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Fan Recaps and Comments:


The San Diego show tonight was one of the funnest nights of my life, if not the funnest. I finally got to see my favorite band and I adored every second of it.

Waiting in line alone was worth the price of admission. I arrived there early to hang out with the die-hard folks in the front. An hour and forty minutes breezed by as we eagerly discussed nerdy topics of all sorts (for example, our favorite Weird Al albums, and Bryan Fuller TV shows). I made instant friends with several people who shared many interests with me. It was so magical to find those connections, especially as someone who’s introverted and doesn’t always open up in conversations. Shout out to this one middle-age man who asked me very intelligent questions about my music taste, and how I interpret certain TMBG songs. It felt like a family. (Side note: an odd snafu occurred wherein my phone completely freezed up when I tried to take my ticket out. All the friendly folks in line tried to help me figure out how to fix it, but were unsuccessful. Thankfully, I got a physical ticket printed out at will call! Whew!)

But that was only the beginning of the magic. The doors opened at 7, and I practically floated with glee across the venue lawn (well, after grabbing a paper crown and Flood socks from the merch stand). I felt as if I had been hit by lightning—suddenly, I was sharing the same physical space as my musical heroes. My lovely friends from the line helped me get a spot in front (“you’ve gotta be in front for your first TMBG concert!”) and my jaw dropped as I found myself standing five feet away from Linnell’s Main Squeeze accordion.

The last hour before the show flew by as other fans flooded in next to me…including a dad with a middle school-age son. The kid and I were instantly on the same emotional wavelength…he exclaimed to me that John Linnell is his biggest hero and that seeing him in real life is everything he could ever want. We swapped TMBG opinions for a good while. I also chatted with the many hardcore fans around me, feeling so gratified at the opportunity to chatter about TMBG obscurities and them know exactly what I was talking about.

And then the lights went up. And I enjoyed the most amazing three hours I have ever seen take place on a stage. Of course, the kid next to me melted with happiness at getting to see his idol Linnell. And I was just mesmerized. Seeing them at such a glorious outdoor venue, with palm trees swaying next to me, was everything I could want. And I was CLOSE. I could make out every detail of the Johns’ faces. And not just the Johns, but the horn section as well.

They killed it. It was a 10/10. They opened with Fingertips and only went uphill from there. A highlight for me was a gloriously rocking live arrangement of Someone Keeps Moving My Chair. Also, Istanbul was the best I’ve ever seen from them, with Dan Miller grinding out an extensive electric guitar intro and Mark Pender playing a Simon Says game where we had to mimic the noises he was making with his trumpet.

The Flood song that surprised me most was Whistling in the Dark. They actually turn the stage lights off and had Linnell and Flansburgh do a guitar/accordion duet. Just seeing them standing next to each other with those instruments absolutely melted my heart.

Also, they did Spy with dramatic conducting from both Johns. Halfway through Linnell impersonated an old timey radio announcer and everybody died laughing. And they pulled out I’ll Sink Manhattan. It sounded so rich and elaborate. I also loved We Want A Rock, where Linnell’s face stretched out every time he hit a nasally note. And Lumberland, which was carried by a groovy Danny bass line. Every arrangement truly rocked the house. Even though I’ve watched many videos and streams of TMBG performing live, seeing it in person is where the music truly touches one’s heart.

Everyone’s stage presence was so dynamic, and everyone was so committed to his instrument. I was thoroughly entertained by every band member. And they were all smiling so much too, including Linnell who seemed so relaxed and in his element…they’re clearly in love with their craft. During the horn solos in Istanbul Flans had such a big smile on his face that I thought he would split in half. He’s such a bundle of joy.

Being right up in the very front allowed me to see all the different interactions between different band members. I saw Flans whispering in Danny’s ear. I saw the horn section waiting on the side to sneak in. It was amazing to just swivel my vision around the stage and see Flans jumping up and down on one side and Marty going nuts on the other side. Everyone was equally giving their best tonight. And let me tell you, the horns really tied everything together. They enhanced the energy of the songs without distracting from the Johns’ duo partnership.

And the banter…oh, the banter had me laughing so hard. They did a bit where they pretended to be smokers from New Jersey and so they talked in really annoying, thick voices. They also discussed a disagreement they had about what songs should come where in the set. Linnell said that a concert should be like a restaurant meal, where they serve you the best wine first so that you’re too drunk to tell when they’re serving you the lower-quality wine. Also, a helicopter flew overhead at one point and Flans said it reminded him of Diana Ross’s Super Bowl show where she just casually flew away in a helicopter the end like that was everyday behavior for her. Also, Flans asked Linnell if he had had a better day today than yesterday, and Linnell said yes because he took a walk. I thought that was sweet.

And oh boy did I jump up and down during Birdhouse. And so did all the people around me, old and young. John and John are true magicians. I have no other explanation for what happened tonight other than that it was magic. The masks of adulthood melted away as concertgoers of all ages unabashedly sang along to all those surreal lyrics.

Oh yeah, and the kid next to me told me his favorite song ever was Dr. Worm, and that he’d literally explode if they played it. Guess what the final encore was…Dr. Worm.

Yeah it was a perfect night. Highlight of my year. There’s nothing like coming face to face with my biggest creative heroes and feeling enriched as a result.

Just the absolute synergy of getting to excitedly scream along to my favorite lyrics, along with the people who also love those lyrics…I was so happy. And to be face-to-face with the Johns thenselves was one of the most euphoric things I’ve experienced in my life. I obviously I don’t know the Johns personally, but they sure did make it feel like a family. There’s something just so earnest them where they can just connect to every single person in the audience.

(Oh and a funny tidbit, while I was walking from my car to the venue, I freezed in my tracks when I saw Flansburgh going into his hotel room! He didn’t see me thankfully, and I kept walking. But yeah I saw Flans. He had his glasses off, as if that would keep him from being recognized a la Clark Kent.)

(Also!! It only rained for a few minutes, in brief bursts of sprinkling. The Johns expressed great gratitude for this, as they had been rained on so hard last night that Linnell’s keyboard filled up with water. It was a miracle that it still worked!)

FloridaFlamingoGirl 14:27, 14 April 2023