and fun, which is why I could tell immediately how good it would be live, cos songs like that always are. And then there's just the fact that I'd been so hung up on it and eager to see it for all this time, which I'm sure made it particularly fantastic for me. It was really just such a special moment to finally see it, and there's no possible thing that could've been different to make it any better.
After "Your Racist Friend," John was putting his accordion on again, and Flans was apologizing to him for how much he'd made him take it off and put it on at this show (since usually he writes the setlists with several accordion songs in a row so he won't have to do that). He said something about how the accordion is a nice instrument to wear but not so nice to repeatedly take off and put on, and so then of course John, who will never pass up an opportunity to bitch about his back, had to reply with "It's fun to take off, actually. 'I feel so strong! My spinal column!'" He also did this little arm-flex thing which I'm sure he was just doing to be silly but that did not stop me from quite enjoying it.
So then they played "Whistling in the Dark." This isn't one of my top songs on Flood or anything--I mean, it's pretty good, I just don't loooooooove it. That being said, it is really fun live, especially with the addition of Curt's trumpet.
Then they did "Let Me Tell You About My Operation." I had the usual reaction of a) totally rocking out and b) becoming a Flansgirl for three minutes cos GOD, FUCKING STAGE PRESENCE. How is he so damn cool? I don't even understand.
Next they played "Ana Ng," which was as always a very emotional experience for me because it's a song that I have a deep connection with and also is one of the ones I have lyrics tattooed from. Afterwards, Flans said something about how the song has so many fake endings that people can never tell when they're finished, and that when they played it in Amsterdam people were still waiting for them to finish it when they were, in fact, finished. He said they continued it in Rotterdam, and would still be doing it when they were in Edmonton. It was amusing, but I'm not really sure what he was talking about--in my experience it's the two fake-out endings in the arrangement of "Istanbul" they're currently doing that really confuses people.
Next they did "She's an Angel," which I was really excited about--I've seen that song a ton, but mostly a long time ago, and not at all previously on this tour, so yeh it was a big and wonderful surprise. It's so beautiful and powerful live--one of those songs that practically gives me goosebumps.
After that, Flans requested that the house lights be turned on so they could determine the "beards-to-glasses ratio." He said that the glasses looked to be ahead, as opposed to when they'd been in Germany, where beards had the edge.
Then he started talking about how good we looked cos of Canada's socialized medicine (I was wondering how many other people in the crowed were actually not Canadian). Then he said they'd enjoyed being in the UK cos he'd been able to discuss the "mutual dystopian reality" that both that country and America are currently living in, but that visiting Canada was like getting to spend time with "your reasonable relatives" and that you knew it was the kind of place where there would always be vegan options available. Then he was joking that the backing band had been recruited by the club that very day and all they'd been able to have with them was one rehearsal but they were already doing so well. Then he was saying something about his earpiece and listening to his own inner monologue, and John said the only thing he could hear in his was the voice of Al Gore.
They closed the main set with "Fingertips," which I do still enjoy in spots but sadly am overall pretty burned out on live at this point after just seeing it a million times.
When they came back for the first encore, John was thanking us, and then he said, "If only there were other words for 'thank you.'" People were I guess yelling at him that there are (it was one of those times when I could hear people yelling but was unable to make out what they were actually saying), as if it weren't obvious that he was just kidding around, and he said, "I know there are. It is so far past my bedtime." So that was the comment that I took as proof of my theory that he was extremely sleep-deprived from the travel and that was why he was being so much sillier/weirder than usual. And I mean seeing him be that way was extremely entertaining, I'm definitely not objecting to it, but also awwwwwwwww poor sleepy baby. Then he said that the experience was just "an advance in the legalization of hallucinogens, which I'm sure is coming."
Then he said how much they love Vancouver, and that they usually say that when they play somewhere, but that certain members of the band (he did not specify who) have actually said they'd be interested in moving here. Then Flans said that as a New Yorker sometimes you visit another place and are wondering what the fuck is going on there, but then you have to return to New York, where everything is "a burning husk."
In the break before the encore I was wondering what they were going to play for it, since a lot of the usual encore suspects were already played earlier in the set. The only two possibilities I could think of were "The End of the Tour" (which I knew they'd been playing some lately from teh sole setlist from the European tour I'd looked at) and "No One Knows My Plan" (which I hadn't heard anything about them doing since spring and so didn't know if it was really that likely, but it's just that after having gotten to conga during it several times now and having doing so be about the most fun experience ever in my life, I'm always holding out hope for it).
When they returned Flans said they needed total silence for the next song, and then added that he meant on stage. And then sure enough they launched into one of my guesses, "The End of the Tour." That song is so good live, especially as an encore. I've seen it not as part of the encore at all at least once and it was actually pretty disconcerting, and I've also seen them do it as the actual final song of the night, but this I think is the perfect placement, where it's still close to the end of the show but then they can make the real closing song a really high-energy upbeat one, which is my ideal.
After that Flans did band intros--he admitted he'd been kidding about having just met them that day.
After that came what was the biggest surprise of the night for me: "They Might Be Giants," damn. I don't think I've ever seen that song outside of a Flood show, and I hadn't heard anything about them playing it on the tour previously, so I was very much not expecting it. I guess I'd put the song in the same category as "Whistling in the Dark"--not one of my absolute top songs on the album, but still solid and definitely a lot of fun live. Most of all I just get really excited when I can get surprised by deep cuts like that, which is why I mostly avoid looking at setlists before I go to a show.
There was another encore break after that. When they came back, Flans said that the next song was written by a band from Vancouver called Cub, and that they'd opened for them (which I think I actually didn't know and was cool), but he was making it sound like they discovered the song when they were opening for them, which is not true. Anyway, I felt dumb for not thinking of that song when I was mentally running down encore possibilities--they often play it as an encore and anyway, and yes it seemed like they would obviously have to play it here, with the local connection. I felt particularly dumb cos I'd just been thinking about how it would likely happen earlier in the day, but I guess I just forgot with all the show excitement and intensity. Anyway, it was fun to see it there--I don't really know how popular Cub is in Canada these days, so I don't know how much the other people in the crowd actually cared, but I really love them and so was excited to be seeing the song on their home turf.
After that Flans said that they wanted to apologize for what a hard time they'd been giving Robert Durst during the show, and that they're "sure he's actually a really cool guy."
They closed the show with "Dead," which is decidedly not in the category of really upbeat high-energy songs that I said are my favorites as show closers, and yes it is actually an intensely sad song if you think about it too hard, but the thing is it doesn't feel sad, it just feels funny, and also is one of my all-time favorite songs of his, so I will grant it an exception as being an acceptable closer even though it's outside my usual preferred category.
Final thoughts: it was just generally a really fantastic show. I was admittedly sad that they'd dropped the two songs I'd most enjoyed on the spring tour, my theme song of course and also "When the Lights Come On," which prior to finally seeing "Let's Get This Over With" had been the I Like Fun song I'd most enjoyed live. But the two new ones I'd been so looking forward to seeing ("Let's Get This Over With" and "The Communists Have the Music") were both so fucking amazing. There was also a lot of other great stuff in the set, including some of my fav Flans rockers and that handful of total surprises. Also seeing John be so damn silly from sleep deprivation and whatever else was extremely entertaining and endearing. I got a drumstick from Marty post-show, which was first for me and was very cool. And, the ever-important (to me anyway) report on what John was wearing: black long-sleeved shirt and black jeans.