Best Gig Ever: Band Response

PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in November 2004 about a week after our “Best Gig Ever” project. The This American Life episode about this project first aired in April of 2005 and has recently been rerun. While you’re here, please check out our more recent projects.

“I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have one life to live, and I choose to forever believe in what I felt that night. It’s my memory, and just because I was told it wasn’t real, doesn’t mean it didn’t feel real TO ME. What do I care just as long as I had a GREAT TIME?”

-Chris Partyka, GOP

It didn’t take long for Ghosts of Pasha (GOP) to figure out what had happened to them. We figured GOP would find the site sooner or later. A simple Google search of their own name would surely lead them to it eventually.

As it turns out, they found the site only a few hours after it was posted. Someone on our mailing list must have forwarded the link on to the band. It seems some of the members of GOP are from the New York / New Jersey area originally, and a few friends of IE are also friends of GOP. Small world.

A few days later GOP frontman Milo Finch emailed us a complete mission report from all four band members. Enjoy!

AGENT MILO FINCH (Vocals, Keys, Guitar)
As I drove home from the “best gig ever” the night was so aptly summed up by our guitar player when he said, “that was as creepy and unsettling as watching someone get hit in the back of the head with a pool cue and their eye popping out and rolling into the corner pocket.”

So you could imagine our relief from the strange felling when we found out what had really happened.

I was very hung over when I showed up to that show that night and really didn’t even feel like playing. But once we got into the swing of things is was business as usual for the band.

I couldn’t really see the crowd because of the lights in my eyes, so I never had a chance to see the fake tattoos and t-shirts. That would have been a big tip off to something being extremely wrong with the scene.

I have since been sent reeling into a paranoia questioning every person that I see. I even wrestled my waitress to the ground the other day because she seemed to be a little over zealous while taking my order.

I just want to say one thing to the “fans” that showed up that night: You know and I know that when the onstage tea bag happened you all rushed the stage out of pure rock and roll frenzy.

We rocked the place that night and you know it.

Thanks for a great night. I hope by the end of it all we really won you over as some true fans. Hope to see you again at one of our upcoming NYC shows.

This whole thing proves that all you need to do is put a few screaming fans in front of the Ghosts of Pasha and it won’t be long before we whip our cocks out and rock out.

Thanks -mf-

I thought it was great, just when we needed people to come out to a show, you guys came through.

I knew something was up right away I wasn’t “caught unawares”.

I could tell there was some acting going on.

Chicken fighting? Fake tattoo? Come on! It was our second gig in NYC :}

Plus, have you ever been to a rock show in NYC? From the simple fact that you weren’t standing there staring with your arms folded raised a red flag.

I just moved out of the city a couple of months ago.

Who knows, maybe we know some of the same people!!! (wink,wink) Spread the word–we are. Check out this week’s issue of STEPPING OUT, I think you will find it interesting

See you all at Sin-‘e For the GLASTA OF PASHA show 8:00pm

over and out
agent E-z-money, GOP

Congrats to Improv Everywhere!

I don’t really care. I play the bass.
Ghosts of Pasha/Rock Beat!!!!
I go into the club.

Thanks B

First of all let me say that I had a great time and I have no negative feelings about this. This is also not the first time this has happened…We played a show a few months ago in Vermont where there were 100+ people chanting pasha,(really! it was so much fun..) and they were just as rowdy as you guys…you weren’t half as drunk as they were though…at least that I know of.. We just love to play and get really into it always…it just seemed unlikely that people in nyc, even though were from there(and our website at one point was #14 on know lyrics to songs that aren’t on the net…fortunately we were in the spirit of things and we aren’t jaded enough yet that we would stop the show and ask if it was a joke…we didn’t do it at our first 100+ show in Vermont and we would never stop a show anyway…its just too much fun.. Second, let me assure anyone reading the guestbook for improv everywhere that no one from this band would ever write in and be angry about this. Milo and I have backgrounds in theatre…you’d probably find if you hung out with us that we’re alot alike..*(except for that guy agent V, whom I heard really loves the band PHISH)

So any negative stuff you read there is not from us. Everyone seemed very nice. Its too bad that I’m very stage shy normally and never look at the crowd. Eho knows how excited I would have been if I saw makeshift ghosts of pasha tees. I might have even made eye contact with someone.

