It was all going so well. After a rousing opener by Jonathan Coulton, hometown heroes They Might Be Giants played a thunderous set to a packed house filled with local fans. Deep in the pit, our photographer was setting up one of the trickiest shots of any concert shoot: the keyboardist from below. Just then, like a bolt of pure satori thrown off by Dan Miller's lightning fast fingers, it came: a mic stand, perhaps jostled by the bass on "Dr. Worm," or thrown by one of the band members (who can be sure?) came flying off the stage, smack into the business end of our camera. Suddenly Dan Miller was there beside us in the pit whispering (either "Jesus, man, are you alright?" or "Ha, I really nailed you with that one!"—it was hard to tell, as the rest of the band played on). Miraculously, both camera and photographer emerged unscathed, alive to witness the triumphant double-encore end of the current TMBG tour.
Our photographer was too shaken to relate any other details, but luckily TMBG-superfan John Del Signore was stationed in the crowd. He filed this annotated set list:
Cow Town (introduced as the first song TMBG ever recorded. The band formed in 1982, making this something of a 30th anniversary show.)
Mr. Me (a bit of a rarity)
Clap Your Hands
Can't Keep Johnny Down
Damn Good Times (sensational Dan Miller guitar solo... projected on giant screen behind stage: video of a businessman's lap, holding some sort of booklet... between songs both Johns became perplexed by the photographers continued presence in the pit. Linnell: "Are you guys professional photographers, or did you just jump over into the pit?" Flansburgh: "We're very glad to be here for the first time. We heard what about happened to Terminals 1 - 4." Linnell, gazing out at the room: "Did they build boats in here?" ... At this point, someone threw something onto the audience from one of the balconies. Flansburgh: "Please respect the people below you, creepy fuckers throwing shit.")
Snowball in Hell (Sock Puppet interlude featured the Johns reeanacting the sample heard during the studio version of this song: "The dialogue during the bridge comes from a LP/tape called "How to Master Time Organization" released in 1961 by Success Motivation Institute, Inc. and featuring the expertise of someone named Paul J. Meyer.")
Ana Ng (played with a particularly dark vengeance)
Careful What You Pack (Followed by attempt to "recreate an atmosphere of total intolerance" by bifurcating audience with a flashlight down the middle of the room to separate the "people" from the "apes." The Johns then pitted the two sides against each other, leading each side in a fist-pumping "people" vs "apes" chant. In the end, the People won. Go people.)
Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover... Song was followed by a shout out to TMBG's new corporate underwriter, a pharmaceutical company that produces a drug called Pandor, whose side-effects include "causing someone to say, 'Look at this beautiful audience.'" Then a strange Avator of They sock puppet interlude, featuring a cameo from the Supreme Court. The sock puppets thanked John Coulton for letting them ride in his van. "TMBG didn't want us around because we ate all the cookies.")
Crazy Train (incomplete, Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Lie Still Little Bottle (Linnell on bass clarinet. Flansburgh: "The bass clarinet is listed as rock and roll's most endangered species by National Geographic.")
Sleestacks (Flans directed the audience to this YouTube video.)
Don't Let's Start
We Live in a Dump
Where Your Eyes Don't Go
New York City
Spy (Mark Pender shined on trumpet)
Dr Evil (sung by Flansburgh's wife Robin Goldwasser, who asked the audience, "So, did you have a good Purim?"... After the song, TMBG announced a free show in April outside a public library in Princeton NJ, in honor of Record Store Day)
Dr. Worm (Dan Miller's mic mysteriously "falls" onto Jake... Since none of the bouncers standing around can be bothered to put it back, Miller jumps down into the pit to retrieve it. Go Terminal 5!)
When You Die
How Can I Sing Like a Girl?
Was it worth risking our lives to deliver this report? Yes, yes it was.