10:45 AM – I arrive at the venue. Already there are several people waiting on line. A couple of people up front flew in from Iowa. Another person who was there at that time was actually on the crew. I went back to my car and brought my chairs and my cooler for everyone to use, and people were very appreciative of it. All set up, we started to wait.
And wait. We got word early that no jamming was allowed (I had brought a guitar so we could have a singalong online), so my guitar stayed in the car. Some people took off for lunch, but I stayed behind. We did notice that some people had jumped into the unorganized line in front of us, so me and another person started planning on how we were going to tell them that we were there first. The people who jumped up there were very cooperative, and we rearranged the line in the order that people showed up. You got to love TMBG fans, they are always very nice and unselfish.
When everyone was back from lunch about 3 PM, the line was going around the corner. Only about 125 people were on line at this point. Rob and Laura showed everyone their brand new wedding invitations, which were quite nice to see. Mike Levy showed off his newly made TMBG scrapbook. Kaylum and her mom who flew in from Miami took pictures of the whole line hoping to make a montage. Myself, along with Lawrence and Gella were singing various songs, but no TMBG songs. We all knew we’d get plenty of TMBG later.
Finally, at about 5:30 (2 hours behind schedule due to technical problems inside), the TMBG crew starting wrist banding people. When we were wrist banded we went directly back to the end of the line. They wanted everyone checked in first. There was a rule that only so many people (400-500) would be allowed inside, first come-first served. However, everyone who was on line was admitted; no one was shut out at all.
All the while, a reporter from the New Yorker magazine was interviewing various people for an article on TMBG to show up in late September, which still hasn't surfaced because of the events of September 11th taking priority in the magazine.
When the whole line was wrist banded, a film staffer started at the top of the line and started picking random people. I was one of the people who he picked. He directed us to a separate room inside the venue. A sound booth was constructed, and he gave us our instructions. After each person signed a waiver, each person got 30 seconds in front of the camera to say what we wanted about TMBG, anything at all. After each one of us picked the color we wanted in the background (Red, blue, or green), the 30 seconds began. I couldn’t tell you what everyone said since they brought us in 5 at a time. If you want to know what I said, E-mail me.
While all the people waiting to be interviewed stood in the holding area, another piece of paper went circling around. People were instructed to put the cover song they wanted to hear TMBG play that night. I didn’t fill that out because I found out about it after I did my 30-second testimonial. (I was in the first group of 5).
After I finished my testimonial, I went back to my spot in line. There we waited until about 7:30 before they finally let us in. The usual rush to the front of the stage ensued, and within about 10 minutes everyone was in. The director came out on stage and gave us our instructions.
The night would be broken up into many short sets. After a certain number of songs, the director would conference with the band and see if they could go to the next section. They explained about how we weren’t allowed to sing along to the songs, as this would ruin the recording. They also explained that some songs might be performed twice if they so desire. Certainly NO flash photography as that would guarantee a lost take. Finally, a request came that drew a lot of applause from the back of the crowd and none from the front. The director requested that at certain points during the planned breaks, the crowd could rotate themselves as a group so that stage left would be the front row, and the front would be stage right, as so forth. This would allow different faces to be seen in the front at different points in the show. Like I said, a lot of cheers from the back, a lot of grumbles from the front. After a couple of minutes though, people in the front realized that being cooperative was the idea tonight, and arguing would just get you a one-way ticket out of there.
About 10 minutes later, the house lights were turned down, and the Critic Intro came on over the PA, with a blurred “Direct From Brooklyn” sign projected onto the curtain. After the Critic Intro was finished, John and John came out, Flansburgh with an acoustic guitar, Linnell with his accordion. The curtain closed behind them, and they played a number of songs duo style without a drum machine.
Hope That I Get Old Before I Die
Cowtown – Since the crowd was asked to not sing, the usual “ahhhhh” yelled by the crowd between verses was absent. As a result, Flansburgh was emitting a faint whimper instead.
