Monday, 18 May 2015

Entertainment Monday: They Might Be Giants Live in Concert (Monday 5/18/2015)

On April 22nd at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park New York I saw They Might Be Giants live in concert for the first time.  They Might Be Giants has a strong Cult Following and has even dipped occasionally in to the main stream music scene over their 33 years as an Alternative Indie Rock band.  The band was formed in 1982 by John Linnell and John Flansburgh and has churned out a great deal of music over the years, recently releasing their 16th studio album, Nanobots which they are currently promoting through the tour where they stopped in at the Upstate Concert Hall. 

The audience at the concert was one of the most diverse concert audiences I've ever seen relative to age and I'm sure that is part and parcel to how long the band has been around.  There were parents at the concert with their children of no more than 10-12 years old as well as audience members in their 60s.  

TMBG experiments a lot with their music and have a unique sound.  A vast majority of their songs are humorous and their lyrics and musical approach is intellectual.  Even their love songs aren't your run of the mill "love songs".  I think that since their inception they have been very much on the cutting edge of music performance because they defy any stereotypical "sound".  The band has even put out a Children's album called No back in 2002. 

My sister Heather was definitely the driving force behind my introduction to and love for They Might Be Giants when we were growing up on Long Island in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Every last Sunday of the month throughout the year TMGB performs in Brooklyn, New York and will play some of their full albums.  It's part of their deep seeded connections to the Brooklyn community for 30 plus years that helped to bring such a strong cult following for the band.  It's also a tribute to Linnell and Flansburgh that they have remained relevant for such a long period in the music scene.

I loved seeing them live in concert and wanted to share with our readers some of the music they performed live at the concert I went to.  Years ago TMGB had a thing called Dial a Song where fans could call a phone number and TMGB would play a song request and sometimes even improvise a song.  They still have the same option online at their website now via the internet.  They satired the whole dial-a-song feature at their live concert where intermittently the concert would be interrupted by a phone call from Siri the Iphone application and Siri would request that They Might Be Giants stop playing stuff off of their new album and just play their long standing hits.

Some TMGB fans have a likely annoying habit of shouting out requests for old TMGB hit songs during a concert.  So I think  that TMGB likes to poke a little bit of good natured fun at those fans with the Siri phone calls that happened during the concert.

Your On Fire off the album Nanobots

Underwater Woman

TMGB also did an awesome cover of Destiny's Child's hit song Bills, Bills, Bills, which (while not mentioned in the live performance I copied here) they said they randomly picked from a page off a music history log.

The audience called TMGB back on stage for two separate encores.  While during the half way portion of the concert they played Istanbul (Not Constantinople) most of their hit songs they saved for the encore performances.

Istanbul (Not Contantinople)

There are so many songs I could choose to share here given their long history and the 2 plus hour concert but three other songs that are favorites of mine that TMGB played during their encores were Birdhouse in Your Soul which was their biggest hit in the United States, We Want a Rock (off of Flood my favorite TMGB album) and my personal favorite Ana Ng during their second encore, which brought me great delight.

Birdhouse in Your Soul

 We Want a Rock

Ana Ng

One of the big reasons I wanted to see They Might Be Giants live outside of the fact that I love their music is because my twin brother Clifford and my sister Heather have seen them live in concert (Heather and her husband David several times) and by seeing them live this would be the only band that all three of us got to see live (albeit we've seen none of their concerts together).  Clifford watched TMGB perform around 20 years ago in Brooklyn with our best friend George while Clifford was attending St. John's University. 

Ultimately it was an awesome concert experience and probably the best $20.00 that I've spent in several years.  As TMGB performs regularly I would absolutely recommend that anyone in the North East United States (especially because they are based out of Brooklyn, NY as previously mentioned) get out to see them in concert.  Bring your family too because so much of their music is not age specific as far as enjoyment.  


  1. I didn't know that they had been around for so long. I only knew about them because of Malcolm in the Middle. Their songs and video clips are certainly quirky.

  2. Quirky is an apt description Carlyn. They don't take anything too seriously and that's reflected in their music. I'm sure there are some people that that does not appeal to, and yet I think (as do many of their fans) that their quirky humor is what's so awesome about them and something that is very hard to pull off successfully in music.


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