They Might Be Giants
with Double Dong
Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg • 3.25.98
They Might Be Giants hit town roughly twice a year, and I never miss them. Why? Well, for more than ten years now, they’ve been making some of the freshest and most innovative music around. The music mainstream still hasn’t caught up to them, and most likely never will. Their unique sound has built a cult following as dedicated and as rabid as that of the Grateful Dead, only TMBG fans smell a lot better, and tend to have kept more of their brain cells. I should know, I’ve been one of their devotees for a decade or so!
The flyers said there would be “special guests” opening the show, but they were never mentioned in a single print ad. The reason for that may be that most family publications are afraid of the name Double Dong. Had those hypothetical publishers seen the act on stage, they might have had good reason to be afraid! Double Dong are a three-piece from New York that can be best summed up in one word: raunchy! Two guys and one girl (who looked like she’d raided Shirley Manson’s closet) bounded onto the stage and did an a capella set of songs about sex! They rapped and sang and did some human beatbox, and even riffed on kazoos, and every song had lyrics that I can’t transcribe for an all-ages audience. A particularly memorable couplet that was among the cleaner of the evening: “the world is a palace, I give you my phallus, avec moi.” Another tune was about breaking the state of Florida off from the continental US and using it as a surrogate penis to have intercourse with the rest of the country! I don’t know if Double Dong intended their act to be performance art or comedy, but it was certainly captivating, and I had my ears peeled to hear what they’d pull next. The crowd seemed to get a kick out of them, too. They also had a keen sense of timing; they cleared the stage right when a minute more would have gotten obnoxious.
After a brief wait, the stage darkened, and the crowd cheered loudly as the prerecorded “Kitten Intro” welcomed They Might Be Giants to the stage. The lean, mean four-piece ensemble wasted no time charging into a spirited version of Cub’s “New York City” to start out a set that was nothing short of spectacular! Johns Linnell (keyboards and accordion) and Flansburgh (guitar) seemed to have a great time. As Flansburgh mentioned, TMBG love Jannus Landing, and always seem to have great shows there. Tonight was no exception. They managed to get almost the entire crowd to form a conga line for “No One Knows My Plan,” showered us all in confetti for “James K. Polk,” brought down the lights for “Pet Name,” and had puppets perform “Exquisite Dead Guy.” They also got enthusiastic cheers for some brand-new tunes, “They Might Be Giants Got Lost” and “Dr. Worm,” the latter of which they mentioned as the non-live single from an upcoming (and long overdue) live album. Still in all, the most ecstatic responses of the evening came on old favorites like “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Particle Man,” “Don’t Let’s Start,” “Ana Ng,” and “The Guitar,” which had the entire crowd dancing and singing along.
All in all, it was another outstanding performance from a band that never seems to disappoint. I find it hard to understand why larger-scale success has eluded They Might Be Giants. Their songs are catchy and the energy of their performances is infectious. They should have conquered the world years ago! Do yourself a favor and don’t miss their next stop in your town — with your help, it’s not too late for them to effect a global takeover! The world would be a better place for it.