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They Might Be Awesome

Really long and probably not that interesting - and I still need to get images off my camera, so this is just lots and lots of words.

I love the album Flood by They Might Be Giants and listened to it constantly at one point. I could sing all the songs from it and forced other people (family, friends, coworkers) to listen to it, as well. I also liked some of their other songs, but I didn’t own any other albums by them. Consequently, I considered myself a fan, but not a big fan. Monkeys, on the other hand, has just about everything they ever did and would probably list them as his *favorite* band. So earlier this year at the Variety Playhouse JoCo concert where we saw the TMBG flier advertising their tour we set about making plans to go. Thankfully, we discovered their Tallahassee dates, making it closer, easier and less expensive, albeit JoCo free.

Even though I was excited about seeing them, I went more for Monkeys sake than my own; I would have been okay not going. So my expectations for the show were probably different from Monkeys just because I didn’t know what to expect and was a little nervous about not being as familiar with the songs. I mean, I’ve listened to Lincoln and John Henry a few times, but other than Anna Ang I couldn’t sing any songs from those on my own. Plus, live-and-in-concert didn’t seem like it had as high of an awesome prospect as what they can do on CDs with all their instruments and experimentation. Their unique sound and experimental nature is one of the things I love best about them, and I did not know how that would transfer to being on stage. Truthfully, while I have seen a lot of bands live (at Dragoncon, at festivals, at faires, at coffee houses) I haven’t seen that many “concerts”, so I didn’t have much experience upon which to base an expectation.


Cool set – very TMBG – giant faces with LED light eyes, LED light stands that changed colors, TWO drum sets, a confetti canon, a screen for better viewing of the PUPPETS. YES PUPPETS OMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEE.

Amazing musicianship – the drummer was incredible, even on the puny electric drum set (giggle). The bassist was impressive, wish he had gotten more solos. The guy playing the trumpet was phenomenal – they introduced him just about every time he featured, but you understood why because he was really amazing. When he started on Istanbul everyone went NUTS. Even more impressive to me were John and John. I guess I had paid so much attention to their lyrics (which definitely capture one’s attention) that I didn’t notice how incredible they were at playing their instruments. With the concert they expanded on songs – going into long instrumental bits and possibly improvisations – where I could focus on the guitar solo or the piano solo and think “WOW, they’ve been doing this the whole time??” And they did have some of their bizarre sounds – the electric drum set provided some and there was some gizmo on the side of John’s keyboard that give a Theremin kind of sound.

Brilliant songs – they did several songs from Flood, thank goodness, so I got to do a lot of singing along. They did Anna Ang and Mr. Worm and some other songs I recognized from their earlier albums. They also did quite a few songs from their new CD Here Comes Science (I got the shirt that says "Science is Real!"– it’s a really cool design!) All the songs I hadn’t heard before were really cool – I want Alphabet of Nations! Plus, the diversity of their songs really came through – scientific, rocking, ballad, international (?Istanbul?), quirky, serious – again, it made you respect their musicianship and range.

High energy – the crowd on the floor did a lot of jumping!! We all did a lot of arm waving. There was a ton of screaming and TWO encores. Plus the driving beats, the flashing lights, and the confetti added to the energy. The audience was a lot of fun – all ages from teens to people who looked to be in their 50’s and 60’s. There was some yelling, but nothing disruptive and it was usually in response to something the band said. At one point they performed a great song commanding everyone to clap (clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap), then stomp, then jump- which got all of us moving and reacting. Another song had us waving our fists in the air and repeatedly yelling “drink drink” during the chorus. So much fun!! In fact,

Most of all fun – John Flansburgh did most of the talking; he was really funny plus he seemed nice. He swore a bit (at one point he said he was getting a message on his hearphones from management that he wasn’t allowed to say F*ing), and he repeatedly mentioned being from NY city. I wonder about what it must be like to travel all over (all musicians, not just TMBG) and deal with all the different sensibilities of different regions. My favorite between song story may be the one about their song about the sun and their response song about their song about the sun. When they learned their first song was no longer completely scientifically accurate they did what any good country-western band would do - they wrote a reaction song. I found that really funny because I know several C/W reaction songs and knew exactly what they were talking about. I don’t remember a direct quote, but every time the confetti cannon went off they made comments about the Moon staff checking on the building’s insurance and the structural status of the roof. When they were thanking the Moon staff they talked about not being used to people being nice and helpful as they were from New York – that tied in with an earlier comment after singing Electric Car about how their car runs on Bad Vibes. There were other funny comments between songs, but darn it they have already escaped my memory. PUPPETS!!! At one point they left the stage and turned the show over to two sock puppet avatars (you could see them by the camera or watch them on a drop down big screen). One kept saying things like “How are you doing, Orlando!!” and “it’s great to be here in Jacksonville City.” They kept cracking each other up with their banter between songs and with the comments the puppets made about TMBG opening for them and how TMBG were to work with. I tried to get the entire puppet performance recorded, especially since I couldn’t take still photographs.

I wish I had a better camera. I didn’t get any good pictures of the band, although Monkeys took pictures of the set before they started. We chose to sit two levels up because of the type of chairs – it was better on our backs than standing by the stage or sitting on bar stools. It was still a really good view for watching the concert, but not good for photography. I hope to see them again and have a better camera at that point! Meanwhile, I want to scour YouTube for clips of the show! And I do have several recordings I’m hoping to force people to watch…

Dinner – We got to have dinner at Sahara with Joe and Zinger – YAY! Bec and Jay both tried to make it, but work and other responsibilities kept them from coming. We didn’t expect anyone to be able to carve time out of their busy schedules anyway, so we appreciate them for trying. We were thrilled with Zinger’s suggestion for dinner. I am going to list our order because it was extremely yummy and bears writing down – falafel, spinach pie, Greek salad, hummus, French fries (grin), chicken swhwarma, gyro meat, kibbi, pistachio baklava, ???some kind of cream of wheat type desert???, Turkish coffee, rose water and mint tea. Mmmmmmm.


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