From This Might Be A Wiki

Fan Recaps and Comments:


My third TMBG show! (15 years since my first one!) For my first big show since the pandemic started, I felt lucky that TMBG was playing an outdoor venue near me. Here are my (long and overly detailed) impressions.
Tree House Brewing Company is a recently opened venue, and it has some quirks, like having to park at the Yankee Candle factory down the street and take a brief shuttle bus ride, then walk through the big brewery building to get to the field where the stage is. But apart from some small audio problems, everything went smoothly and the vibes were good.
It had fortunately cooled down slightly from the awful heat earlier in the day (JF: "the soundcheck felt more like a trip to the surface of Mars than I expected"), but it was still very hot and humid. But they brought a great show, especially in the second set. The setlist also had a good spread across their discography, which is what I was hoping for.
"Damn Good Times" – A reliable opener as always. JF: "We're opening for ourselves. In the tradition of opening bands, we'll be sure to be very disrespectful. To ourselves."
"Synopsis for Latecomers" – Marty was good in this one. Afterward, there was an extended amount of banter. The two of them talked about their "Grammy-losing" album BOOK. Then Flansburgh got annoyed about a weird sound onstage, and spent some time trying to figure it out. Linnell thought it might be the fan, and JF said "If it is the fan, it's gonna be on all night." (Because it was, again, very hot and humid out.) JF: "Welcome to our second sound check of the day… We've been in rock music for 40 years, and we're still working some things out."
"Moonbeam Rays" – Having a pretty, lower-energy song so early in the set worked better than I would have expected, maybe because of the heat making everything feel a little lazier. They fixed the sound problem somewhere around here.
"Particle Man" – Great to see JL's accordion up close, and even better to hear the Sun Ra cover in the middle. I really wish I could remember more details, but at some point around here, there was some banter that culminated in JL trying to remember the words to "The Boys Are Back In Town"(?), and instead singing a little improvised snatch of something like it.
Another piece of banter from somewhere around here: JF noted that they often forget their lyrics, and proposed pointing the mic at the audience since they know the lyrics better: "We'll go Rod Stewart on your ass." JL: "That reminds me of a story, but I can't say it on stage. I'll tell you later."
"Doctor Worm" – This is my favorite of their hits, so I had fun. JL achieved a really pretty accordion sound on the part where everyone drops out.
"Underwater Woman" – Pleasantly surprised to hear this one. The opening guitar riff sounded cool. JL, introducing the song, said something to the effect of "This is a song about sadness, is that a hint?" He couldn't remember which album it was from.
"James K. Polk" – JL: "A song about our 11th president, who – can I say the word 'asshole' on stage? No, I can't say it? Okay."
"Wicked Little Critta" – Loved to hear it. Featured the first of many excellent Kaoss Pad solos from JL.
"When Will You Die" – This is far from my favorite TMBG song, but it does work really well live. The horns sounded cool on it.
"The Mesopotamians" – Was moved up presumably, as JF said "I wanna do the last song now". I love this song but don't remember much about this performance in particular.
"Older" – Flans's intro sounded cool I thought. I was wondering if we were going to get a phone call bit, but instead we just got a long pause from JL, which was interesting in its own way.
"Why Does The Sun Shine?" – At the end JL hesitated while delivering the list of elements, then transitioned into an extended bit about Neil Sedaka. The audience was mostly in an amused and bewildered silence as JL listed various Neil Sedaka hits, then revealed that he himself was in fact acclaimed songwriter Neil Sedaka. Each of the usual Sun facts was replaced with a fact about Neil, as in: "The Sun is so large that a million Neil Sedakas could fit inside it. And yet paradoxically, it is a smaller star than me, Neil Sedaka." We learned that the Sun got famous by ripping Neil Sedaka off, writing several Sun-themed songs with names suspiciously similar to Neil Sedaka songs.
I loved this whole bit, but I got the feeling that I was one of the few fans of Neil Sedaka in the audience. So when Neil was listing the hit songs he wrote, and asked the band if they could remember more, I yelled "One Way Ticket". But, maybe because of my mask, I went unheard…. not yelling it louder will be one of the biggest regrets of my life…. According to the wiki, I see that he's done this bit before, so if he does it again please yell about "One Way Ticket" for me…
Anyway, the song sounded great. The energy of the last chorus after Neil finished talking was, uh, stellar.
"Brontosaurus" – JL flubbed several lines in a middle verse, muttered "I fucked it up" (I think) but then got back into it. Other than that, they were right on. This song sounds so good live, especially with the horns.
The Guitar – A song with "great sentimental value to the band", according to Flansy. They fell into a nice groove.
Set 2:
"Number Three" – I had been thinking in the first half that occasionally the Johns were slightly sloppy vocally, and the band (except for Marty) slightly sluggish – maybe worn out by the heat, I thought. But after the break, they were in excellent form and clearly all having a good time. The energy of the crowd really picked up as the sun went down and Flans told us to clap along with "Number Three". The vocal harmony on this one sounded fantastic.
"Man It's So Loud In Here" – The band arrangement of this sounded great, and the band would keep sounding great for the rest of the night. JL was enjoying singing this one, smiling and doing his little hand gestures.
"Don't Let's Start" – JL continued to have fun. He said "No one in the world ever gets what I want"… Unsure if this was a flub or intentional, but either way he gave a wry little smile after saying it.
"Memo to Human Resources" – JF's voice sounded lovely on this one, and the harmony continued to be excellent.
"Whistling in the Dark" – More good harmony. Another possibly-intentional word change: "be like you're like".
"Authenticity Trip" – The recorded version hasn't been one of my favorite TMBG songs, but done live, it really came alive for me with JF's looser, more aggressive delivery and the band laying down a solid groove.
"Spy" – The improv after "Spy" was the absolute highlight of the show for me. It began with JL playing a skipping sample of CSNY's "Our House": "Our house / Is a very very very very very…." As the "very"s continued, they were interrupted and eventually superseded by stabs of sound from everyone, as conducted by JL. In this role JL had great presence and excellent sense of timing. Every member of the band was fully invested in making some intense noise, and as a free jazz fan I found it quite beautiful. When JF took over as "conductor", he added the extra instrument of pointing at the audience to get us to do a sustained yell. After a couple ventures into sparsity (showing off JF's sense of comic/dramatic timing), they brought things to an overwhelming finish. I feel blessed to have witnessed this part.
"Fingertips" – Amazing to see this live! All the changes were tight and exciting. During "I Don't Understand You", JL accompanied his vocal part with the Kaoss pad, which was a really fun effect.
"Ana Ng", "Birdhouse In Your Soul" – Not much in particular to say about these, as I lost myself in dancing around. Fun songs, well played, really good energy in the crowd.
"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" – Dan Levine solo on trombone, Stan Harrison solo on sax (my favorite part, some cool growls), then the song (great fun as always), then an extended outro with a Mark Pender trumpet solo. Pender did a "Minnie the Moocher"-esque call-and-response thing with the mute that the crowd (and Flans) really got into. Then it was done!
At some point before the encore, Flansburgh said, "We know you have your choice of They Might Be Giants-like bands, so we appreciate you coming to see us." This got a huge laugh and cheer, as we all know that there's no band like TMBG.