Saturday, February 16, 2013

Naaa, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na

February 15, 2012 - Lincoln Theatre - Raleigh, NC

This show was a very special one for me because it was my 100th time seeing They Might Be Giants. I will be really honest and say that it wasn't the best show on the tour. It wasn't the funniest or the best performed, didn't feature the best setlist. But in terms of personal significance, it far outstripped the others. Everyone, from the band, to the crew, to my fellow fans had a part in making it a very special night for me from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. I absolutely couldn't ask for a better group of people to spend 100 gigs with.

Prior to leaving on this trip, I had made myself a special shirt to wear to this show. The shirt I had made for my 50th show had been extremely popular, so I felt like I had to top that one. So this time around I did a plain white one that said 100th Show on the front. And on the back I wrote the dates and cities of all 100 gigs I had attended. I realized part way through the trip that I was going to freeze wearing a short sleeve shirt at this show, and I stopped on my way to Charlotte and bought a long sleeve thermal to wear under it.

TMBG 2/15/12 #44

I headed to the Lincoln Theatre in the late afternoon with Rebecca. John was finishing some work and joined us later as did our friends Heather and Jim, who joined us at this show. (As did Susan, whom I met at the gig in Charlotte and has since joined our motley crew). But when we first arrived, it was just Rebecca and I. We could tell we were in the right place because Dan was standing outside talking on his cell phone. We started a line by the door and let him have his privacy.

A few minutes later Dan walked up to us as he headed to the door of the theater and stopped to say hi. "How many is this for you? he asked me." By way of response, I unzipped my hoodie to show him the front of my T-shirt. "Whoa!" said Dan, looking truly impressed. I asked him if he would sign my shirt. He said "sure" and moved around back of me, assuming I guess that I'd want him to sign the back. I dropped the back of my hoodie down to reveal all the dates I had written on the back. "Oh wow! I'm not signing over that!" he said. "It's okay, you can," I replied. "No way," said Dan, "you did all that by hand!" He instead chose to sign my sleeve. "Do you have my email?" he asked. I was a little flabbergasted trying to figure out a) why he was asking and b) why he thought I would have his email. I told him no. He explained that for attending 100 shows he thought I should get some free tickets and he would hook me up if I contacted him. I told him I had access to Danny and Marty on Facebook (forgetting temporarily that I also have the ability to message him on Facebook, which is how we have communicated before) and he said that was fine, just to send them a message and they'd put me on the guest list. I have yet to take him up on this offer, because I already had tickets to the rest of the shows they had scheduled at that time. And it feels a little out of date to ask now. But it was still super cool of him to offer. He headed off inside the theater after that, and I stayed behind, rather stunned at what a good start my 100th show had gotten off to. I mean, what were the odds that he would walk up and ask "How many is this for you?" on just that day? Freaky cool.

The rest of our crew joined us not long after and we spent a pleasant few hours on the sidewalk of the Lincoln Theatre. We got to hear soundcheck. And at one point while I happened to be looking in the window, Flans came out to the lobby (I ducked back rather quickly). He picked up a piece of paper and departed. We eventually figured out that he had grabbed a schedule of the upcoming acts for the venue, we assumed, to update the lyrics to the Raleigh venue song. We had been speculating about whether they would just the original lyrics, which were a list of the upcoming acts at the time, or replace them with the current upcoming acts. We also briefly saw Marty giving a tour to his podcast partner, the "Professor" of The Drummer and the Professor.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle getting into the theater, as John and Rebecca were using their IFC tickets and they had the wrong list at the door. Can't even tell you how glad I am they didn't do tickets in this year's IFC as they were nothing but stressful and I think I was only at one venue where they weren't delayed or screwed up in some way. It got sorted fairly quickly and Scott was very apologetic and nice, but still, I am glad that ticketing adventure is over.

The JoCo setlist: Code Monkey - Sticking It To Myself - Mandelbrot Set - Good Morning Tucson - Still Alive - Je Suis Rick Springfield - Shop Vac - Re: Your Brains - I Feel Fantastic

Some kind soul put most of the JoCo set on YouTube which helps my memory enormously. None of the banter was particularly unique, with the same song explanations that I had heard repeatedly accompanying most of the songs. My favorite little bit of banter was after Mandelbrot set. "That song was about math. *pause* There are a bunch of you out there now going 'Ooooohhhh.'"

JoCo 2/15/12 #1

For the first time this tour, Jonathan brought one of the vinyl copies of Artificial Heart on stage with him so he could plug it. He explained that it had been part of his Level 4 package and since we were not Level 4 he had crossed out the part on the cover that said "Level 4 Participant." They were also signed by him and "The Coultonaires" as he referred to his band. Adam made him show off the record itself too which is transparent orange vinyl. Adam also pointed out that you needed a turntable to play it. "Yes," said Jonathan. "It requires special equipment." And then he reached down and handed the record to me saying "Will you take this for me." I tried to tell him I already had one (being a Level 4 Participant myself) but he said it was alright, I could have it anyway. Big grin from me.

