TMBG in Helotes 3/10/13

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Quinn Collard

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Mar 19, 2013, 2:41:15 PM3/19/13
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Pictures: http://www.museumofidiots.com/john/live/2013/0310/

The John T. Floore Country Store was certainly a unique venue for TMBG to play at. It was completely unlike anywhere I'd ever seen them before, or anyone else for that matter. It was the most Texan place I've ever been in in my life--cowboy boots and hats hanging from the ceiling, "$100 FINE FOR FIGHTING" painted very prominently several places on the walls. The Johns LOVED it and kept talking about how cool it was to play there, and it made me proud of being a native Texan that they dug it so much.

Jason, the guy I went to the show with, pointed out that they basically flipped the setlist from the night before--not exactly, but songs that they'd done early they did late and vice versa.

After "Damn Good Times":

JF: Texas state law requires me to inform you that Dan Miller's fingers never leave his hands for the entire performance....I felt like we could almost touch the ceiling on that song.
JL: If not for state regulations.

Before "Nanobots":

JF (with mic effect): It is my honour and privilege to inform you that I will be singing in this voice for the entire next song. And under my robot tutelage the band will change. New rules guys. [some other stuff I couldn't make out] My guitar sounds weird too.
JL: I think it's because you have robot ears--it sounds normal to me.

JL: This is a song about our eleventh president. He's the reason Texas is now part of the United States...as far as *many* people are concerned.

Flans was talking about how excited they were to be playing somewhere new and different--he said they usually have to go back to the same sorts of places all the time.

JF: We were excited to be playing in a place with so much local interest. The high fines for fighting alone...The fines could be doubled at any time.
JL: I think if you fight at our show...you should get *paid*. That's how rare it is. The odds are flipped.
JF: A lot of people in New York have been getting their iPhones stolen, cos you can resell them. So when I see all these people holding phones up over their heads, I'm like, "*Don't they know?*"...There's a thing where you can set your phone to post every picture you take to Facebook, and there was this woman a few days ago who got her phone stolen and this guy was posting selfies while smoking an enormous bong, and it was so...victorious, like, "*I got your fucking phone.*"...and that man's name was John Flansburgh. You came for the music. I came for your phones.

After they played "The Famous Polka" (during which Flans let someone play his guitar, but by handing his pick to one girl, not by holding it out to anyone who could reach like he does sometimes), he said, "We know what you're thinking--these guys come in with their bullshit big-city ways, but they're bringing some *kindness* into the audience, through involuntary audience participation. Well, we are teaching the controversy, because there's even more audience participation." Then he explained how people would be singing on "Drink!" "Because this is a musical town, this song is in waltz time." Then, "I will pretend to be both myself and the audience. Drink [in loud angry weird voice] drink drink...The monster voice was the audience. We have a hard time separating individuals from our fears. But we're working on it...through live performance." Then they did the song, then:

JF: Give yourself a round of applause for giving yourself a round of applause! It's a feedback loop of love!
JL: Self-love.
JF: Self-love! No love is stronger...yet so fragile. Nothing is so visible, yet invisible.

Then John said, "This is a song we haven't played yet on this tour...and we're about to find out why." So I was very curious about what it would be, but it turned out to be better than anything I could have hoped for--"TURN AROUND." That song has the unique distinction of being the song that was my very favourite when I started buying Their albums for myself in high school, and even though there are songs I like more now it's still one of my top top ones, and has a special place in my heart because it was the first. I'd never seen it live before--they do it every once in awhile, but somehow I'd just never happened to be at a show when they did. It was SO AWESOME live--John basically yelled the third verse, any accordion is always welcome, and I was definitely not the only one who was really excited about it.

JL: I want to apologize to the guy who has the really bright light shining directly on him. It only comes on twice in the show, so you don't know it's going to happen.
JF: You'll be getting to the next show a little *later*. You obviously got here early.
JL: He's looking at us, but his retinas just see giant dots.

Then Flans told a story about seeing Patti Smith at the Orpheum in 1978, and when people cheered he said, "No, it wasn't good," and explained that that was because "I was right in front of the PA, and I felt like a hockey puck--noise coming at me all night." Flans is, of course, SO AWESOME for being a cool enough 18-year-old to go see Patti Smith at all.

So I thought "Turn Around" was going to be the absolute highlight of the show for sure, but they followed it up with another strong contender: "PUT YOUR HAND INSIDE THE PUPPET HEAD." That one was a *little* less exciting cos "Turn Around" was a complete surprise and I knew they'd been doing this one some lately so I was expecting it at at least one of the shows on this trip, but it's still one of my favourite songs that I'd never seen, and even more significant in my fan history than "Turn Around," as it was the song that first made me fall in love with TMBG, on the Pink cassette of my dad's when I was little. I'd told Apollo that I was gonna rock out to it like when I was 5 and I totally did--I mean I didn't *dance* exactly but I bopped a hell of a lot and it was superfun.

