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Saturday, 5 November 2005
They Might Be Giants ... And what're we gonna do unless they are?
Mood:  party time!
Topic: Live on Stage
Make a hole with a gun perpendicular
To the name of this town in a desk-top globe
Exit wound in a foreign nation
Showing the home of the one this was written for
"They Might Be Giants" are four words that, when recited in that order, usually results in blank stares. I understand if most people don't get the particular reference I'm making, but you'd think occasionally someone would make the connection to the 1971 feature film of that same name.

Okay, so probably most of you reading this are equally in the dark. Do you know the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)? Okay, how about the theme song from the TV series "Malcolm in the Middle"? Well, "They Might Be Giants" (TMBG from here out) is the band that did those songs (amongst a zillion others), and last night I finally saw them live and in person.

Click here for the TMBG website

I can't recall how I first got turned on to the band. I recall hearing "Istanbul" and seeing the animated video done to it back around 89-90, but how I got from this to the album "Flood" eludes my memory. Anyway, I got a few of their albums in the mid 90s, and was smitten by their clever lyrics and songs that visit all numerous points on the msucial map.
There’s a picture opposite me
Of my primitive ancestry
Which stood on rocky shores
And kept the beaches shipwreck free
Though I respect that a lot
I’d be fired if that were my job
After killing Jason off
And countless screaming argonauts

...for instance, from "Birdhouse in Your Soul", which is nominally about a blue bird nightlight.

I turned my friend Sherri onto the band back when I first discovered them, and she and I played a few of their albums so many times the music is likely tattooed onto my cerebral cortex. When I found out the band would be playing some west coast gigs, and that one was in San Francisco, I immediately bought four tickets and then called Sherri and asked her if she wanted to go. She was excited (natch), but concerned that she couldn't take the time necessary to drive down from Carson City, what with work, house stuff going on, and her baby, Sam. I then suggested a plane ticket so she could fly out, have dinner, see the show, sleep, and leave again at the crack of dawn. Done deal!
Baby check this out
I've got someting to say
Man, it's so loud in here
When they stop the drum machine
And I can think again
I'll remember what it was

The above is from "Man It's So Loud in Here", a brilliant swipe at dance club music that uses its own overproduced excesses to bludgeon itself. Fortunately, the volume level at the club wasn't excessive, so my ears weren't ringing when it was over. A concert rarity!

Sherri's husband Art couldn't come on the trip, so that left two unclaimed tickets. I called a number of my friends, most of whom were busy the night in question. Finally, John Sugden's "Oh my God!" at the offer of free Giantism sealed the deal, and he planned to join us with his fiancee, Laura Lee. Well, she couldn't make it at the last minute, so I had four tickets to pick up at Will Call. What to do?

I grabbed Sherri at the aiport at 4:30. After a brief stop home, we headed across the Bay Bridge to get dinner with mutual friend Becky. We decided to eat on Columbus Street, since our destination was there, and Becky works near the other end of that street. I found parking two blocks from the concert venue, we met Becky, got dinner at a cute Italian place (the food was ok, but nothing too special). Dinner over, and after much silliness, said goodbye to Becky and moved on.

On Columbus St. just before the show!

There was still the matter of the one extra ticket (I know you're biting your nails in anticipation). As Sherri went to look for seats, I went along the Will Call and Ticket line and asked if anyone was looking to buy a ticket. 30 seconds later, I had my $25 back, which promptly and mysteriously vanished at the bar.

The show opened with an act that we didn't pay much mind to...being busy chatting and ordering drinks. Then TMBG took to the stage. They announced that they're writing a song about each and every venue they play this tour, and did a short set of these for ua. I can't wait to hear the song they come up with for the venue where we saw them, named BIMBOS!

A short break was taken before the main set, which was a great show with a lot of fun material, some of it already tattooed into my brain, others now vying to do so, such as "XTC vs. Adam Ant". One thing that's really fun about the band is that in addition to doing their usual unusual songs, they also do records for children ("Bed, Bed, Bed" for instance), and included a few of these cute gems in the set, including "Pictures of Pandas Painting", "E Eats Everything" and "Alphabet of Nations." They also do a rockin' cover of an old 1960s educational song "Why Does the Sun Shine" (which begins "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas")!

Reisisting audience cries for faves like "Istanbul" and "Particle Man", the two encores featured less obvious choices, but all good ones.

Then it was over. We waited at our table for the crowd to thin before heading out, then Sherri noticed that one of the "two Johns" who make up TMBG (the rest of the band changes all the time) was sitting on the edge of the stage talking. We strolled over and she got her newly purchased TMBG CD "Here Come the ABCs" autographed. I complimented him on their choice for the closing number ("Fingertips", which is actually 21 single verse songs (averaging about 20 seconds long) in almost every style imagineable played back to back to back.

John departed, and Sherri and I hit the club Martunis for a final drink in the piano bar. That was probably a mistake, as Sherri felt woozy afterwards, but we made it home safe and sound sometime after 1:30 a.m.

6:30 came realllllllly early, and I zipped her to the airport.

Hit and run concert going, indeed!

Posted by molyneaux at 11:08 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:21 PM PDT
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