The TMBG setlist: Raleigh - When Will You Die - Celebration - Birdhouse In Your Soul - Judy Is Your Viet Nam - Damn Good Times - Never Knew Love - The Guitar - Battle for the Planet of the Apes - Old Pine Box - Cowtown - Snowball in Hell - Mr. Me - Ana Ng - S-E-X-X-Y - Careful What You Pack - Pandor - Paranoid - Spoiler Alert - Cloisonné - Withered Hope - We Live In A Dump - James K. Polk - The Mesopotamians - Fingertips Encore - How Can I Sing Like A Girl? - Can't Keep Johnny Down Encore 2 - Where Your Eyes Don't Go - Istanbul

Despite Flans collecting the schedule, they did Raleigh with the original lyrics. Maybe those bands just worked better syllabically. Afterward Flans commented that Who's Bad, who are mentioned in the song, we playing there again in a few weeks. Apparently, they are a Michael Jackson cover band. Linnell suggested that they play there every month. I think Flans was just entertained by their name.

The Snowball in Hell bridge just keeps getting longer with Paul going on and on about how much time he spends watching Joe. He doesn't go home anymore. He doesn't sleep. He just stands outside Joe's window watching the TV. I also love the seriously evil way in which the puppet took to saying "I'm stiiiilllllllllll on itttttttt," at the end of the routine. And true to form, Flans started up the song again with the wrong lyrics. Which he always did. Almost without fail, he would use "side effect or drug trip" in that last verse, instead of "avalanche or road block." It got to be a bit of a joke in our crew, waiting to see if he ever got in right. I don't know that he did.

They made a few references to playing Lincoln songs at the Lincoln Theatre. I think someone asked why they didn't do a Lincoln show at the Lincoln Theatre but I don't remember what the answer was. Either that they thought that would be too much, or that they just hadn't thought of it.

Before one of the songs, Snowball maybe, where Dan plays acoustic, Flans introduced him and Linnell said "Dan Miller looks something like this," and pointed at Dan. It was odd but I thought it was funny.

At some point in the show, Flans brought out one of the Join Us vinyls to plug. He had actually been doing it pretty consistently, though I don't think I had mentioned it. I believe he used his standard joke about people mistaking it for a calendar. And then he gifted it to me. It was an odd moment for me, because I could tell he was going to do it, before he moved to hand it to me, because he was looking at me out of the corner of his eye while he was talking. I was pretty excited, partly for the acknowledgement, and partly because I think I tend to be pretty deliberately looked over when it comes to Flans passing out things from the stage, like the records, posters, even the nicknames they throw out. Let me be clear that I am not complaining. I get the motivation entirely, behind not wanting to draw attention to the one who is always there. Much better to give that thrill to someone who is just there for that one show and I prefer it that way. It actually made the gift more special for me, so I am very grateful. Thanks Flansy!

Speaking of nicknames, early in the show, the Johns had called attention to the people who were watching the show from the stairs that led up to the balcony. They made some jokes about them looking like the Brady Bunch. And when it came to doing the nicknames at the end of the show, Flans dubbed them The Stair Family, an indie group on a Canadian label.

Rather than having Dan do an acoustic intro to Istanbul, he and Flans did a rather nifty electric intro riff while the rest of the band played some background music. It was a nice change of pace and I really liked the sound.

After the show, the band left the stage (of course), but almost immediately, Danny came back out and walked right up to me and asked if he could sign me shirt. "Of course!" says I. He picked the other sleeve to sign on, then asked if I wanted him to sign my record too. I handed that over. And then I stupidly attempted to take his Sharpie from him. I am so used to having to give them mine that I forgot he had brought it with him. And with me still all flustered and feeling dumb about my mistake, he reached out to give me a hug and kissed me on the cheek. I just about dropped dead on the floor. No joke. As you can see from this video, I look so ridiculously happy afterward that it cheers me up every time I watch it.

At some point in all this Marty came by and shook my hand. Then Mr. Brunette handed me a setlist and said "Happy Birthday," the goof. And Victor came out with a little package he had made for me that contained all of the setlists from the tour dates I had missed between LA and Florida. I managed to flag Marty back down after he had handed out his sticks and signed things for some other people and asked him to sign my shirt too. He debated for a bit about where to sign as the Dans had taken the easy spots and settled on a spot that ended up being right on my collar bone. He commented on how difficult it was to write on such a bumpy spot. I also got him to sign both of my vinyls since he plays on the JoCo one too.

And then I walked out in a deliriously happy haze. I had gone in to the day vaguely hoping I might be able to get one or two of the guys to sign my shirt. And I walked out with a better experience than I ever could have asked for. It was so much fun and I felt so very, very appreciated which was extremely nice. I am so grateful to have such an amazing band full of truly awesome people and the means to spend as much time watching them perform as I have. I was really struck, as I drove back to my hotel that night, by just how lucky I am in that. I hope I never come to take it for granted.

TMBG 2/15/12 #40

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