I was at Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College, NY. to see the They Might Be Giants (TMBG) concert in November. They are John Flansburgh and John Linnel, and they are anything but the typical "quirky." For their newest album, "John Henry," TMBG added a six-person band, some of whom were at the concert. Brian Doherty on drums, Tony Maimone on bass, and Kurt Hoffman on horns joined TMBG to make for an even better group.
Frank Black, formerly lead singer of the Pixies, was TMBG's guest and opened with "Sir Rock a Bye" and then moved on to the popular "Headache" which gets some air time. He amused us before playing "Tragic Mexican Jumping Bean" with "It's a brand-new song. It's about five minutes old. It's about a tragic Mexican jumping bean."
By the time he finished his intro set overflowing with unique howling, Frank had four guitars and one bass wrapped around him. The crowd chuckled as he struggled with all of them. The second to last song Frank Black sang was a tribute to John Candy titled "End of the Road." Before beginning he plainly stated, "Admit it, you all loved AUncle Buck."'
TMBG opened the second half with the uplifting "Meet James Ensor" off their new album. Instead of playing the regular nifty guitar solo as, John Flansburgh sounded it with his voice. The new vocals added some needed anticipation to the show by showing the audience this was no plain-Jane band. Though it was unfamiliar to me, I recognized "They'll Need A Crane" as one of TMBG's rocking, thought-provoking songs.
John Linnel brought out his on-the-verge-of-annoying-yet-still-great-fun accordion for your favorite and mine, "The Famous Polka." Perhaps it is because they are TMBG or maybe it's John Linnel's terrific musicianship that caused everyone to become more enthralled with the band after listening to this famed polka.
Of the many TMBG songs you can jump around to, "Twisting" and "Your Racist Friend" were the most jolting. They woke up the crowd which, in turn, encouraged people to shed their inhibitions and dance. The other song that thrilled the crowd was "Spy." Flashing red lights and street lamps behind John and John also got people moving. After coming back for an encore to quiet the screaming masses, They Might Be Giants finished with "At The End of the Tour."
This was one concert absolutely worth seeing
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.