They Might Be Giants

House of Blues

July 21, 2004

They Might Be Giants have been opening their recent shows with songs about the venue they’re playing. On Wednesday night at the House of Blues, they opened their set with a metal parody entitled—you guessed it— “House of Blues.” These guys were silly and lighthearted the whole night. That’s what they’re known for, anyway. After twenty plus years and ten albums, they’re still simply a nerd rock band. And, I can say that because I’m a nerd.

So, yes, I liked the show. The main thing I want to get across is that they really ROCKED. Their eccentricity lent itself to weird meters, intentional disjunction, and a bit of amused aloofness, but vocalist/guitarist John Flansburgh was more than happy to jump around, scream and rip through songs with a ‘50’s rock tone. Lead guitarist Dan Miller’s stunning solos proved that you can sing about face implosion and still know your shit.

The music was great, but the show was fun, too. Confetti burst through the air, and a crowd wave started from vocalist/pianist John Linnell’s head, traveled into the balcony, back down onto the floor and back into his head. You had to be there. The chemistry between the two Johns was the best I’ve seen it. They were like a comedy team up there, cracking jokes. At a 1999 show at Tipitina’s, Linnell barely spoke, instead happy to just flash his bemused grin the whole night. Last night, he was much more relaxed and less shy. Still, Flansburgh was the carnival barker, directing the crowd and doing most of the cheerleading. He let the audience strum his guitar strings. I think one guy tried to take it away from him. Flansburgh was taken aback, and he said that was the first time someone grabbed the other side of the guitar. The place was full, and the crowd was really into it, stomping, swaying and pogoing when the music called for it.

Unfortunately, the band of Dans was no more. Former drummer Dan Hickey was replaced by Marty Beller, but Dan Wienkauf was around on bass. Beller did his job well, but he didn’t have the presence of Hickey. Where’s Hickey?!

TMBG played hits like “Ana Ng,” “Don’t Let’s Start,” “Doctor Worm,” “Istanbul(Not Constantinople), and “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” They also paid a lot of attention to their tenth album, “The Spine,” during their hour and a half set. They played “Experimental Film,” “Bastard Wants to Hit Me,” “It’s Kickin In,” “Spine,” and “Stalk of Wheat.” “Film” was classic TMBG—celebratory and whimsical. It should be a single.

The show was full of positive energy. It’s the kind of concert I wouldn’t mind following around. You hear that, band? I’ll be your concert archivist.

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