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They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants




They Might Be Giants haven’t toured Australia in a long time, so when this tour was announced, it bought all their old school fans out of the closet. And a new one too, in the form of my gig companion, who hadn't been exposed to TMBG in the way that I have, over the years.

The gig started with a quick intro that known just as ‘Sammy’. The crowd bounced, before the guys jumped straight into ‘You’re On Fire’, the first track off their latest album Nanobots. It’s jittery funky guitar continued to pump the crowd along nicely. Next up was an obscure track from their greatest hits album called ‘We’re the Replacements’.

One thing that has to be said about TMBG’s stage presence is that not only are they one of the most engaging bands I have seen in along time, they are also some of the snappiest dressers. The friend I brought along thought John Flansburgh was dressed like a celebrant at a bad Vegas wedding. A compliment, in a twisted ironic way.

Next up was ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’, one of the finest pop songs in the last 20 years. Its simple melody and poignancy have always stuck in my mind like boogie woogie ear worm. I only just found out the song is sung from the perspective of a night light.

"I'm your only friend; I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend,but really I'm not actually your friend; but I am.”

After realising that the night light was a protector of sorts, the track took on new meaning, and I enjoyed a much deeper perspective on it. Funny how a simple pop song can do that to you.

Further into the set, they jumped into ‘Doctor Worm’, a big hit on Triple J when it was first released. From start to finish, the gig had the crowd in raptures; everybody was dancing and hooping and hollering. It made you want to go and hug complete strangers; the song had that kind of effect on people.

‘Drink!’ got a showing. It’s one of the best party songs ever written. Its lyrics, “Lets 'drink, drink this town is so great. Drink, drink cos it's never too late.
To drink, drink to no big surprise,”  depicts my party scene so closely, that I thought for a moment that TMBG’s had been spying my life. It had the crowd smashing their glasses around with abandonment, and beer flowed freely like a drunken night at Oktoberfest.

About three quarters of the way through the show, TMBG made an exit from the stage. They didn’t say they had finished or anything, so the mood turned kind of weird, but then, from a video screen to the side of the stage, two sock puppets appeared. Not only are these guys brilliant musicians, but they also do cabaret, puppet style. The puppets had the crowd in stiches, and after a bit of research, I found out the puppets are called ‘The Avatars’. All the way through the gig I had been thinking these guys would make brilliant primary school music teachers. They have a great rapport with people, their songs are so brilliantly catchy, and kids would love them. Sure enough, TMBG’s have released three kids album and one has even won a Grammy.

I left the gig with a big smile on my face, and I’m sure others in attendance did, too. Rock and Roll is always a joint adventure, but when you have one of your best mates belting out the song alongside you; the gig is always that much better.
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