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Jonathan Coulton's Opening:

  • Millionaire Girlfriend
  • Shop Vac
  • Brave
  • Creepy Doll
  • Redshirt
  • Mr. Fancy Pants
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Re: Your Brains

Set 1:

Set 2:

Encore 1:

Encore 2:

On the setlist but not played:

They Might Be Giants
— with Jonathan Coulton opening —
College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT
December 31, 2022 at 9:00 PM

Fan Recaps and Comments:


As I was spending New Year's Eve alone with my mom, I needed a source of entertainment that would properly occupy us both. It was just my luck that Victor from the Misc. T Facebook group was streaming TMBG's NYE show in Providence. We put Victor's feed up on our smart TV, and I got to formally introduce my mom to Brooklyn's ambassadors of love. And guess what...she was very much impressed with them.
In particular, my mom was amazed by:
Istanbul - I found this arrangement of Istanbul to be one of the flashiest I've seen, with a saxophonist and a trombonist each doing solos at the beginning, and Kurt Ramm taking on the end. And my mom was in agreement. Kurt Ramm's extended trumpet solo garnered authentic "wow"s from my mom. She was already hooked by the beginning solos, but the circular breathing exercise really sealed the deal. [ed. note: Mark Pender played trumpet at this show in place of Curt Ramm]
Stilloob - She seemed legitimately impressed by the backwards Sapphire Bullets, and definitely recognized it for the technical feat that it was. She kept asking me if I knew when they'd play the forwards video. She was excited to see it.
The encores - My mom could not believe her eyes when the Johns came back for two encores. She didn't expect them to do one encore, let alone two.
Throughout the show, I tried my best to introduce my mom to the basics of TMBG lore and answer all her questions...yes, there are two Johns. Yes, they both have wives. No, this song is not from Flood. Yes, this one is. No, Flansburgh doesn't play accordion.
I'd say the indoctrination went pretty well...even though my mom couldn't make out most of the lyrics in the songs thanks to the stream's off-and-on audio quality, she was basking in the glow of the Johns' talent.
And now, an approximate retelling of various exchanges we had during the show:
Ana Ng
My mom: "Is it spelled 'A-N-G?'"
Me: "No, it's 'N-G.' It's Vietnamese. It's about a guy who meets a Vietnamese girl at the World's Fair and then never sees her again."
My mom: "I wonder if this was based on their real experiences."
Me: "Actually, Linnell got the idea from seeing a name in a phone book."
My mom: "How do you know all these words and how they're spelled? How do you know what the song's about? Do you study the lyrics?"
Particle Man
This song got my mom giggling. She claims it was her favorite of the night. Linnell on accordion seems to make her happy. As he should.
With a mixture of confusion and intriguedness, she asked, "what does 'particle man' mean?" I had to explain to her that, the way John Linnell's brain works, a lot of his lyrics don't have a deeper meaning.
According to her, it only makes sense that Triangle Man would beat Particle Man, since "a triangle has pointy bits." This is probably the best Particle Man interpretation I've ever heard.
My mom repeatedly said she really thinks John Linnell and Weird Al should do an accordion duet. She's definitely not the first person to wish for a Weird Al/TMBG collab....
The Mesopotamians
My mom: "These guys sure do love history."
Me: "Oh yes. Yes they do."
The Guitar
My mom was grooving along to this one. Considering she was already familiar with the Lion Sleeps Tonight subject matter, it was the one song of the night that she legitimately "got." The switch-ups of familiar lyrics with silver spaceships and lions on the phone earned an amused/bemused reaction from her. She asked me why the projector screen didn't show an animation of a lion in a spaceship during the song, and I think she has a point.
Darlings of Lumberland
My mom: "Are they singing about a ghoul???"
Me: "Yeah, they tend to sing about a lot of morbid things."
Let Me Tell You About My Operation
My mom: "Oh I love this. They're doing a big band sound."
I personally think this was the best Operation I've ever heard. The tempo was on-point, and the band played at just the right pace to cook up pure euphoria. Linnell had this airy, rich keyboard tone, that complemented some of the most vaudevillian horns I've heard TMBG break out.
Dr. Worm
My mom: "Is this a kids' song?" (She also asked this during Particle Man. I think she's beginning to get a hang of the kind of subject matter TMBG lyrics focus on.)
I am thankful to have introduced my mom to my favorite band tonight. And she's glad to have shared it with me. We both smiled huge during the confetti cannons and the Auld Land Syne sing-along. Tangible joy. These are memories that will stick with us. She loved sharing in my interests, and I loved seeing her spur-of-the-moment reactions. And we both agreed that the Johns can put on one heck of a show.