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Re: TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident

TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident
June 09, 2022 04:37PM
In case anyone hoping to go to one of their upcoming shows hasn't heard, Flansburgh was in a pretty serious accident this week and will be laid up for a while. From the horse's mouth (via the TMBG mailing list):

Greetings from the hospital. I am writing to you with my glasses a crumpled memory, while under a thick cloud of pain medication. In spite of that, I wanted to write to all of you to explain what exactly happened to me.

Last night in a car service on the way my to my apartment after the magnificent Bowery Ballroom show, I was in a rather dramatic car accident. Crossing into an intersection, our car was t-boned by a vehicle going at a very fast speed. The force of the impact actually flipped our car over to its side. While the driver and I oriented ourselves to our new sideways, broken glass and airbag-filled reality, we sensed the ominous smell of motor oil and smoke. Remarkably, just a moment later it seemed, a dozen NYC firemen arrived and set their minds on finding a way to liberate us. To them and the fantastically efficient EMS who whisked us to a trauma center, I will be forever grateful.

While sitting in the CT scan machine, I was working out how much more time I would need to get to DC for the next show in my diminished state. When I explained my plan to the doctor, he explained I had broken seven ribs (a majority of the ribs on my right side) and some of them in multiple places, and I wasn't going to be anywhere but in a bed for the foreseeable future.

While the pain in my side has only gotten worse since, it is my heart that is really breaking over these events. The entire band and crew have been working so hard to create a new show worthy of your interest and your endurance over these miserable COVID years. Last night was such a victory, and with unplayed new songs in the works and rearrangements of older material with the horn section, it was all feeling like a new beginning. But today I am in the hospital. I would understand anyone thinking we are just a band born under a bad sign and giving up hope, but I also know someday we will rock again — and for me, that day couldn’t come soon enough.

Until then I will be watching reruns of Sex in the City until I am strong enough to reach the remote. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.
Re: TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident
June 10, 2022 01:17PM
Considering the risks of touring, to be so injured in a car crash on the way home from a gig in Manhattan to Brooklyn -- on the first night of a long-delayed tour -- is really random and horrible.
Re: TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident
June 10, 2022 02:37PM
The show they planned in DC is of course canceled. I am grateful that it seems like he'll make a full recovery. I have seen TMBG multiple times -- in festivals, in family shows, in clubs, etc. They are one of the few musical acts that my son and I both appreciate and love.
Re: TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident
January 22, 2023 11:37AM
They Might Be Giants
9:30 Club, Washington DC, December 15, 2022

I’ve seen They Might Be Giants in rock clubs with Susan, in outdoor festivals, and in a free kids show at the Kennedy Center with Elliot in 2010, when he was barely two years old and we danced to “Birdhouse in Your Soul” with him on my shoulders.

He’s now a towering 14 1/2 years old, and TMBG was touring for the 30th anniversary of its landmark Flood album, the one that gave the world epics of nerdy and verbose melodicism including “Birdhouse,” “Particle Man,” and the undying “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).” Of course, that 30th anniversary tour was scheduled for 2020 and postponed multiple times due to the pandemic and the car accident that seriously injured John Flansbaugh, and the tour t-shirts were labeled 2020, 2021, and 2022+23.

This was the first time that I took Elliot to a rock club — although not, as noted, the first time I took him to a They Might Be Giants show. Honestly I wasn’t super excited to see TMBG; the last time I saw that at the 9:30 Club was just OK, but Elliot was super into it. It was really delightful watching him experience the ritual of seeing a band at a club for the first time: the fans queuing up outside the door, the ticket check, the security, the merch table, and the crowd lining up near the stage in advance of the headliner. That added substantially to my own enjoyment, even though I was limping from foot surgery and not really in the mood for an energetic rock show.

They Might Be Giants was touring for Flood, but given the kind of band they are, and the kind of record that Flood is, they would not settle for merely playing the record in order with a smattering of other hits. Nay, TMBG did indeed play all of Flood, but not in order, and scattered amidst a wide array of other songs, and one song even sung backwards, filmed, and then rebroadcast in reverse, to mixed results. They actually opened with “Synopsis for Latecomers,” one of the recent tracks from the recent Grammy-nominated (“but not for music!”) Book, which got a respectful showcasing of four songs — no record other than Flood got more than two — in the thirty-song, two-encore show.

This being an “adult” TMBG show and not a “kids” TMBG show, there was some cursing, and jokes about marijuana, but in general, there is no other obvious difference between an adult TMBG and a kids TMBG show. Other than the start time, of course. So in that regard, it was an ideal show to take a nerdy 14-year-old, a genial and almost giddily happy environment of people reliving the joys of their college dorm rooms from the early 1990s. The two Johns were substantially enhanced by an ominously brilliant horn section, which was specifically valuable on “Your Racist Friend”’s trumpet solos and “Dr. Worm,” one of those songs that first appeared on an “adult” TMBG album, Severe Tire Damage, but became better known for its appearances in kids’ cartoons.

Honestly I could probably go without hearing “Particle Man” again, but “Birdhouse in Your Soul” is an all-time great song, and watching Elliot’s delight was infectious, so of course the show was fun. I was surprised by how many of the lesser-known tracks from Flood are still imprinted in my memory decades later, showing the craft of John and John’s compositional skills. I always thought it was funny how TMBG were regarded primarily as comic when a lot of their best songs were miserable odes to romantic desperation — but on that note, Flansburgh and Linnell loudly and vocally rejected requests for “Ana Ng,” perhaps the band’s greatest single lyrical and melodic triumph. Hilariously downtrodden songs like “Lucky Ball and Chain,” “Number 3,” and “Road Movie to Berlin” (a Wim Wenders joke, one presumes, despite the culturally ignorant genius.com references?) were contrasted by the thrill of new love in the joyous “New York City” — an indie cover, from the Vancouver cuddlecore band Cub, reminding one that TMBG also name checked the dBs, Young Fresh Fellows, and did whole songs about being in the Replacements and contrasting XTC and Adam Ant.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2023 07:01PM by zwirnm.
Re: TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident
January 22, 2023 02:34PM
Thanks muchly, zwirnm, well done. But why is “Flood”considered a “landmark” release? Because “birdhouse” was a bit of a hit?
To my ears, it’s of a piece with everything they did, up to their misfire “John Henry.” Their stellar debut up thru possibly their most accomplished/ambitious album of their early years, “Apollo 18.”

It occurs to me that apart from a couple of their kids album played for Li’l Fab, I haven’t heard much of what they’ve done in like 20 years. Have any of you?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2023 06:18PM by MrFab.
Re: TMBG's John Flansburgh in car accident
January 22, 2023 04:18PM
Flood is certainly their best selling record overall although I was partial to the stuff they did on Bar-None Records, including “Ana Ng” and the stuff compiled on Best of the Early Years. I liked Apollo 18, OK, at least although I recall it being scattershot. More recently I think my kid loves “The Communists Have the Music” and “Synopsis” and other internet singles but like all younger folks he mostly gets music in streaming rather than owning full albums.
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