Special Report: 

They Might Be Giants – New Year’s Weekend 2002




TMBG / Common Rotation – Vanderbilt – Plainview, LI – 12/29/01


Bangs / Cyclops Rock / Dead / Yeh Yeh / Ana Ng / Birdhouse In Your Soul /
Boss of Me / I've Got a Fang / Mink Car / James K. Polk / Twisting /
Spin the Dial (Where Does My Heart Beat Now? – Celine Dion, Tiny Dancer – Elton John, Love Shack – B-52s) / Older / Why Does the Sun Shine? / Man, It's So Loud In Here / Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / No One Knows My Plan /
The Guitar / Fingertips / Particle Man / Drink! / The Famous Polka / Dr.
Worm // Robot Parade / New York City


(Songs that did not make the cut: She’s An Angel – Dig My Grave)


Mighty Mighty Bosstones / TMBG / Cloudbreak / Betty In Black – Bohager’s – Baltimore, MD – 12/31/01-1/1/02


(No particular order)


New York City / Ana Ng / Cyclops Rock / She’s An Angel / Lie Still, Little Bottle / Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / Particle Man / Birdhouse In Your Soul / She’s Actual Size / Fingertips / The Guitar / James K. Polk / Man, It’s So Loud In Here / Yeh Yeh / Older / Auld Lang Syne / Why Does The Sun Shine? / Boss Of Me / Spin The Dial (Funkytown – Lipps, Inc. among others)


(Songs that did not make the cut: No One Knows My Plan / Drink!)


Yup, a crazy 4 days to be had, although done at a leisurely pace.  Lots going on, but yet I’m not wiped out at all the Wednesday after.  Let’s journey, shall we?


Saturday - 12/29/01 – After working out plans with my other friends, who I was taking to the show, we decided to show up shortly after 7 PM.  This did mean missing out on usually front row spots, but it was PAINFULLY cold, and we felt it better to not get sick for the party to come on New Year’s.  We all show up as they are letting people in, and go inside.


The line has moved inside for a long time already as since the people waiting for hours were shivering, they kept people warm by wrapping them around the bar inside.  We had to get our coats checked inside and they were searching EVERYONE for stuff like cameras or…  “What’s that little box have?”  “Oh, just stuff.”  “Yeah, okay…. Let me see that….”  Some people….


Finally we get up to the stage still manage to get third row stage Linnell where most of the “regulars” were.  And then we waited until about 9:30 for the opening band to come out.  As we waited, the locals got restless and starting chanting curses.  I started to get the feeling that this was going to be one of “those’ crowds.  And I’m talking the crowd at Toad’s Place I was a part of, which was the worst crowd in my TMBG show-going history.


The opener comes out, Common Rotation.  They were very good, if just a bit odd.  It was a 5-piece band with drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar/lead singer, bass, and other lead singer.  The other lead singer happens to be Adam Busch, who plays Warren, one of the "Geek Trio" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


Common Rotation is a band that used to be in Long Island and now lives in LA.  The singer from Buffy did some banter about talking to Flansburgh and calling him “Flans”.  Later, he came back said that Flansburgh just talked to him, “Don’t call me Flans.”  They did mostly folk-rock with hip-hop or ska beats mixed in.  They were very high energy, and I did enjoy them as an opener.  They did a few covers in the middle saying, “We want to be your opening band...” and did a snippet of a Weezer song and a cover of the Gap commercial song “Give A Little Bit”.  Then they wrapped it up by doing a full version of “Don’t Let’s Start” in almost a country version.  I enjoyed that since they pulled it off well and didn’t butcher it.  I wonder if they know about We Might Be Giants, Too.


Of course, the locals did not like them and kept yelling “YOU SUCK!” or flipping them off.  Just being plain rude and also pissing off the local Common Rotation fans in the house.  Totally uncalled for, unless the band is rude to the audience, which they weren’t.  It set the tone for the rest of the night.