I read that someone posting in your guestbook was upset at you guys. That’s kind of stupid. We will take any exposure willingly given to us and we are very grateful to have been punk’d by the likes of you cats. Like I’ve already mentioned, we are all solid people and were strong enough to see this for what it is, which is a rocking good time had by all that just happened to start as a joke. We don’t care. I play because I love to, and we were feeding off of it and it made for a great show. So, everyone wins! I’ll close by saying this: Wouldn’t be great if there really were an outlet for Indie rockers and Hipsters to scream out their suppressed rage…football game style? Wouldn’t it be great if Indie rockers and hipsters could forget feeling self-conscious and just go “bat-shit?” I motion that we voluntarily vent our quiet Indie rock angst when we go see our favorite bands…fuck what everyone around thinks…just yell! Just dance! I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have one life to live, and I choose to forever believe in what I felt that night…it’s my memory, and just because I was told it wasn’t real, doesn’t mean it didn’t feel real TO ME. What do I care just as long as I had a GREAT TIME, and thanks to your improv troupe, I really did…Because honestly even though I would have pounded those songs out and still put my heart into it to 3 people like I always do. It was nice to trade energy with an adoring crowd, albeit a “fake” one…

Thanks, Chris


Agent Chris Partyka also posted the following in the Improv Everywhere guestbook:

You guys should make t-shirts and other memorabilia. I’d really like a t-shirt or a sticker that says something like “I’ve been punk’d by Improv Everywhere”. You guys are talented. I wish I wasn’t so shy when I play and that I looked up more. I don’t really have any memories to share with my band mates about it. I just played off of Milo’s reactions to you guys and stuck to that the whole time. Milo definitely has alot of specific moments he’s talked about. I think you guys helped show me that I shouldn’t shoe gaze so much. The point is though, our fire and energy originally comes from us, and then added in is whatever is going on around us filtered through Milo and our perceptions. What happened at Merc was perfect, intrinsically.

Ghosts of Pasha updated their website with a link to our report:

Improv Everywhere wishes Ghosts of Pasha the best of luck in all of their upcoming gigs. Be sure to visit their website to download their newest mp3’s and find out about their upcoming gigs. Long live GOP!


The remaining two members of Ghosts of Pasha play the IE 5th Anniversary Show nearly two years after this mission:

Written by Charlie


  1. you didn’t accurately report the band’s response, especially right after the concert and apparently for a while afterward.

    “This American Life” aired the true nature of what happened to the unsuspecting band members after this mindfuck.

    Leave people alone.

  2. The Ghosts of Pasha should get some great publicity out of this. I told my kids about it and we plan to visit their website and check out their music.
    But I really think you should cease and desist from “Improv “pranks on individuals, like this one and Ted’s birthday. It’s one thing when you do something in public for an audience to observe, like LOOK UP MORE, and the Depantsing. I think it’s cruel to do something to a specific individual, or small group of specific individuals.

  3. I can’t help but think this all is a bunch of mental masturbation for people who can’t think of anything really productive to do. At least the Ghosts of Pasha were out there putting their creativity and passion on the line. Whereas members of this improv group, safe in their own glib hipness, never have to risk anything. Po-mo is dead beacuse it never lived.

  4. I loved the bassist’s reaction. A friend of mine plays bass for a local band here in Dallas Texas. “I don’t really care. I play the bass.” That’s just classic!

    Something that I’ve noticed for years was echoed in the drummer’s sentiments: “From the simple fact that you weren’t standing there staring with your arms folded raised a red flag.” We have the same shoegazing tendencies here in north Texas. Great bands with lukewarm reaction from the audience. Maybe the problem’s not that this one incident was proof that we should “leave people alone” as Kate put it. Maybe when people go to concerts for local bands they should behave like this every time. Let the guys up there know that their effort is appreciated. I’m guilty of shoegazing myself cuz it’s embarrassing to be the only one jumping up and down and really getting into the music, but if twenty or more people showed up with a mutual agreement to just go in some place and get their groove on and have a good time, then you got yourselves a party. The bands don’t suck. We the audience sucks. What’s the harm in a little planned mayhem, if everybody has a good time? =)

  5. So the band decided to get pissed off about the “Best Gig Ever” almost 6 months later? Lame lame lame. Grow up, boys. You’ve had nothing but positive exposure as a result of the exploits of Improv Everywhere. You should be grateful. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

  6. Illiterate much? How can you people post here saying that the band didn’t appreciate it when they stated they CLEARLY did on the response page?! I don’t know why people get so up in arms about these stunts. They are intended to spread positive vibes, and let everyone have a good time. Is there anything on this site that indicates they are making fun of their “victims?” They didn’t choose the band because they thought they sucked, and wanted to be meanspirited. They even said they liked the music! I wouldn’t be surprised if GOP did gain a few fans because of this incident. I certainly know who they are now.

