When They Might Be Giants started playing “Man, It’s So Loud In Here” off their album, “Mink Car,” my dad leaned toward me and yelled, “I love this one!”
It was his first time seeing TMBG perform since he took my mom to one of their shows in 1992. This was my first time seeing them ever, and I couldn't believe that the band I’d been jamming out to since I first heard their album “No!” as a kid was standing on stage in front of me.
On Thursday night, TMBG played a sold-out show at Cat’s Cradle on the second stop of their 2018 tour. Their twentieth studio album, “I Like Fun,” dropped at midnight that night, eight minutes after the end of the show.
Even if you haven’t heard of They Might Be Giants, you’ve probably heard them. Ever seen an episode of “Malcolm In The Middle”? That’s them in the theme song. Ever watched “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart/Trevor Noah”? Again, that’s them in the theme song. TMBG’s brand of absurdist alt-rock has been going strong for over three decades, and it’s even more fun to hear live.
Throughout the concert, audience members kept calling out requests. At one point, frontman John Linnell asked everyone what they wanted to hear, and we all shouted out our favorite TMBG hits. “Alright, here’s Ahehbrhdushel,” Linnell joked in response before the band started playing “When The Lights Come On” from their new album.
They opened for themselves, with other frontman John Flansburgh requesting that everyone be a little more emotionally unavailable during the “opening” act.
“If you could all please cross your arms and play on your phones,” Flansburgh said.
The band took a 20-minute break between the first set and the second set. When they came back, John Flansburgh and John Linnell (the Johns) joined drummer Marty Beller in playing a couple of their so-called political songs (“Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” and “James K. Polk.”)
When I wasn’t cheering or singing along, I was laughing. The Johns kept up a hilarious commentary between each song, trying to nickname the members of the band and comparing Linnell to Tonya Harding.
They opened with “Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal,” a fun song that everyone could bop along to. Over the course of the show, TMBG fluctuated between performing old classics like “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Spider” and sharing songs off their new album like “All Time What” and “I Left My Body.”
When we called them back for an encore, they came out and announced that after a “band conference,” they were ready to play some more songs, and then they went right into “Bangs” from the “Mink Car” album. When they finished up with “Ana Ng” and said goodbye once again, we thought that was it.
“Once they do ‘Ana Ng’ they’re not coming back,” Dad confirmed.
TMBG came back with a second encore where they finished with “Dead” from the album “Flood,” something everyone could sway and sing along to.
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