From This Might Be A Wiki

Fan Recaps and Comments:


Flansburgh during Band Intros:
"Thank the fellow with the IFC shirt, you’ve got some big ideas, but this is not the time or place."
Linnell mocked my claw movements during the last verse of James K. Polk.
Overall, great show! I even managed to get a signed drumhead from Marty Beller!


Top-form banter at this show. There was much discussion of taxidermying one's friends, and whether this would necessarily involve cannibalism.
It was hard to work up a full head of steam after the awful news from Pittsburgh. People sang along very loudly to "Your Racist Friend" and seemed to appreciate "The Communists Have the Music"; there was less enthusiasm for "When Will You Die" as images of guns flashed on the screen behind the band.
I've never seen a crowd so apathetic to "Birdhouse", which usually has that "all rise for the national anthem" feel. I think the band actually wrapped it up a chorus early because people weren't super into it. But they pulled out all the stops and got us moving with other bouncy songs, especially "Doctor Worm" and "The Mesopotamians". In addition to the usual crowdpleasers, it was great to hear "Experimental Film" and "How Can I Sing like a Girl?" for the first time in a while.
Curt Ramm was ON FIRE—the best performance I've seen from him, I think. He gave a really legendary intro to "Istanbul", alternating trombone and trumpet.
I felt personally called out by the intro to "All Time What" and "Let's Get This Over With" that apologized to people who'd been dragged to the show by their friends. The friends I dragged to the show assured me that they liked those songs just fine. (It's possible that they were just being nice.)
I'm glad Linnell likes his contra-alto clarinet so much, but I'm a little sad that its appearance onstage no longer promises a performance of "Cloisonné".
Terminal 5 is a good venue for TMBG, with a little more capacity than Music Hall of Williamsburg and some nice amenities. I hope they play there again.


This show was at Terminal 5, a venue I hadn't been to before and was not particularly impressed with--it was...fine, but didn't have any real charm to it. This was in fact my first time seeing them anywhere in NYC besides the Music Hall of Williamsburg in a good 15 years, as that seems to be their main home base these days.
I was having my all-too-common travel delays and difficulties getting to this show from the one the previous night in Baltimore, no need to detail it all here, but suffice it to say that by the time I arrived at the venue (along with my pals Joe and OK) everything was totally packed. We did manage to find a place that was way in the back near the bar but elevated enough that we could see over most of the rest of the crowd, which was I think about the best that could be expected given the circumstances--at least I could still see, even if I was much farther away from the stage than I'd prefer.
I was still frazzled and out of it by the time the show started (these show trips of mine also inevitably involve eating very little and sleeping even less), but all of that melted away the moment John stepped on stage, holding something special: A CAMERA. My exact words to Joe and OK were "He's taking a picture, I'M GONNA DIE." His collection of vintage cameras is one of my absolute TOP TOP TOP favorite things about him and, much like seeing him remove his shirt onstage (even though he had another one on underneath) in Baltimore the previous night, seeing him with a camera on stage was something I'd wanted so desperately for so long that once it was actually happening I could scarcely even comprehend it. Unfortunately our distance from the stage meant I couldn't identify the specific model, but it was still way way more exciting than I can even attempt to put into words, and occasioned multiple exclamation points in my show notebook.
They opened again with "Damn Good Times," during which Flans greeted us with a "good afternoon" (after the aforementioned out-of-it-ness from several days on the road with them myself my sense of time was about as out of whack as his probably was) and told us how great it was to be in NYC. After that they did "I Left My Body," "Your Racist Friend," "Particle Man," and "The Famous Polka."
Flans told us "It's true, we're not taking requests!" and explained that New York is "our home away from home even when we're at home." He asked John how his day was and he said he'd slept for most of it, which he described as "very exciting."
JL: We've been traveling around Canada, playing some exotic places that we've never been to before. We did not play in Moose Jaw. Nor did we play in Medicine Hat. But we did play I believe it was called?
JF: Interesting side note about Canadians: they will not take photographs during live performances, no matter how much they're welcome to do so.
He then gave us the important stage announcements that we were welcome to take as many pictures as we wanted to and they would be playing "two face-melting sets. The second set is all fusion, and so far nobody likes it. But it's like, count along with They Might Be Giants, some complex rhythms, y'know, some Rush tribute--not actual Rush songs, but just Rush tribute songs."
