October 21, 1999
"The 'THEN' Show"

1st set: Hello Radio / Cowtown / Where Your Eyes Don't Go / Number Three / I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die / Cage & Aquarium / Mr. Me / I'll Sink Manhattan / 32 Footsteps / She's An Angel / Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head / Shoehorn With Teeth / Maybe I Know / Istanbul / Ana Ng / (She Was A) Hotel Detective / Hideaway Folk Family / Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes

2nd set: Cricket intro / Toddler Highway / Don't Let's Start / We're The Replacements / Mr. Klaw / Particle Man / The Famous Polka / Pencil Rain / Birdhouse In Your Soul / Twisting / Older / On the Drag / Finished With Lies / Masshole (Band intros) / Dr. Worm / James K. Polk / New York City

Thursday was probably the best TMBG show I have ever attended. The special night began with the Candy Butchers. Shana, the girl who writes wonderful concert reports, was standing next to me for the show. She was wearing a suit as was lead singer Mike Viola. For the last song, Viola yelled, "You! You're wearing a suit! Come on up here!!!" And she did.

For the last drum fill, Shana was allowed behind the drum risor to do her best Dan Hickey impersonation.

After the Candy Butchers, They Might Be Giants came out, but it just the Johns and their first drummer, a big gray box. Later on during their full band set, they jokingly thanked They Might Be Giants for letting them open up for them. Their first set with just the two Johns and the drum machine was wonderful. We all got to hear songs we haven't heard since the last "old school" show. Songs like Cowtown, Mr. Me, 32 Footsteps, Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes, and other stuff from the "THEN..." 2-CD set. We also got to hear normal songs from their set done in the "old school" fashion, like She's An Angel, Ana Ng, and Shoehorn With Teeth, still featuring Dan Hickey on the glockenspiel.

They also performed Istanbul, and explaining why they didn't to cover that song originally done my the Four Lads. They explained that after performing many 20-minute shows in New York City, they finally played a club in Virginia, where they were asked to play for two hours. They didn't have two hours worth of material, so they had to do what they could quickly, so they came up with playing Istanbul, a two chord song. Ironically, what started as a filler song became their most famous song. I have seen this happen too often with bands, when the song they really DIDN'T think would be a big hit becomes their big hit.

There was a screw-up with Maybe I Know as Flans and Linnell got the verses switched. They solved the problem by doing a shortened version of the song, called, "Deep Down Inside She Loves Me."

John Flansburgh plays harmonica for 32 Footsteps.

"When they stop the drum machine..." John Linnell activates the drum machine for the next song....

She's An Angel.

And of course, the mandatory confetti shot for James K. Polk. They fooled everyone tonight by launching the cannon after the 2nd verse instead of the 1st. The beginning of the full set consisted of songs also from the "THEN" set, including Don't Let's Start, We're The Replacements, Mr. Klaw, and a pleasant surprise, Pencil Rain (only time I've heard. Afterwards, the played some Flood stuff, including Letterbox. Then they continued with a couple of tunes previewing the Saturday show, On The Drag and Finished With Lies. Flans screwed up On The Drag big time, starting in the wrong key, which led a hckler to yell, "That's twice!". Flans told him off after that. Also Linnell's mic fell on him during Finished With Lies, forcing him to crane his neck for the rest of the song. But we were all too happy to care. We all walked away we the knowledge that this way the best TMBG show we've seen.