They Might Be Giants
with The Postmarks
Orlando, Florida • March 13, 2008
They Might Be Giants at Orlando House of Blues? What? John Flansburgh wasn’t the only one floored by the packed house of indie rock fans, yet the band’s initial surprise morphed into bouncy white-hot energy when their mostly Gen-alphabet audience proved its love with equal enthusiasm for both new and Lincoln era tunes — and everything in-between. Whether lyrics were learned at mom’s knee or from TMBG’s podcasts and vast online catalog, fans belted out both 2007’s “The Mesopotamians” and 1988’s “Ana Ng” with the same vigor (and volume). Don’t even kid yourself into thinking the younger set came out for Miami-based openers, The Postmarks, who I can only generate the muster to describe as meh. Melancholy? Dreamy? That’s putting it over-zealously; a nap is what these kids wanted.
Not even Flansburgh’s OTC meds tempered TMBG’s energy, as he and John Linnell, with guitarist Dan Miller, bassist Danny Weinkauf, and touring drummer, “Grant” (whose last name I would be able to give you now had HOB’s commando security team not revealed the dreaded BLACK SHARPIE I so sinisterly tried to smuggle inside), launched in with “Why Does The Sun Shine” and didn’t let up until “How Can I Sing Like A Girl?” Only slightly disappointed in the fans’ easy love (“You say woo no matter what we say,” was John Linnell’s chastisement), They Might Be Giants delivered a couple of surprises of their own, including the two-keyboard attack of MC Fakename and MC Microsquiggle (Miller and Linnell’s “low-credibility pandering indie-rock since 2008”) and Miller’s glorious Spanish-guitar rendition of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).”
On the tail end of a tour that actually includes four Florida dates, the two chatty Johns simultaneously plugged their new one-year-old album, the Dust Brothers/Pat Dillett/TMBG produced, The Else, and their third kids’ album, Here Come The 123s. Touted as an “adult” show, the band stuck mainly to its college-radio material, slipping in “One Dozen Monkeys” and a few other kiddie rock tracks between favorites “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Doctor Worm” (their “bonsoir song”), though who can tell the old-school from the preschool? Is “Why Does The Sun Shine” a kids’ song? Is “Apartment Four” for grown-ups? Perhaps what makes TMBG one of the top-selling children’s music artists in the US is the band’s dedication to their own brand of smART rock: the perfect twisting of obvious and obscure facts into original lyrics laid over an ever-fresh bed of whatever strikes their musical fancy at a given moment — precisely what adults have loved about these guys since the first days of Dial-A-Song.