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Setlist: (incomplete and out of order)


This show was John Flansburgh and John Linnell's first public performance together. It took place at a Sandinista rally in Central Park, which was celebrating the third anniversary of the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution. They were introduced as "El Grupo De Rock And Roll". "We played a FSLN rally outside somewhere on the Great Lawn of Central Park for what one could safely assume was an entirely Spanish-speaking audience and mostly bona fide Sandinistas. We got a positive reaction, but they were already in a very good mood."[1] They played to a crowd of about 30 people,[2] and were the only English-speaking band on the bill.[3] Flansburgh: "We thought it would be a hippie gathering kind of thing, but it was actually a meeting of Sandinistas."[4]

John Linnell and John Flansburgh performing at the Sandinista rally in Central Park

The show was part of a three-day event celebrating the third anniversary of the Nicaraguan Revolution. The event was held by Casa Nicaragua, an organization that was dedicated to spreading Nicaraguan culture in the United States and promoting solidarity. A listing in Perspectiva Mundial described the show as a "picnic and celebration, with music, dance, food and entertainment," in Central Park's Great Lawn, 85th St near Delacorte Theater. The show was free, and ran from 12pm to 5pm. It was one of the hottest days of the year in New York City.[5] The band's next show took place seven months later, in the middle of a heavy snowstorm.

The band was not yet named They Might Be Giants, and they were introduced to the Spanish-speaking crowd as simply "El Grupo De Rock And Roll". Flansburgh has said that they did perform this show under a real name,[6] but he refuses to reveal it: "We first had a really bad name - a name so bad that John and I have made a vow that we will never tell anyone, even our children. We used it for our first show, a Sandinista rally in Central Park. We had this really terrible, terrible, embarrassing name."[7] He further stated: "Some things are sacred and the secret of our first name will forever remain with me and John."[8] They might have played this show under the name "Circle Gets the Square"[9] (a lyric from "Sally Boy Candy Bar") or "The Pencils".[10] Around this time they were also considering the name "Dumptruck".[11]

"Space Suit" was the first song they played.[12] Flansburgh: "As we were doing the setlist, we had the foresight to realize that instrumentals would go over really well. I think we pulled out, like, the three instrumentals that were in our repertoire at that point."[13] Linnell in a 1988 interview, further detailing the show: "It wasn't a very big rally. But a friend of ours who is like a leftie person had us come and do this thing, and nobody in the audience spoke any English. They were all recently arrived Nicaraguans, but they apparently really dug the show because they came back and tried to tell us how much they liked us in the few words of English that they knew."

Flansburgh described the show in a 2002 Mailing List email:

It seems like a very fuzzy yesterday to me that John and I were carrying the majestic but ponderously weighty Farfisa organ over the rock walls that border the cab route going through the middle of the park. I recall we played "Cowtown" and "Space Suit" (with Linnell playing the clarinet). Other songs I vaguely remember are "Penguin" (sample lyric:"penguin, penguin, all alone and lost, standing, sitting, looks for a place to park") and "Cabbagetown" (which ultimately became an Elektra b-side). It would be 1983 before we played out again (where we would incorporate the cutting edge technology of the 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder).

The show's exact date was unknown to fans until June 2023, when a listing for the show was discovered in a July 1982 issue of The Militant, a socialist newsweekly. The finding was confirmed independently by John Flansburgh[14] and John Linnell, via his old calendar.