  7. I read this mission and downloaded the mp3 at the end of the report…and was like OMG because I’ve heard “New York New York” before! I can’t remember where, but it may have been in a friend’s car last year. Awesome!

  8. I experience this sort of phenomena, but spontaneousely, at a Harvey Danger concert in Lawrence, KS. The crowd was totally not into it for some reason. 100 people had shown up but were just sitting around drinking.

    The lead singer was kind of disgusted and jumped off stage and sat on the floor facing the stage. I then had the strange urge to jump out and fop down next to him. He just looked at me and got back onto the stage.

    By the middle of the show, I and some drunk guy rallied the ambivalent college town goons into a moshing frenzy. Pretty cool. Thanks for making me remember that.

  9. Hopefully someone will pull off the ultimate mindfuck on the prank masterminds. To claim that there was any "giving" of a great gig to this band, illustrates the dishonesty that the maestro shows to himself.

    Doing a looping performance at starbucks is one thing. Screwing intentionally with the emotions and reputation of others in this regard, is quite another.

  10. So I listened to "This American Life" and came to this website, and I have to admit, I’m totally baffled by the complete contradiction between the band’s response here and the one in the story that aired. I can understand that GOP might well have rethought their earlier reactions, but it isn’t clear that this is the case. How about a follow-up note from someone in the group that explains what’s up with this? Inquiring minds would like to know…

  11. What a bunch of crap. I have read through EVERY single mission and realized that this group is awesome. GOP has a quote from Improv Everywhere on their website RIGHT NOW. Obviously they were not hurt by this publicity. I think they would be worse off if only 3 people showed up for their set. Chris aka "Ted" and GOP were only looking for more publicity when they jumped on the TAL broadcast. Both of them lost any kind of credibility with me after that…

  12. been looking over the site, and this one caught my eye. At one point I may have agreed with the other posters about this possibly being cruel, but hey, it got me to the bands website, I am downloading every mp3 off it, and enjoying it. So for those of you that thought this was cruel, maybe you should ask the band how their popularity has done since, and odds are it has improved.

  13. I have no idea what "This American Life" is, but frankly I can’t say I have much interest in finding out. IE and GOP both say directly that they all had a great time on their own websites, a third source comes in and says they didn’t? Personally until I see evidence to the contrary I’m more inclined to believe that "This American Life", whatever it is, is trying to grab ratings through hatemongering.

  14. No need to worry, "This American Life" is a show about interesting life stories told in a journalistic way. They also admit in their about/"Never heard us?" page that they include elements of fiction in their shows. It is clear that GOP’s and "Ted’s" stories in their program were sensationalized in order to draw in more ratings. End result? Their show and IE (and GOP, of course) get more public exposure, and a minority feels offended (what a surprise!). The rest of us enjoy the show and gain a bit of wisdom from it all.

  15. I have read your account of the Best Gig Ever mission. I have read the band’s account. I have been to their website, heard their music, and watched the video, with its clever references to the Best Gig Ever, and its coverage by the media. Then I went to the This American Life website and listened to their report on "Mind Games".

    My conclusion: I like the GOP. The performers are likable and genuine, and their music is heartfelt and well-played. With their first effort, the band has proved itself to be a strong starter.

    Improv Everywhere is brilliant. Ingenious. And, unlike other prominent public pranksters I could name, there is nary a drop of meanspiritedness in anything they do. Their purpose is clearly to provide unexpected, magical experiences to unsuspecting, innocent humanfolk. That, they do, and (I might add) without malice or mockery.

    Nowhere in all of this is there a single critical word about the band’s musical skills, or even their popularity. They were chosen because they were a young band, and therefore sufficiently obscure that the sudden deluge of adulation would come as a shock. Unless I am missing something, the GOP’s performance, and their music, was reportedly entertaining and enjoyable to all, and now many, many people beyond that little club know this, as well. Their web address, too. So where is the harm?