Then he told a story about being on Twitter the night before and how sometimes "when people leave posts that are impossible to comprehend, you have to seek out who posted it. And the person who posted it wrote that they were 'shy AF.' And I still don't know what that could possibly mean." John replied, "It's 'autofocus.' It's a photography term," which was a joke I enjoyed way too much (see above comments about my ABSOLUTE FREAKOUT over him having a camera on stage). I also couldn't help thinking of a show I'd been to on the spring leg of the tour when he'd been clearly legitimately baffled by Flans writing "AF" on the setlist and needed him to explain "It's as fuck, John."
Flans asked John to confirm that he'd really done nothing but sleep all day, and he said that he'd also had an exhausted and semi-coherent conversation with his wife. Flans replied that he'd presented his wife with their very first piece of taxidermy.
JL: We discussed that earlier in the tour [at the Ithaca show two days previous--Flans purchased it at a weird antique shop next door to the venue]. You were not sure how Robin was gonna go for it.
JF: It was definitely one of those take it or leave it things, y'know. I mean taxidermy--c'mon, people. It's sort of a horrible idea.
JL: And yet! How endearing.
Flans went on to explain his visit to the "antique parentheses junk store" and how he wasn't actually sure what animal the taxidermy he got was but "it looks just like a tiger, if a tiger was this big" *holds up hands to indicate something about the size of a small dog*.
JF: We have determined that there's a special nook at the top of the stairs in the basement where it will reside. The big problem is if you get something like taxidermy you're either gonna lose the friends you have...or you're gonna have to move on to all new friends who might be a little bit creepier.
JL: Right, but you can taxidermy your old friends, so you still get to keep them.
JF: John, it's that kind of outside thinking that keeps this band fresh.
JL: Think about it. Problem solved!
JF: What's a little bit of cannibalism among friends?
JL: I didn't say eat them. I just said stuff.
JF: Oh I'd say eat them! With a delicious Béarnaise sauce!
JL: This is the basis of our collaboration, John. I say taxidermy, you say eat.
This has gotta be one of my favorite pieces of banter that I've ever witnessed--in addition to finding taxidermy really fascinating and compelling myself, I just loved Flans expressing concern about his friends not being creepy enough to handle it, and then his BFF immediately responding with something hella creepy, and then him going back to that and making it even creepier--and weird as it sounds I think it actually is a fitting summary of the way their collaboration...elevates each other, let's say.
Flans explained to us again that there would be two sets but "only one epically long conversation at the beginning of the show," which he further described as "another episode of 'inappropriate things to say in a public forum."
Up next was the double shot of the always extremely high-energy and superfun "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "The Guitar," the latter featuring some very adorable hopping and waving on the "the lion waves goodbye" part from John. Afterwards, Flans apologized because he'd accidentally kept playing in the previous song and "blazed over Danny's solo moment."
Then he started to introduce the next song but stopped for some kind of on-stage whispering from Danny, who apparently thought he was confused about the setlist order. He protested that whatever Danny was telling him was what he was introducing.
JF: Danny! It's a little bit early to be fuckin' up the show! I drank my 14 coffees. I'm focused.
JL: We don't have time to discuss stuff off-stage, so this is really both a performance and a meeting for us.
Then Flans said something about an attempted intervention for cold medicine but that he was "an autonomous agent of destruction." Then he did the usual big spiel to introduce the contra-alto clarinet, which is "on the Audobon Society's Endangered Species of Musical Instruments list," and then the self-deprecating (and depressing to me cos I adore I Like Fun so much) bit about how he knew we'd all be disappointed that they were about to play some new songs but should crank up the fake enthusiasm.
The first of the new songs (expectedly, because of the presence of the contra-alto) was "All Time What," rockin' as ever. Afterwards, Flans asked if those of us in the "Enormo-Dome" wanted to hear another new song, and when he got intense cheers in response (as he'd directed, but I'm sure I can't have been the only one who was genuinely thrilled with new material from this truly sensational album), he replied (in a faux-gruff voice), "This is truly unexpected, ladies and gentlemen! Unprecedented for a bunch of good ol' boys from the Deep South like us to have to dazzle you with some of our newer material." His voice cracked a bit midway through, as if he were struggling not to laugh at his own awareness of how ridiculous he was being. Then he said he was going to "knowingly chuckle as a talk," but the sound that he was making now sounded more like a cross between coughing and choking.
John decided to jump in too at this point. In his own silly voice (which sounded slightly closer to actually Southern than Flans's, although still quite far off from anything real): "This next song was written when we were flat broke and stone drunk in the Louisiana rain. 'Member that, Flansburgh?"