Fortunately, TMBG came out relatively soon after that, only about 30 minutes rather than an hour.  TMBG played a very standard set that has already been reported on the newsgroup.  Here are the highlights:


Yeh Yeh - Linnell sports the new sax he got to replace the bari sax that was stolen in England during their tour there.  This sax is a tenor sax, something I’d never seen him play.  He can plays all the parts, but I prefer the bari more for the TMBG sound.


Spin The Dial  -  Definitely one of the better ones.  They spun onto “Where Does My Heart Beat Now?” by Celine Dion, and Flansburgh started singing it in this high voice making up a lot of words.  Then they came to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”.  The crowd started singing this almost religiously, and Linnell knew it cold playing it on keyboard.  Flansburgh sang a few bars.  The best though was when they got to “Love Shack”.  They spun it right at the end of the song where you hear, “You’re WHAT?”  And the audience responded: “TIN ROOF!!!! RUSTED!!!”  After which, Dan hickey chimed in with the drum upbeat, and the rest of the Dans and Linnell came in right on cue like they knew the song.  Of course, Dan Hickey knew the song cold as Flansburgh explained, “Ladies and Gentleman, former drummer of the B-52s, Mr. Dan Hickey!!!!”  And that’s a fact!


Why Does The Sun Shine? – Flansburgh:  “Everything on it is a gas!  The L.I.E.!  The B.Q.E.!”  Linnell – “The Meadowbrook.”


Istanbul – Linnell trades some solo riffs with Dan Miller on his tenor before Solder goes into his standard solo.  Forget the actual song, Dan Miller’s solo is the reason I look forward to hearing Istanbul!


No One Knows My Plan – Flansburgh:  “Everybody Conga!  I’m not f**king kidding!”  But very few people do.


Particle Man – Linnell sings his “Butterfly of Love” song.


Famous Polka – Flansburgh lets the audience play his guitar.


Dr. Worm – Linnell and his “spy congas” breakdown.


And now, the lowlights:  And if you were at the show, you know what I am talking about; you know it was the crowd.  From the get go, I wasn’t into the show that much as the negative vibe from the people just festered.  Then at the beginning of the show, there was a push to the front by some guys, which didn’t go over well at all.  They just stood there and watched until a Flood song came along.  They shortly, but that wasn’t all.  During Birdhouse, one guy was apparently VERY drunk.  He started dancing like a maniac moving around bumping into people.  This started a small mosh pit with some of the locals who saw this as an invitation to do so.  A lot of people were yelling at him to stop, and he didn’t stop until one girl slapped him silly.


Just lots of rampant disrespect of people throughout the place, and the band knew it.  As soon as the incident during Birdhouse occurred, TMBG immediately ripped through the set list, going through the motions.  The only came out for one encore, skipping one of my favorite live TMBG songs, Dig My Grave (Which with that crowd, you KNOW what would happen if they played that.)


Well, after so many shows, you can’t win them all and expect the best crowds.  Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned.  It’s just too bad for the people who were at their first TMBG show.  Hopefully, they still thought the show was great and will want to come back.


Oh, after the show my friends and I went to a diner for a post-show dinner.  It made for great concert stories and what not.  I didn’t get home until 4:30 that night, but no big deal.  I had nowhere to be that soon the next day.


Sunday – 12/30/01 – Got up at about noon and left with my friends Adam and Noa at about 2.  ETA for Baltimore, about 5:30 or so.  We got there and spent most of the night in a loft with a lot of people having a potluck dinner.  After watching a very funny Fox Sunday Night, I had some of Adam’s delicious pasta.  Afterwards, the people had instruments lying around, including a guitar, sax, and banjo.  I was jamming with a couple of other guys on the guitar, but later I started playing TMBG songs for me, Adam and Noa to sing.  We were getting loud and having a blast with this impromptu sing-along.  We even had a toy xylophone to make Shoehorn With Teeth work perfectly.  Also, we did the slow version of Why Does The Sun Shine, and one of the people started dancing to it.  I considered that a preview of what would happen when all of the TMBG fans converge for the documentary film premiere.  Bring your instruments!!!


We stayed at a different place since that loft was obviously going to be party central 24/7 and we needed sleep.  The place we were at was silent 24/7 and was a much better deal.