I Am Not Your Broom – A cappella.
Number 3 – Best version I’ve heard of this.
After this, the Johns stepped back behind the curtain, and after a short 10-minute break, the curtain opened again to reveal the full band after the Cricket Intro was played.
Fingertips - Flans said after the song was over, “That was perfect!” obviously relieved that they didn’t have to do THAT one again.
New York City – This had a false start, so Flans had to introduce the song twice.
Pet Name (Aborted) – Only the first few notes were played of this song, and then they stopped and decided to scrap the song and move on.
The director then rotated the crowd, so I ended up to stage right in the middle of the crowd. At this point, the curtain remained open for the rest of the show.
Mink Car – Played twice. Live premiere of this Flansburgh ballad. Dan Miller plays the Jim O’Connor flugal horn solo on his guitar. The reason they probably played it twice was because Flansburgh screwed up the words on the chorus a little bit.
Birdhouse In Your Soul
They Got Lost (Slow LTW version) – Nice to hear this version again. Last time I heard this version was the “NOW” show back on 10/23/99 at the Bowery.
Another brief break ensued, and then Flansburgh came out with the radio!
Spin the Dial – One of the best I’ve seen. A simple 3-chord song came on and Flansburgh started improving lyrics. Linnell based the title on what Flansburgh sang, “Head in the Trunk Of My Car”. I think people are going to start requesting this now!
Birdhouse In Your Soul – Again! Before they played this, the director asked if the crowd could be a little more enthusiastic (Obviously, the length of the wait and the show had drained the audience already). But telling a TMBG crowd to act more enthusiastic is certain to inspire. As a result, I have never seen more pogoing to Birdhouse in quite some time. Maybe that’s what the director wanted.
Lie Still, Little Bottle – With the stick. Well almost. As Flansburgh instructed everyone to snap his or her fingers, everyone starts snapping quickly. This led to Flansburgh commenting, “I like this; it sounds like we’re playing for a bunch of beatniks!” The snapping tempo was perfect, but the stick microphone cut out. With a collective “Awwww..” from the crowd, the band had to move on to the next song.
Ana Ng – Unfortunately, all the people who regularly do the Ana Ng dance were already away from the front. Except for Rob and Laura that is. And the director got their dance on film.
Man, It’s So Loud In Here (Rock version) – Linnell mentioned this wasn’t the version that is on the album, so it was the tried and true version the band had played back in 1999 a lot.
Another break. During these breaks, TMBG staff would bring out plates of dixie cups filled with water to the crowd. During the final break, Dan Miller even helped out!
Dr. Worm – Done almost as a sound check. Linnell was talking to the director throughout the song. I believe he wanted the accordion to sound just right, as this next batch of songs were accordion songs. Bridge section – Short version: “They call me Dr. Worm………I’m not a real doctor….”.
Hideaway Folk Family – Complete with 16 bars of “Scream as if you’re in hell!”
Particle Man – Bridge section – “Butterfly of Love”.
The Famous Polka – Not on the set list, but got the crowd charged right back up. This was the one of the few times the crowd felt okay to scream during the song. “HEY!”
Drink! – Some people with glasses raised in song.
She’s An Angel
Shoehorn With Teeth – No “Born in a Graveyard” intro. At the end of the song, Flansburgh asked for just Hickey to play the one note so they could dub in a perfect glockenspiel note later on, referencing an earlier comment Flansburgh made about seeing a Rolling Stones concert film in an IMAX theater where the band had obvious overdubs.
Don’t Let Start
The Guitar - During the coda section, Linnell instructed everyone to take a solo. Each band member’s solo was exactly the same though, they all spread their arms wide to the applause of the audience! Tah-Dah!
Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – Dan Miller acoustic guitar solo to intro it, and it sounded great. However, when they started the song, it almost sounded like someone changed keys. Can anyone agree with me on this point? It just didn’t sound right.
