TMBG concert instant review
Written 7 April 2003
So, yeah, I went to the They Might Be Giants show and it was QUITE GOOD.
Some stuff I remember:
They did a bunch of songs from 'No', including 'Clap Your Hands', which was a nice number to do in a concert, because it involves the audience, particularly after the 'Jump In The Air' verse:
Jump in the air!
Another song that they did from 'No' was 'Supertaster'. Afterwards John Flansburgh said that it was based on a TRUE STORY he heard on NPR, so you knew it had to be TRUE. Then he said that his friend John Lee really was a supertaster, which he knew because he had been to dinner with him and it was like eating dinner with a four-year-old.
Towards the end of the show they did 'Violin'. Then Flansburgh said that he had always thought that 'avant garde' was French for 'bullshit', but that this song had revealed to him that art rock was really a lot of FUN, and that he no longer was going to be DOMINATED by the form of the 2 1/2 MINUTE POP SONG. So the next song they did was 'Fingertips', all of it. It was weird to sing along to a song like that in a concert environment, especially since other members of the audience were also singing along.
One segment of Fingertips was particularly noteworthy: the 'I'm Having A Heart Attack' segment, which was sung by Linnell with commentary by Flansburgh something like this:
L: I'm having a heart attack ...
Flansburgh told a little anecdote. He said that when he was coming to the show he stopped by the Starbucks near the hotel and there were a bunch of people hanging out there who seemed to be sort of reenacting Friends. As he left he heard one of the guys say, 'I really need to get a JOB.' Then, after a contemplative pause, he added, 'But jobs SUCK.' That was the end of the anecdote.
They did a new song called 'Au Contraire'. Flansburgh explained that the song had a French title, which he understood was controversial these days, so they had renamed the song so it was now called 'The Freedom Song'.
A nifty thing they did that I had not seen before was that they had brought along an old cheap AM/FM radio and at one point they fooled around with it, with the stated intention of finding songs being played on the radio and then having the band play along with them. Initially we listened to about fifteen seconds of a baseball game, then they found an Oldies station and played some sort of rockabilly thing. Then we listened to about 45 seconds of an NPR talk show ('So it's like the dissolving of a union. They use the term divorce ... but regardless, it's a union which is being broken up ...'), then a couple of top 40s seconds. I didn't recognize any of the songs, and I don't think they did either, but they gamely played along and made up lyrics and a good time was had by all, plus we got to listen to some NPR.
The first song they did was 'Wicked Little Critter'. Later, Flansburgh suggested that the Big Dig had not turned out quite the way it should have and should be filled in again so they could start over and do it right this time. Also, in 'The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas' it was revealed that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine, and that the heat and light of the sun come from the nuclear reactions of Route 95, Route 84, Route 91, and the Mass Pike. (This demonstrates that Providence is actually part of Boston.)
They did a cover of 'Hey Hey We're The Monkees', before which they had a long discussion of how they were going to perform the song, with the crowd offering advice. So like they argued about whether or not to do the second verse (the problem being that they weren't sure if they were going to be able to remember it), and the crowd encouraged them to fake it. Then they decided to drop the psychadelic ending, but the crowd booed, but F. said that the crowd would boo even more if they tried to do it, but they ended up doing it anyway (with Linnell doing a Jim Morrison imitation: "FATHER ... I'VE JOINED THE MONKEES. MOTHER ... I'VE JOINED THE MONKEES.")
Also, they did a nifty version of 'Robot Parade' (the fast, pseudo-heavy-metal version) as one of their encores.
So, basically, it was fun. I bought a tee shirt.
I hope your weekends were good!