Monday – 12/31/01 – Get up at noon again, and get on the cell phone with Shana to pick her up.  She had been in the Baltimore area for a week already and was the 4th in our party.  Had some lunch at the Paper Moon, and then went to Bohager’s to pick up our tickets.  On our way down, we hear a commercial for the show we had tickets for that night, and they played “The Guitar” during it.  We met up with Rob and Laura at that point, who were staying in a hotel very nearby.  We got to see what they did with the place.  Turns out that Bohager’s used to be a small building in Fells Point.  Closer to the water was a tiki bar area called Parrot Island.  Daniel Bohager actually ended up buying Parrot Island, and then the old Bohager’s mysteriously burned down…. 


So now we had the new Bohager's which was the tiki bar with an airplane hanger over it to keep the place warm.  Ben Folds just did one of his solo shows there.  The area looked very nice.  There were casino tables on one end, a lager tiki bar in the middle, and a VIP section right next to the water.  Also, adjacent to the airplane hanger on the landside was a temporary tent built just for the night.  This was actually put over the parking lot.  This is where TMBG did their show, as Rob, Adam, and I noticed as we walked through the place.  The Bosstones had their gear set up in the main room.  Still at this point, we didn’t know who was headlining, the Bosstones or TMBG.  But by the looks of it is was the Bosstones. 


As we got our tickets I noticed Dicky Barrett, the lead singer of the Bosstones, walking around with his cell phone.  I noticed him but didn’t say hi since he was busy.  But as we walked back, I walked up and said hi, telling him that I opened up for the Bosstones last year with Professor Plum.  He said, “Oh, that’s why I thought I recognized you!”  We just talked for a minute about how things were going with me and also how I was amazed that this was such an amazing bill.  He called TMBG “Indie Legends.”  I wished him a good job that night as he took off.  We then head back to the place we were staying and changed into our dresses/suits.


We get back to Bohager’s at about just a little past 7.  The line is still very small, about 10 people long.  We meet up Rob and Laura in the front waiting in the small tent awning in the cold.  We also met up with a couple of die-hard Bosstones fans that were first in line.  They were a nice couple, but really didn’t see them once we got in.  We also received some noisemakers from Mix 106.1, one of the co-sponsors of the show.  Along with WHFS, they simulcast the show.

That's the line at the beginning of the show. From left to right, Shana, Adam, Noa, Rob, Laura, and a couple who were coming for the Bosstones.


We went in about a quarter to 8.  We got ourselves one of the few tables in the whole place, which was very nice.  It had some party hats, which I drew “TMBG 2002” on one of them, and “Mighty Mighty Bosstones 2002” on another one.  We got the drinks started early, at least Laura and I did.  We also watched some people already gambling.


We were just kind of hanging out drinking, waiting for the food and/or TMBG to go on.  The first band on in the small tent was Betty In Black, which was a large 8-9 piece band.  They were very good, and we also saw Danny Weinkauf watching their bass player.  I tried to talk to Danny about a guy I bumped into at a Bowery show that knew him from high school, but he could barely hear me, so that wasn’t working.  So I left that conversation.  However, in the larger room, he caught up to me and wanted to hear the story again.  So we talked for a little bit about that, the Bosstones, how touring sucks sometimes, and what not.  He also told us (Shana and myself, who were there talking to him) that TMBG was going on about 10:30, and playing through midnight.  This made me happy because it meant TMBG’s Auld Lang Syne.  So with that Danny took off and we wished him well.

Betty In Black, one of the openers.


While the 2nd band was going on, Cloudbreak, they finally brought the food out.  Tough luck for Cloudbreak, no one was watching them, people were too busy waiting on line for 30-60 minutes for food.  Very poorly planned here.  Cloudbreak was a 4-piece rock act, but I didn’t even hear them at all.


After we were done eating, we took our spots up front awaiting TMBG.  This was about 10:30, but had to wait until 10:45 for them to come out.  We met some girls who were at the Halloween show, and I told them how I was the guy in the Cyclops costume.


