xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

They Might Be Giants Call This Shit a Show

"So, is Rams Head Live like, you cut off a ram's head, and the head is still alive?" asked John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants Wednesday night, finally articulating what we've all wondered about the name of the downtown venue, the band's first stop on its current tour. In a career spanning 20 years, They Might Be Giants have held onto and built on the cult following they first amassed as the silliest band on 1980s college radio. If anyone were finally to ask that question, it would be them. And though the first half of their set was composed of songs more than a decade old--far superior to the newer stuff--Wednesday's show ably demonstrated why they remain a draw. Like the band's middling new album, The Else, the show got off to a clunky start with the songs "I'm Impressed" and "Take Out the Trash." It didn't help that the band's current incarnation sounded a little flatter than usual, with sluggish drumming and no horn section or any of the other bells and whistles that we've come to love. But things picked up shortly thereafter when Flansburgh started dropping the first of the night's many F-bombs, and they launched into more energetic material like the 1990 hit "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "Alphabet o Nations," a track from their second album of children's music, 2005's Here Come the ABCs. The band's kids records, a natural extension of the young audience they've been collecting since back when "Particle Man" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" were featured on the classic TMBG-tracked musical episode of Tiny Toons, are one of the more bizarre recent chapters in Giants history. But it's also been a successful outlet for them, so much so that they have to specify that their "rock shows" are for older fans only, involving loud volumes, explosions, and, inevitably, Flansburgh's foul language: Call-and-response chants of "what the fuck?" and "you call this shit a show?" were the order of the evening. Target audiences aside, every They Might Be Giants show features large helpings of childlike exuberance and spirited nonsense, such as a staged phone call with Edgar Allan Poe from beyond the grave, who asked to read a new poem and then recited the lyrics from "Enter Sandman." In other words, Giants have rightfully earned their rep as the geekiest band in the world. One of the best new songs played that night, "The Mesopotamians," details the adventures of a fictitious band of the same name, and Mesopotamians T-shirts were proudly displayed alongside TMBG gear at the merchandise table. These guys are so aware of their dedicated following—whomever they are, or supposed to be, at any given moment—that they can sell merch for a band that doesn't even exist.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement