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My official version of events.

Thursday, 29 October, 2009

In a Facebook group featuring a recitation of acts which played at Tewligan’s Tavern or the myriad other guises of the building at 1047 Bardstown Road, 40204. These are comments by several people in a few discussions arranged in hopes of providing context. Anyone you recognize here, appeared either before or after their career. With one exception.

Nobody mentioned the Chili Peppers either. Or the night They Might Be Giants made a bunch of new “friends” …

I was referring to the night [TMBG] showed up in an old bus. They had a shit show and blamed everyone but themselves. I seem to recall a story about someone removing the license plate and then calling to report the bus stolen to several agencies between Louisville and their next gig. (St. Louis, I think.)

I remember they came on , and people were yelling Adrian, Adrian, Adrian…the lead singer guy says “who is Adrian?” Adrian was standing next to me..it was a strange show. The previous week Adrian [redacted] had hit Alex Chilton’s tooth with a microphone by mistake…and people were teasing him. Stole the license plates…classic…

Not Adrian or anyone likely to be confused with Adrian:

Yes, I stole the plates off of the They Might be Giants van because they treated everyone like crap. It was Stan’s idea, actually. Then, while they were pulling away I asked them what route they were taking to Nashville. Next I waited about an hour and a half, called the KY state police and said “There is a white van rolling down 64 with no plates and it’s full of weed.”

… By the way, shame on you for pulling a dirty trick like that, and at the same time it is hilarious.

I am completely unashamed.

Some clarifications to this version of events are in order. This night was in the Winter of 1988-89.

The act at that time depended upon taped playback, for which a punk-rock/college bar in Anywhere USA was not at all equipped. After this revelation, and the fact that the bar held merely 350 people, they got pissy. The show started two hours late. That was excellent for bar receipts, however.

Between the scheduling of this tour and their arrival in middle America, TMBG became MTV’s darlings. They had broken as a major national act within the last month or two. With the hindsight of an adult, I realize they thought the entire adventure was beneath them. They were not wrong in this.

The band arrived and departed in a leased, New-York plated Ford Econoline 250. They had no crew.

The following night they were scheduled to play The Wrocklage in Lexington, Kentucky. According to reports from Lexington this seventy-mile drive took about eight hours. They departed Louisville between 1:30 and 3:00 AM. To their credit, they did play that next night. Someone, somewhere, somehow arranged for another vehicle in Lexington. Another van arrived and the de-plated vehicle was towed away.

Only the Louisville police were called. They were called by the bar. The hour was quite late, therefore nothing could be done. For unknown reasons they were allowed by LPD to depart in a wholly unmarked vehicle. According to contemporary accounts no one called any other authority. All you have to do is drive down the interstate in a large, unmarked white van with no plates in the middle of the night and the Kentucky State Troopers, et al are interested. Circumstantial evidence leads this commenter to the conclusion that all their paperwork was in order, despite the absence of plates.

In that era a cold call to the police in the middle of the night would have been ignored as a crank.

“Why don’t you take the plates off their van?” was intended as a wise-ass comment. I am still not absolutely confident who did the deed. I am more careful about my wise-ass comments today, but only just.

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3 Comments
  1. Thursday, 29 October, 2009 19:56

    Maybe it was encounters such as these – with feckless, wrong-headed youths – that got TMBG into churning out bottomless children’s albums. They’re trying to mold a better future out of the pulpy minds of the NPR-kidz set. Shaping kidz that won’t play sadistic pranks on vulnerable touring bands. Kidz very much unlike y’all were.

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    • Thursday, 29 October, 2009 20:48

      We were Satan’s nightmare. Sometimes when I think of what we got up to, I cry myself to sleep. On the other hand, the band seems to have recovered nicely.

      I don’t even know what happened to the actual plates. You’d think someone involved would have saved them.

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      • Thursday, 29 October, 2009 21:03

        Well ^that’s circa-2000 ebay fodder if there ever was such.

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