    Well, if there is a downside to be perceived, an ulterior motive to be construed, a dark aspect to be speculated upon, we can certainly trust the high-minded souls at NPR to unearth it for all to cluck disparagingly at. My conclusion regarding This American Life is that they are a gaggle of sanctimonious prigs who, if they ever laugh at anything at all, do it with their mouths closed, their lips pursed, and their butts tightly clenched.

    IE, on the other hand, offers wonderful, transcendent experiences to those who would keep their heads out of their posteriors (or turn down their ominous background music)long enough to perceive them.

    Keep it up, IE! The world needs you!

  16. In my humble opinion, this scene had the potential to screw up horribly. If GOP had called you on the stunt, or stopped playing, or even gone ballistic on agents, it could’ve been traumatic. Instead, faced with a crowd ten times better than they had any right to expect, they did what a rock band should do.

    They ROCKED.

    That, to me, says ‘Mission Accomplished’ in the end.

  17. I couldn’t find a description of the mission. So here it is:

    The band has never played in NYC before. IE studies the band, and they all prepare to be fans rockin’ out to GOP. On the night of the concert, IE is in the crowd just rockin’ it and digging everything the band does.

  18. I could yak on for a novel about the merits of this mission. IE went to the gig with positive intentions, and those intentions paid off with an awesome gig, and a bit of exposure to the band.

    All you naysayers are exactly the reason why IE is so vital. Unlike you, IE spreads positive vibes instead of negativity. They create stories instead of criticisms. They do things instead of sitting around complaining. IE aren’t the people who need to "get lives"…you are.

    And if you want to be "left alone" so badly, get the hell of the general population and live on a desert island. Believe me, your negativity will NOT be missed.

  19. Ok, let’s say that GOP has no hard feelings about the mission. The logic behind this mission and others like it (Ted) is still twisted. The claim is that GOP had the best gig ever—no, they didn’t. The best gig ever would be if REAL fans came to the show and loved it. The band obviously showed genuine emotion out there on stage, something most people could never do. And IE faked being fans (sure, maybe some really liked the music, I’m sure not all of them and that’s not why they were there). And you thought they’d enjoy that because…?
    Stunts like this are creepy at best, at narcissistic and just fucked up worst. How about keeping mission involvement on a ‘volunteer only’ basis, so people just out there having a beer with a friend (Ted) don’t end up as part of your evening’s entertainment?

  20. There seems to be a bit of a schism over the reaction of GOP in the TAL program. In the end, no one was upset and they said so. They pointed out that their initial reactions were one set of events, and the settling into different ways of perceiving the event occurred with the passage of time. The point of view taken by TAL is basically an investigation into whether this was “playing with” reality or a “reality check”, or whether there are all kinds of “selective” realities being employed or lived out in peoples own minds. I don’t think IE made any attempt to be cruel, but in not trying to have a moral/ethical insight into what this kind of thing COULD do to someone’s psyche after they find out, I think could boil down to playing with people’s heads while ignoring the possible consequences. (A little socially irresponsible… ) The saddest thing is that even though it was an amazing feeling for the band and that they can make a choice, as good sports, to see it as something good, ultimately it was NEVER REAL! That has to smart, eh?

  21. It was NEVER REAL?!?! Am I the only one that has ever been to a rock show and gotten caught up in the “mosh pit mentality” even if I didn’t really dig the band that much? For argument’s sake let’s say this happens to, say, 1/3 of the people at your average rock show. Does that mean that 1/3 of the audience is faking it, not really having any fun, and that the band should be pissed off at them for screwing with their heads?

    I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s close enough. From what I’ve read the IE agents, although starting out faking, really got into the show and had a really good time. Just like me in the “mosh pit mentality” scenario. I may not have really dug the band as much as some others, but I still had a really good time once I got into it.

    In my book, band rocking out + people having good time = successful show. Who cares why they were there. It could just as easily have been 100 guys that were drug in by their significant others against their will instead of a group of IE agents. As long as they ended up having a good time then everybody wins.

  22. The best gig ever happened about 3 years ago, and since then the band Ghosts of Pasha has changed quite a bit. I am obviously a fan of the group (there are some) even though i have not actually met them.

