I essentially grew up with Doctor Worm as my pediatrician — by that I mean, my parents were obsessed with They Might Be Giants, so my childhood was full of the rock and roll weirdness of John Flansburgh and John Linnell. Birdhouse In Your Soul was my jam. I wanted so bad to be the bee in someone’s bonnet. So naturally, when I saw that the Massachusetts band was making the trek to Kentucky, I had to see them.
I was shocked to arrive and find out that it was an entire evening of TMBG. Once the gang took the stage, they announced that first, they would play “a bunch of songs not from Flood,” and then the entirety of the infamous Flood album in reverse order. This experience was unique to the Covington show, I discovered after a bit of research. And the treat was not unappreciated — the crowd was moved by each song, and the energy from the band real, even if a tune was from one of the nineteen albums that isn’t Flood.
A friend of mine, Jesse Carson, jokingly described the attendees as “the largest gathering of quirky middle-aged Caucasians since the women’s march.” To be fair, she hit the nail on the head for a good amount of the crowd. If you knew someone with an alternative dad, they probably had plans that night. But I was shocked to see some of my peers mixed with the crowd, eagerly bobbing their heads to The Mesopotamians. And no matter which end of this spectrum you fit on, They Might Be Giants knew what you wanted to hear, and they delivered.
Laugh all you want at the nonsensical lyrics and whimsical themes in many of their songs, but the musical talents of They Might Be Giants are anything but immature. The iconic voices of the frontmen sounded exquisite live, not to mention the instrumental accompaniment. The band has seen a host of different members, Flansburgh and Linnell being the only ones around for the whole journey, but they sound like they’ve been playing together since they were kids. The amount of instruments is impressive without being overwhelming — there is always someone to focus on, and it made a perfect balance.
The one thing I would change: I wish the group used their ability for on-stage theatrics a little more. A mega screen was hanging behind the band, and was used on two or so songs to show the crowd some insight into the keyboard stylings of Linnell. The screen was also used for a brief introduction/hype video. I would love to see music videos or close-ups of the talented band used throughout the entire performance, I think it could add an extra element.
Regardless, if They Might Be Giants is coming to your town — Flood album or not — I would make the trip.
Hannah is an accidental internet meme, drummer, loud talker, and proud owner of a purse that functions as a working analog clock. She got the media writer gene from her dad, PF Wilson, another writer for Pop Culture Beast. Her favorite bands come and go on a seasonal rotation, but Marina & The Diamonds and Say Anything are here to say. She’s probably watching The Grand Budapest Hotel right now, but if she isn’t, she’s out photographing rock concerts.