TMBG was introduced by a radio DJ, and they came out with New York City.  Ana Ng was also great because I taught those same girls the Ana Ng dance.  Other highlights: 


Particle Man -  Breakdown section in a minor key.


Lie Still, Little Bottle – With Linnell on tenor sax


Yeh Yeh – The “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!” from the front row is AWESOME!


Spin the Dial – One section I don’t remember too much from, other than Funkytown and one of Flansburgh’s “I hate country music” shticks.  However, we were wondering if he tuned it to WHFS, would we hear feedback?


Why Does The Sun Shine? – One of the many spots where the sound went haywire.  Hickey got ahead of everyone, and I started singing along to Hickey’s beat. Linnell noticed me doing head –movements along to the song and managed to get back on.  He smiled at me for that save.


Istanbul – Another point where band came apart.  They still managed to keep it together, but Flansburgh was obviously pissed off at this point.  He went back to the sound booth and most likely shouting very unpleasant things.  Things did not improve for Man, It’s So Loud In Here as the backing tape was only playing through one speaker.  Flansburgh’s guitar also wasn’t working very well during the song, and didn’t work at ALL during She’s An Angel.  He spent most of the song tuning up for the song after that.


Auld Lang Syne – With just a few minutes to midnight, they started The Guitar. By now, we know they won’t make it through in time.  As a result, when the DJ came up to announce it was close to midnight, it already was.  He did a countdown anyway, but it was VERY anti-climatic.  What made it even more anti-climatic was the balloon drop that never was.  The balloons just stayed in the bag. Another snafu on Bohager’s part.


During the show, Flansburgh showed us some cards with the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne and tossed them out to the crowd.  The people used this to sing along to TMBG, as they played it twice through.  After they were done, they tore into an awesome surf rock version of the song.  After that, they finished with Boss Of Me and left the stage.  No encore, Bosstones were set to go on in 5 minutes.


Other notes:  One of those girls was yelling “PARKER!  I WANT YOUR BABY!”  Danny got a BIG smile.


Flansburgh mentioned the Decoy museum and how it is made entirely out of wood.


Because it was COLD in the tent, Linnell mentioned how in almost 20-years of TMBG, this was the first time he was playing in a sweater.


So after TMBG was done, the Bosstones came on in 5 minutes at the larger stage.  I got my spot in the 3rd row for that, and they came out promptly.  Here are some highlights to that show if you are interested:


Crowd didn’t get crazy until about the 5th song.  That’s when during Devil’s Night Out; Dicky noticed me screaming the song and shoved the mic in my face.  I obliged with a scream that I don’t normally do for TMBG shows.


After that, the front was going nuts with the mosh pit.  Now at a Bosstones show, this is par for the course, so I had no problem with this.  Crowd-surfers, frat boys pushing, no problem.  It’s part of the job.


At one point, before Impression That I Get, Dicky did manage to quiet the crowd down for a final moment of silence for Sept. 11th.


They ended the set with the 1-minute hardcore cover they usually close shows with, Lights Out, one of my favs.  It’s like their version of Dig My Grave.  They did come out for an encore, which is another fav live song of mine, Little Big Ugly.


After playing a slightly shorter set than TMBG, they were done.  But I was happy.  What a night to rock out to two of my most favorite bands, and to get dressed up for it.  Of course, my suit needs a dry cleaning badly!

From left to right, Shana, Noa, Adam, myself.

Noa and Adam.


They never did announce the winner of the Bahamas vacation until 3, and we were all gone before then.  I actually only drank water once TMBG started, so I was fine and felt nothing the next morning.  We got in at 2 AM and went to bed shortly after.


Tuesday- 1/1/02Got out about 1:30 PM and had some lunch with Rob and Laura again, and headed back to NYC.  Dropped off my friends and got home at about 9 PM.


An almost perfect weekend if Bohager’s planned this a TAD better.  Lots of rest so I’m not tired at all today, a big bonus.  It was certainly the best overall show in my young life.  It’s going to be hard to top this bill in my lifetime.  Now, if only there had been some crossovers between bands that night…


Take care until the documentary premiere folks!


- John J. Ryan