Another break, another Spin The Dial, this time nothing really came up too well, but…
Band On The Run – The Dans started playing this classic Wings tune, albeit in a different key. Flansburgh went along with it by singing the lyrics. When they got to the 2nd section, Dan changed to the correct key playing the Denny Laine guitar solo there, and they stopped right there.
Cyclops Rock – “I’m sick like Chuckie was sick,” Also, one again, the crowd could scream, “DAN!”
Women & Men – Played twice. The first time had a false start as Linnell started playing in the key of “It’s Not My Birthday”. Also on the first time, Flansburgh didn’t play at all, he was off the stage. The 2nd time, Linnell switched around the words of “shipwreck” and “shoreline”. Flansburgh returned to play guitar.
Subliminal – Played 1.5 times. The first time something didn’t sound right from Weinkauf’s bass, and Flansburgh stopped the song. He went off to the side and was obviously distressed about this delay. It has really occurred to me that Flansburgh takes his work very seriously, while Linnell won’t show his frustration when things go wrong. But that’s my opinion, I really don’t know exactly what their personalities from what they show on stage. In an almost surreal manner, the crowd cheered on hearing the first few notes of Subliminal both times.
Twisting – This song almost killed me. I was losing a lot of energy, and my chest started to hurt. That still didn’t stop me from dancing though! Preceeded with Flansburgh saying almost facetiously, "Hey! Let's play Twisting!"
She’s Actual Size – Standard Dan Hickey solo. Also, people still snapped during the soft section.
Til My Head Falls Off – Great to hear this song again! They’ve sound checked a lot, but haven’t played in a show that I have been to in a while.
After a longer break, the crowd is asked to rotate again. A number of people have left already since it was already close to midnight on a Sunday night. But most of the crowd remains, the real troopers. Not to mention the band playing this long of a show. Now came the last portion of the show.
Robot Parade – Duo style, children’s version.
Sorry, I F**ked Up The Show - As most people know, this song is just the band rocking out to power chords with Flansburgh stopping the band occasionally to say the title and a few four-letter words.
Lie Still, Little Bottle – This time, the stick worked, but even better, the crowd started snapping without Dan Hickey giving a drumbeat for a tempo. The crowd plucked the tempo right out of the air, and it was beautiful.
They Might Be Giants – Flansburgh introduces the band again during the coda of the song.
Ana Ng – 2nd time around. This time, the regulars were in the back, so we had a row of people doing the dance. Also on the 2nd time, Flans didn’t sing the “I Don’t Want The World…” line.
Why Does The Sun Shine? – At this point of the show, Flansburgh did something that I thought he’d never do, ask for requests! Of course, everyone started shouting every obscure song they could think of. I’ve Got A Match was denied, they didn’t know how to play it. A group of people wanted Sensurround, and then a group of people including Lawrence requested End Of The Tour. Finally, the crowd mentioned a couple of songs the band knew how to play. The Sun simply rocked, one of the best versions I’ve heard!
No One Knows My Plan – Courtesy of Mike Levy. He had the bright idea, CONGA! And since all of the regulars were in the back already, we had no problem with it! The entire room (Minus most of the front two rows, they refused to leave their space they waited so long for) was doing the conga! Quite the sight to see.
James K. Polk – THREE, no make that FIVE confetti cannons!
And with that, the show was finally over, 4 hours and approximately 40 songs later (Depending how you’re counting the songs). I was wiped out and wanted to head straight home as fast as possible. I did hear Flans and the Dans came out to talk to the crowd, but I was thinking about how much sleep I would get before work the next day! To everyone who managed to stick around for the whole thing, you are all troopers. To the band, what you did was incredible. To go from playing a typical 90 minute show to this 4 hour, Springsteenesque marathon show is an incredible show of endurance. This was also a show where people flew in from all the country with visitors from Seattle, Miami, and Iowa.
I think I’ve had my fill of TMBG for a while, at least until the fall when they play again. Until then, I’ll be in touch with this page for more tour dates and what not. Take care everyone.
- John J. Ryan