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- Gypsy Intro
- Damn Good Times
- I Left My Body
- Your Racist Friend
- Particle Man
- The Famous Polka
- Birdhouse In Your Soul
- The Guitar
- Authenticity Trip
- Let's Get This Over With
- Doctor Worm
- Museum Of Idiots
- All Time What
- When Will You Die
- Quiet Storm:
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
- The Mesopotamians
- Why Does The Sun Shine?
- She's An Angel
- Number Three
- Don't Let's Start
- Whistling In The Dark
- Let Me Tell You About My Operation
- The Communists Have The Music
They Might Be Giants
Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD
October 26, 2018 at 9:00 PM
Fan Recaps and Comments:
They opened with "Damn Good Times." During the part that they always jam on for awhile when they play it live, Flans said it was a section of "indeterminate musical length" where we could "hang out for a second."
After a run of songs when apparently nothing noteworthy enough for me to write it down in my notes happened ("I Left My Body," "Your Racist Friend," "Particle Man," "The Famous Polka"), they went off on this weird, great discussion about the venue itself, starting with its name. John was asking why a club would have such an odd name as "Rams Head Live," and then (of course) getting morbid with it with some talk about it being a severed ram's head that was still alive and haunted, and then reminding us it was almost Halloween.
Then Flans said the design of the venue was "architecturally confounding," and pointed out that there was a whole third tier of people for some reason. Then he told us that the show would consist of two sets, and the doors would be locked and they'd start playing fusion rock and we'd have to pay to be able to leave. Then he said they'd be playing both our favorite songs and songs we don't like (which honestly is true of every show of theirs I've ever been to, though leaning heavily in the direction of the former each time). Then he said that when they'd just been doing shows in Canada there was a woman who yelled "That's my shit!" after songs she liked. Then John said they've played here a million times but each time is special, and how he can remember certain things "like the scar on the back of my hand."
Then there was the extremely energetic pairing of "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "The Guitar." During the latter, at the beginning of the Future of Sound section, John made both of his hands into fists and then punched them against each other (him:) "for some reason. Why are we fighting?" Afterwards, there was talk about it being awesome (which it of course was, that song always is live) and Flans repeated the "That's my shit!" thing from earlier.
Then John was repeating his joke from the day before about AC/DC hiring a crow as their new lead singer, but this time it evolved into a much longer, much weirder thing involving getting a chimp to play a theremin, which was deemed "expensive but worth it," and an entire crow-centric opera.
After that they played "Bangs" and the ever-rockin', ever-awesome "Authenticity Trip."
And then something I've been desperately wanting to happen for YEARS happened. All I have scribbled down in my notebook, in a hand that's even messier than my everyday messiness and the added standard show messiness brought on by trying to write very quickly in low light conditions, is "JOHN TAKING HIS SHIRT OFF FUCK."
So ok, here is the thing. I've been at a handful of shows where he's worn a long-sleeved whirt with a t-shirt on underneath, and at some point during the show he's removed the former to reveal the latter, but it's always happened when he's been out of my sight--usually when he's backstage for the break between sets or before encores, or in one particularly memorable, infuriating case, while he was still on stage right out in the open but I missed it because I was dutifully scribbling down notes at the time.
I've had it pointed out to me that this is a silly thing to want so desperately anyway, because, as I said, he does always have a t-shirt on underneath so it's not like he's actually revealing any skin anyway (well, besides his arms which is not such a big deal since I see him wearing just a t-shirt for the whole show all the time). Which yes is true, but the point for me is that he's still removing clothing, which is probably about the closest I'll ever get.
But for all the times I've thought about this happening, I apparently gravely underestimated exactly how big a deal it would be for me to actually have it happen. I ended up so completely transfixed I ended up feeling frozen in place and unable to even move. And I suppose I should also mention that the t-shirt he had on underneath was blue-and-black-striped and I thought it looked quite good on him, but then, I always think stripey shirts do.
But I somehow managed to keep my mind from completely melting and keeping me from being able to continue taking notes, so I can inform you that after that there was some talk about how they'd be playing some new songs. John said something about how when rock musicians will be really excited doing something like taking a really cool guitar solo they will "make the same face as when something smells horrible." Flans told him that, in fact, sometimes the guitar does smell horrible, and you have to "play the shit out of it."