    At this particular point, the “guitarist” Chris Partyka has been singing and playing clarinet on the recordings for over a year, and the band has changed their manifesto from seemingly coasting on exploitation “fame” (2004) to recording noteworthy slacker clarinet beatles fodder but kind of sucking live (2006) to actually sounding energetic and even cool on recordings AND live, resulting in a single released on real label DARLA records and even an EP to be released later on. (2007)

    I hate to come off like such a salesman, but it seems to me like an awful lot of people are still discussing something that happened 3 years ago and not paying attention to what the band is doing at present. Anyone can easily peek in by going to

  23. the band was upset not at IMPROVEVERYWHERE but at rollingstone, spin, and the media for perpetuating the lie that troubles for the band STOPPED a few days after the stunt. in reality the band has been hidden from the spotlight NOW, just as it is beginning to come into its own.kudos to IE for helping expose them, even if it was too early.

    its quite a shame really that 2008 GOP wasnt in spin and on showtime.

  24. What I think is most interesting about those who strongly criticized this mission is the dripping sanctimoniousness of their comments. Newsflash, guys: it’s not up to you, a third party, to play self-appointed mother.

    Also, the band did go out to that particular gig with the intention of performing. Anyone who has performed (theatrically or, in my case, musically) knows that performing always puts your emotions right on the line. Performing is *always* risky, emotionally. People who can’t stand the heat normally stay out of the kitchen.

    I agree that IE has a *positive* philosophy, and I congratulate IE on that and the fact that they actually have the guts to go out and perform random acts of fun and joy. Multiple times.

    IMHO it’s the armchair quarterbackers who always judge but never act (hypocrites) that we actually have to worry about.

    I must say, in my entire life on the internet so far (since the days of BITNET) I don’t think I’ve seen a more enjoyable web site than this one. keep up the great work. Kudos to IE!

  25. For the record, and for all those criticizing IE’s actions, allow me to pull from my own experiences performing when I say even if it’s a “fake” crowd, it’s still a crowd. I’ve played and performed for dead audiences before. It’s always disheartening to see that no one is having a good time, it’s just a bunch of people looking impatiently at their watches, hitting the bar or just standing there looking bored as all hell. But even if there’s just one person who shouts “YEAH! ROCK ON!” at the end of your set, it feels like an accomplishment, even if they weren’t fans. So I’m supportive of IE in this, in helping a band rock out when they have a load of dead audiences left to play to.

  26. I’m glad that Improv Everywhere decided to act on this mission. Not only is it embarrassing to play at an empty venue; it’s also frustrating and a little pathetic. Whether or not the “victims” like it, the act did give them FREE EXPOSURE that only helps them spread their band’s name to others. This kind of publicity would cost thousands to get via magazine articles or by any other kind of public means.
    And what’s this about mind F*&&^%g? (Censored for your enjoyment) The Band didn’t seem to mind, IE did nothing mentally or physically harmful, and so therefore any responses by those dense thickheaded idiots are only trivial.
    Oh and btw: I live in a small town in OHIO and now even I KNOW about them. How’s that for free publicity?

  27. I think TAL’s goal is to antagonize IE. I mean, seriously. Leave them alone. They were trying to make a band that might have not been as confident feel appreciated and enjoyed.

    They succeeded.

    Isn’t that a good thing?

    It wasn’t intended as a ‘prank’. It wasn’t intended to make fools out of GOP. It was supposed to make people happy–that’s what the goal of all the IE missions are: a smile, a laugh.

    I personally think that what IE did for GOP was a fabulous and kind thing. (I think I might listen to their music now…)


  28. I heard their initial response to it on the radio! :D I was reading the original mission page, and I’m like, that wasn’t really IE, was it? and I couldn’t remember the name of the band so I couldn’t match the names.

    But when I saw the bit about Agent V climbing on stage and whispering “Thank you… thank you…” to the singer, I’m like, OMFG IT WAS IE AND GOP. because the band was describing that scene on the radio story! I mean, WOW! Small world! I love you guys. All of you. I love what you do, and I wish I lived in NYC with you. ^^

  29. ehmilio wrote:
    “They also admit in their about/”Never heard us?” page that they include elements of fiction in their shows. It is clear that GOP’s and “Ted’s” stories in their program were sensationalized in order to draw in more ratings”

    Really? I don’t see that. Interesting since This American Life is on public radio so it doesn’t even deal with ratings.

    And to David Douglas Drummond, thanks for your gross generalization about NPR. Since This American Life is produced for PRI, not for its competitor NPR, perhaps the folks at This American Life would agree.