First, let me say that this concert went by very quickly, which to me indicates that it was a very, very good show. I’m glad we found a place near the stage when we did because once the opening act started it was next to impossible to even turn around let alone get in and out of the crowd.
The opening act was the alt-folk band Vandaveer, who were good, but not really my cup of tea. I was very taken by Rose Guerin, though, whose blonde and pink hair and subtly powerful voice captured my attention for their entire set.
After a brief intermission, the lights dimmed and They Might Be Giants came onstage. I, rather against my control or better judgement, squeeled at the sight of John & John in front of me but no one minded because they were all beside themselves with joy too. They went into a song off their new record Nanobots called “You’re On Fire,” which whipped the crowd up even more. The show was a good mix of new and old songs, and they played up to that by pretending that the old songs were new (“and now a song off our new record ‘Lincoln’…”). They also played an impromptu version of the theme from The Rockford Files and told a story about how they’d once met the composer of the tune at an awards show and told him they wanted to cover the song and he’d responded by yelling the appropriate key at them.
This was my first They Might Be Giants show and I’d heard how interactive the show can be, but I really enjoyed the games they played with us. The first one occurred when Flansburgh took out an oversized flashlight and pointed it down the middle of the crowd to divide us into two groups. He then said that everyone on the left side of the room represented the people and had to pump their right fist in the air and shout “PEOPLE!” for a certain part of the next song. The right half of the room pretended to be apes and had to pump their left fist and yell “APES!” when their part of the song came up. I was on the ape side and tried my best, but “apes” is a very hard word to shout repeatedly thanks to the “p” and “s” in the word. When the song was over, Flansburgh announced that The People had won and much booing from The Apes happened.
The second game was that, according to Linnell, the band had nicknames for every single person in the room. When Flans shined his flashlight on one of them one or both of the Johns would reveal what the nickname was. Their favorite ended up being the last person named, whose name Flansburgh swore began with a J or an H but who Linnell suddenly exclaimed was called Rusty. They even dedicated “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” to dear Rusty.
They did two encores, one with three songs, including Ana Ng. The final encore just included one song, Twisting.
The available merch was good quality and not too pricy considering, but I wish they’d had smaller objects other than guitar picks (I’d been hoping for a button to add to my collection, but alas). We bought a Drinky Crow tee shirt and a signed CD of Nanobots, which was next to a bright pink sign that said “WHAT? That’s not even out yet!” The woman running the merch table had a jar that said “give me tips of they’l kill my cat,” which of course I found funny and put money into.
Here’s the set list from the show and the albums the songs are from, in case you were wondering:
1) You’re On Fire (from Nanobots), 2) When Will You Die (from Join Us), 3) Memo to Human Resources (from The Spine), 4) Celebration (from Join Us), 5) Call You Mom (from Nanobots), 6) Fingertips (from Apollo 18), 7) Cloisonné (from Join Us), 8) Whistling in the Dark (from Flood), 9) Drink! (from Mink Car), 10) Dr. Worm (from Severe Tire Damage) ,11) Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head (from They Might Be Giants), 12) Rockford Files theme , 13) Where Your Eyes Don’t Go (from Lincoln), 14) The Guitar (from Apollo 18), 15) Planet of the Apes Battle, 16) They’ll Need a Crane (from Lincoln), 17) Insect Hospital (from Nanobots), 18) Nanobots (from Nanobots), 19) Birdhouse in Your Soul (from Flood), 20) The Mesopotamians (from The Else) 21) Istanbul, Not Constantinople (from Flood)
Encore one: 1) Alphabet of Nations (from Here Come the ABCs), 2) New York City (cover), 3) Ana Ng (from Lincoln), Encore two: Twisting (from Flood)