Then they played "Let's Get This Over With" and I had my usual excited freakout. I was still extra-excited to be seeing it after waiting so long to and only finally getting to for the first time in Vancouver a week and a half before, but I can also tell that it's one of those special songs that no matter how many times I see it live it'll always be really really awesome cos I just love it so much and it's so much fun live. Also y'know ACCORDION on the live arrangement, that's a major plus too.
Then came "Doctor Worm," which is definitely a song that fits in the aforementioned "songs I love no matter how many times I see them" category, and then "Museum of Idiots," which is also always a really big deal for me to see live.
After that, John switched from the accordion to the contra-alto clarinet, and Flans was joking about how it was "stolen from your high school" and so we shouldn't post videos of it on Youtube. (I've seen him make variations of this joke about both the contra-alto and bass clarinets many times, and while they are funny, they do also puzzle me a bit cos, while I can't speak for any other high schools, I can say that I went to a very large school with a very large band and all we ever had were plain old clarinets.) Then they played "All Time What," which remains one of the best live Flansongs from I Like Fun.
After that Flans said the end of the first set was going to be like the Olypic event the skeleton, with them just careening through a bunch of stuff at high speed. It turned out to be a suitable description, because the last couple of songs of the set were indeed full of breakneck-pace energy and fervor: "When Will You Die" followed by "Spy." For the improv section of the latter, John continued his practice of employing strange samples--this time it was people screaming, something that my notes describe as "unidentifiable," breaking glass, and the eerie-but-cool sci-fi-ish one I've seen him use other times.
The second set started with Quiet Storm as per usual. First there was "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" (Flans mixed up the order of the verses), and then as expected, the Johns describing the CRAZY TIME JUMP of a whole four years into the future world of 1844 we would now be embarking on--a strange futuristic world where there was a whole different landscape, different hair-dos, different wigs, everything. There was also some talk about George Soros being involved and how it was all actually a much bigger conspiracy than anyone suspected.
So then of course they played "James K. Polk" (featuring some cute JL spazziness, as that song often does), then "I Like Fun." Then Flans said something about how it was interesting that November 6 (Election Day) and Halloween were so close this year.
They played "Applause Applause Applause" (more cute JL spazziness), "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?," and (switching from Quiet Storm back to the full band at this point) "Istanbul," and then there was more gushing by The Johns about how talented and amazing Curt is, which was a running conversational theme for the entire tour but also is 100% true, so hey.
Next up was "The Mesopotamians," which somehow managed to hold my attention this time even though I'm normally burned out on it live just from overexposure. On the line where John talks about his haircut, he held up a bit of his actual hair, which was very cute.
On the spoken parts of "Why Does the Sun Shine?," he was again off on his whole weird shtick that I'm still not entirely sure how to describe (I think I saw it referred to somewhere as "drunk Nixon," which is as good a description as any, I suppose). This time, the 100% scientifically accurate information he shared with us included the fact that if the sun were hollow a million earths would fit inside, and that those million earths were all trying to bust out but they were too tightly held. Then he went off on this whole weird tangent about how he had no idea who was driving, and doesn't know what happened, but is very sorry, but him saying that he's sorry should not be taken as an admission of guilt. Also, the heat and light of the sun were caused by the nuclear reaction between "Whiplash, Karate Kid, Karate Kid II, and other films."
They played "She's an Angel" next. At one point John was waving, and afterwards he explained that it was because the sound guy had been taking a picture. The string of top-tier classic Pink songs continued with "Number Three" and then "Don't Let's Start," and then more quality to end the set with "Whistling in the Dark," "Let Me Tell You About My Operation," (a quick break for some plugging of the IFC, which apparently includes the use of secret handshakes), and then "The Communists Have the Music."
The first encore consisted of two songs I absolutely adore, which make an interesting pair because they couldn't be farther apart in terms of mood and energy level: "Twisting" and "The End of the Tour." In between, the crew was thanked and the band was introduced, including the encouragement of "fist pumps for Danny" and also Flans telling us that the frame rate of the video (the one projected on the screen at the back of the stage) can't keep up with the speed of Marty on the hi-hat. And the second encore was "New York City" and "Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal"--another stellar ending to another stellar show!