Then he broke character for a discussion of Dan's shirt. "At the beginning of the show it looked like Mr. Dan Miller was wearing a shirt that said 'ICK AR,' and then a little later it seemed to be saying 'CHICK PAR' when he didn't have his guitar strap on. But I feel like there's more to it--we still haven't seen the's gonna be a reveal, as the show goes on. There's gonna be more, I trust." Having seen the shirt in full previously I can verify that its full message is "CHICKEN PARM," which is still pretty mysterious, frankly.
Anyway, up next was "Let's Get This Over With," which I still could not get over my intense excitement at finally getting to see on this fall leg trip after desperately wanting to from the moment I first heard it way back in January. Next came "Doctor Worm"--I've seen him do the bridge of this song in various silly ways, but never quite like how he did it this time, which was leaving out quite a few of the words.
Afterwards, Flans (now pulling out a smooth-radio-DJ-style voice) proclaimed the next song "a special long-distance dedication to all the taxidermists in the audience tonight." John reprised the "flat broke and stone drunk in the Louisiana rain" bit from earlier, this time adding "covered in formaldehyde." Flans ran with it: "Tiny whiskers glued to the backs of our hands...on accident." John said he wanted this whole bit to keep going, but that they were running out of material.
Up next was my eternally beloved "Museum of Idiots," followed by my also beloved "Authenticity Trip" (a tonal/energy shift that should've been jarring but they pulled it off somehow). John explained that they were gonna do a couple more songs and then "take our hopefully well-deserved rest of 20 minutes or so. Where we'll just be backstage frozen in place panting, like, y'know, in a musical."
Then Flans said he was going to use the break to listen to another chapter of a book on tape. John said something about Keith Richards but Flans said it was about the making of A Star is Born. John asked him which version of A Star is Born it was. "I can't tell you." Then John asked him who was doing the reading. "Say it's Gilbert Gottfried. That's what I want." Flans explained that he actually was listening to the aforementioned Keith Richards thing ("It's a very colorful book. Don't do too many one of the big messages of the book."), but that Keith Richards himself only reads about that first four paragraphs and then hands it off to "the guy whose name I can never remember..." John: "The guy who plays Keith Richards in the pirate movies." Flans then explained how John had suggested Gilbert Gottfried should read the final chapter, "and then I proposed that all books on tape should end with the final chapter being read by Gilbert Gottfried. The fantastic surprise ending of every book on tape."
They closed the main set with "When Will You Die" and then "Spy" (complete with all its requisite improvisational silliness/awesomeness).
Flans started the second set with, "It's exciting to be performing so close to both Halloween and November 6. Don't usually conflate those two events, but in recent times they seem somehow--connected." Then he told us the next song was written by George Soros in 1840. "Currently they're making The Shining II: The George Soros Story. He's everywhere, people."
As the 1840 intro indicated, the next song was of course "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," and then came the expected explanation from John of the HUGE JUMP to the FUTURE of 1844, "where everything is preceded by the word SPACE. Space beards! Space horse and buggies! Space...quill pens, or something."
After (of course) "James K. Polk," Flans re-introduced Curt and gave a shout-out to Marty: "What says 'acoustic set' better than the electronic drum stylings of Mr. Marty Beller, ladies and gentlemen? Everybody loves the electronic drums on the acoustic set! Because it's a musical non sequiter."
Then he explained that the next song features the word "parkour," but "in spite of the French origins of the word 'parkour,' and the proximity of Germany to the country of France, no one in Germany knows what the word 'parkour' means. That is what we've discovered on our recent travels. Doesn't matter how many times you say it--it does not translate. They've got a different word for everything...except parkour." Then he said the next song was also the title track of the new album, and that there were signed copies of it available at the t-shirt stand, wherever that may be. "Can you find it? It's like geocaching. This is like the Zapruder film portion of the program, where people point in the direction of where the t-shirts came. The sound of the t-shirts came from over there."
After "I Like Fun," Flans introduced "Applause Applause Applause" with a plug for Dial-A-Song, and then: "This song takes us all the way back to September--fond memories of September, when things were simpler and less fucked up." Afterwards: "No unplugged performance from They Might Be Giants would be complete without the uninvited political comment, so: This next song is a special long-distance dedication to everyone who's not running for the Supreme Court of the United States." The next song, indeed appropriately enough, was "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?"
"Istanbul" and then "The Mesopotamians" led to "Why Does the Sun Shine?", complete with more of John's great, silly-voiced shenanigans on the spoken parts, e.g. "If the sun were hollow, a million earths would fit inside of the hollowed-out sun. But, yet, though, it's only a" After doing this a couple of times, him just switching back to his normal voice at the beginning of the part where he's supposed to explain how far away the sun is was enough to get a big laugh, and then another when he switched back again. Then: "Scientists have found that the sun is a huge...atom-crushing...apparatus...for crushing." Then came an apology for last night even though "it wasn't the real me," and then he informed us that the heat and light of the sun are caused by "this finger. That's it. That's all."