When they were introducing it Flans had Dan Miller play a little of the synthy sound on the keyboard and he said, "The authentic sound of 1986. Original recipe, before extra-crispy." Also, I somehow didn't realize that there's no guitar on it at all--that makes "AWESOME GUITAR SOLO" even better than I thought it was. He did the actual bridge instead of that, but he did it in a silly voice.

When they were doing the explanation of "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" Flans said, "There's so much goodwill right now that we almost feel bad having to do this next part of the show, because it's like goodwill withdrawal." When he pointed the light at the middle of the crowd, he said, "There needs to be a lane of egress...which is a big word for...get out of the way." Later: "This portion of the show is only 14 minutes long, and it is strictly a competition! There is no subtext! There are only two kinds of People and Apes, winning People and Apes and losing People and Apes! Which kind of People are you...and which kind of Apes are you? Are you *psyched?*" The "only 14 minutes long" thing felt about accurate--it's fun to do once or twice, but I really don't think they need to be doing it practically every show *two tours in a row*. I've gotten to where I actually enjoy Flans's explanation of it more than the song.

People won. Flans said it was because they were better funded, and John said, "Apes don't have a lot of ready cash." When the crowd was merging together again, Flans said the Apes would be stealing the People's "street money and phones," and John added, "Opening a joint account in both names."

JL: This next song is from the old-timey days of They Might Be Giants. We used to have mustaches like this [holds hands out like a handlebar mustache] and old-timey hats [holds hands over head].
JF: We were steampunk before those guys.
JL: We had old-timey expressions. I play this song on...the contraptio-nay, remember that?

(JOHN LINNELL HOW ARE YOU THE FUCKING CUTEST?)

Then they did "THEY'LL NEED A CRANE" and it was all that is pure and wonderful in the world again.

When the Avatars were setting up Flans did the voiceover about how it's a rock show via satellite from London. Then the Green Avatar said it was exciting to be here via satellite from "London, France" but that there was an audio lag and so things might not sync up (while, naturally, his mouth movements were not syncing up with his voice).

JF: The show's going too fast!
JL: Press the reverse button.
JF: Press the Benjamin Button.

John was getting his bass clarinet and Flans said they were breaking into schools and stealing high school band instruments, and then they were going to give them back with Save the Music for VH-1, "because studies show if you teach high schoolers music...they will grow up to be deeply embittered and unimportant."

John's strap for the bass clarinet was missing somehow (Flans said it must have been "those Moon Hooch guys"). But he has some kind of rubber stopper on the bottom of it so for the song he played with it resting on one of the cases, which Flans said would make it "very resonant."

Flans said there were signed copies of *Nanobots* for sale "somewhere in the room but we don't know where" and that it was a geocache which is "Where's Waldo for adults."

"Celebration" has always been a song that I could not stand at all but for some reason I almost enjoyed it tonight. I mean, I definitely think it works a lot better live than on the album.

They did the nicknames thing again. John said their psychic ability to sense nicknames is "a pain in the ass," and Flans said it's shared by "that lady from *Taxi*, with the crazy thing...Marilu Henner." Flans said a woman who was "turning crimson" was "Countess Drinkalot," and John said someone *was* Marilu Henner but Flans corrected him with "Marilu Henner's Beard" (presumably it was a guy with a beard). Flans said a person who "had no face" was "Vinylplasty," and for the last one it was apparently the guy John had apologized to about the light earlier. JL: "I can hear it but I can't pronounce it...it's when you're pressing all the keys on a keyboard." Some people were yelling "QWERTY!" and he said, "Not those keys. The top keys. Dollar Sign Asterisk Exclamation Point LOL Too Long Didn't Read." SERIOUSLY, HOW IS HE SO CUTE?

Then Flans said they only had one more song, because after the nicknames bit "we're starting to feel unwelcome here." Then John said, very sincerely, "We should play here every week! I *love* this place. I *love* this place."

During the second encore, Flans said something about how they had trucker hats made that said "My other truck is They Might Be Giants"--"We don't know what that means but we had it put on a trucker hat anyway." I totally thought he was joking but he wasn't so I bought one right away and it's pretty much the best thing ever. He also was telling people about the interview they were doing at SXSW the next day, and he said, "We don't have many transferable skills, but sitting in a chair is one of them."

Quinn
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