Up next was "Experimental Film," which elicited many excited exclamations all around amongst me and my show companions about how much we loved the song and how we'd never seen it before and just generally !!!!!!!! Later setlist searching revealed that I had in fact seen it before, but only once, and anyway the "OMG IT'S A SONG I REALLY LOVE THAT I'VE NEVER GOTTEN TO SEE THEM PLAY BEFORE" thrill is such a particularly intense and joyful one that I'm ok with it happening even if it's not strictly accurate.
And here is a tiny nitpicky thing that I might be embarrassed to admit were it not for the fact that I long ago blew my ability to pretend I don't care about such things way too much, so: I do adore the song, but I've always been bugged by the lyrical choice of "but" in "Which nobody knows about/But which I'm still figuring out"--I just don't think it makes any sense in context, and that "and" would've been the logical conjunction to go with--so I was quite happy to hear John agreeing with me(/forgetting his own lyrics--the more likely explanation if I'm being honest) and singing it that way.
After that there was some general yelling from the crowd (not even anything too specific as far as I could make out, just "BRAND NEW SONGS!"), but John explained, "We're delighted to take requests, but we will not be able to play any of them, because of our computerized light show." Then he said something about someone having written an entire setlist, which they would "take under advisement." Flans then promised they'd do it the following day. John: "Providence, Rhode Island. Be there. For one of the weirdest shows we've ever done." I am not sure if whatever paper they were referring to actually was a fan-created setlist or what, but that would actually be a really fantastic prize for them to have for some sort of contest--I know I can certainly think of plenty of other songs I'd otherwise never get the chance to see that I would very VERY much love to, and I know I'm not the only one.
Next they did "She's an Angel," one of my top favorite songs that I connect to in a very deep emotional way, and then "Let Me Tell You About My Operation," one of my top favorite songs that I connect to in a totally rockin' out and soaking up all the energy of Flans as the absolute king of stage presence way, so that was fantastic all around. Next was "Whistling in the Dark," which is not a song I have the same sort of deep attachment to, but it is quite fun live.
Afterwards, Flans addressed all of us in Terminal 5, "the concrete box that rocks," to tell us that we could get a free download of the next song from their website "1-800-GOT-JUNK. I'm being serious right now. I know it sounds like I'm lying." Then he said he wanted the houselights up for the next half hour so that "like The Carol Burnett Show" they could thank us all as individuals. Then John started playing some semi-schmaltzy keyboard music. "Lady with the skeleton shirt on/Don't turn around, I'm singing directly to you/Thank you for coming to the show/Fellow with the IFC shirt/You've got some good ideas, but this is not the time or place." There was also some confusion about someone who had a shirt that said "Babes" ("Oh it's the name of a band?/Is it your band?/Good") and what it means to wear a hat indoors, all still sung in something approaching falsetto.
They closed the name set with "The Communists Have the Music," rocking the socks off everyone as usual, making it a great closer.
The first encore consisted of band intros and then more socks-rocking with the perennial live favorite "Twisting," this time featuring John messing around some on his Kaoss Pad, which I don't think I've seen him do on this one before and was fun.
When they came back for the second encore, John thanked us and then said "You've made a happy band very old" which cracked me up. Then he did this bit I saw him do several times on this tour about how AC/DC fired their singer and replaced him with a crow. "I don't know why they've waited this long." Flans said that if you study the liner notes you'll see that the crow previously had a writing credit on "Hells Bells," "the big balls song." John said that crows are really smart (which is true!), and Flans said, "But kinda saucy lyric writers."
And then they closed the whole show out with "Dead" followed up by "Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal"--two such wildly different songs tonally, but somehow the combination worked, and was a fantastic way to wrap up a fantastic show!
Final (still requisite even though the all-spex-all-the-time thing makes such concerns significantly less important anymore) JL wardrobe comments: this blue stripey pocket ringer t-shirt he's been fond of lately, reasonably decent hair.


I realize I'm about four years late to the party here, but just wanted to chime in cuz I'm the maniac who brought my own set list to the show, which JL noticed and JF promtly confiscated from me. I did it as a goof and had posted it (either on Misc T, their Tumblr or BOTH) a few weeks prior to the show. I wish I had the foresight to include Sleepwalkers (played the following night) on my list, but sadly, I didn't. Anyway, I thought it might be good to document the fact that yes, one crazed fan did bring his own setlist to a TMBG show, and here it is: