Shows/1995-03-11

From This Might Be A Wiki


Fan Recaps and Comments:

Opening Act was Soul Coughing and since they got along so well they wanted to cover SPY, so John and John came out and played it with them. --anon.

I attended with a crew of fellow-travelling drama/choir nerds, and my friend K went two-for-two: Flans gave her one of his guitar picks (imprinted with the Flood logo, but with the word Flans substituted for Flood) and she hooked up with the drummer for Soul Coughing, Yuval Gabay. Lucky girl! Great show. I had just gotten my driver's license and felt like a big cool grown up. --Big Andy

Review by Samara Kalk, Capital Times (Mar. 13, 1995):

Wacky as the band can be at times, They Might Be Giants is begging to be taken seriously.


It proved so on its latest album, "John Henry," and with a quality live show fueled by the group's core -- the two Johns, Linnell and Flansburgh -- plus a drummer, bass player and two-man horn section.
The result is a full, powerful, infectious sound that pumped up a predominantly young capacity crowd Saturday night at the Barrymore.
Its fans, many of whom signed on in 1990 with TMBG's first major label release, "Flood," are as dedicated as they come -- especially the teenagers.
It must be gratifying for Flansburgh and Linnell (who, on stage, looks no older than 15 himself) to achieve some commercial success after 10 years of playing, singing, writing and touring.
The band makes no apologies about milking it, either. Many of the kids were wearing band T-shirts, and the ones who weren't were crowded around a vendor's table featuring four varieties. Was anyone shelling out $5 for the bag of TMBG coffee?
Indulging its audience, the band played about a half-dozen songs from "Flood," including the popular "Birdhouse in Your Soul," "Particle Man" and "Your Racist Friend." After the first encore, a whipped-up crowd chanted the band into performing the old novelty hit "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" recorded on the same album.
Before the song, trumpeter Steven Bernstein showed off his pipes in a solo worthy of a young Bunny Berigan.
The punchy 90-minute show was a satisfying mix of new and old material, most of which is fast, furious and short. That's why the band was able to zip through nearly 30 songs from its five albums, leaning heavily on "John Henry." Flansburgh opened the show alone, with a scaled-down version of "Do Not Forsake Me."
Linnell and the band joined in immediately with the peppery made-for-radio tune "Subliminal."
Flansburgh coyly introduced "Extra Savoir-Faire" as "a true story... about somebody else."
"Sleeping in the Flowers" is another hook-laden pop song that sticks like gum to the bottom of your shoe, though it boasts some charming lyrics: "We'll be sleeping in the flowers/Tell my boss that I've been fired."
You know, stuff to encourage today's youth. Meanwhile, many lyrics and references (including, most likely, the album's title) may be lost on the youngsters.
What is lost on the band is the way kids dance these days. As it has before, TMBG showed its disapproval of moshing (slam dancing, in our day) once the body-passing began.
"If we wanted to see people fighting, we would have stayed in Brooklyn," said Flansburgh, before launching into that great influence of a song, "The Statue Got Me High."
As for the opening act, Soul Coughing, it should have stayed in New York. It was able to win over the audience, though, near the end of its hourlong set when it brought out most of TMBG for a preview-plus.

Review by Ben Karlin, Wisconsin State Journal (Mar. 13, 1995):

You know what they say about the kids -- they love that rock n' roll music. For one night, every ostracized youth in the Dane County area congregated at the Barrymore Theatre, expressing their ultimate coolness by going to a They Might Be Giants show.


The group is one of those bands that never seems to lose its edge, even as members John Linnell and John Flansburgh get older and more removed from their younger and younger audience. Saturday, playing to a sold-out crowd whose median age couldn't have been over 18, They Might Be Giants blew through 23 songs and two encores (five more songs), touching on material from almost all of its albums with varying degrees of success.
Long a goofy duo with short songs emphasizing word play and funny sounds, Linnell and Flans-burgh have taken to playing with a full band lately, even recording a new album, "John Henry," with band in tow. The songs off "John Henry," most notably "Snail Shell," "Subliminal" and "Sleeping in the Flowers," all sounded great with the natural boosts of trumpet, trombone, bass and drums.
But the Giants' older material, tunes which are amazing in their simplicity, came off as noisy and overly arranged. Fan favorites "Particle Man," "I Palindrome I," "The Guitar," and "Purple Toupee" all sounded far too busy, with heavy drums and blaring horns drowning out Linnell and Flansburgh's distinctive lyrics. Even the band's big hit, "Birdhouse in Your Soul," sounded dense and muddled, a simple and effective vessel lost in a sea of too much noise.
Still, They Might Be Giants knows how to put on a fun show, in spite of its rapture with its new musical status as full-fledged rock n' roll band. Flansburgh's nasal vocals and Linnell's juggling of keyboard, accordion and bassoon kept the crowd moving harmoniously, even if a few misdirected youths thought it was appropriate to mosh. Flansburgh reminded the youngsters that true Giants fans do more bobbing and hopping than moshing.
But between a helter-skelter conga dance line throughout the Barrymore, the brief presence of a glockenspiel and a ukulele on stage, and the band's signature polka, They Might Be Giants left its fans more than enough to tell their parents about when they were picked up from the show to make it home by curfew.
Opening the evening was funk-rock-rap fusionists Soul Coughing. No one was quite sure what type of music the band was playing through its 55-minute set, as it shifted back and forth between styles, never really showing that it had mastered any of them.

Soul Coughing's biggest applause came during its encore, when Flansburgh and Linnell came up on stage for "Spy," a fun, stop-and-start pop tune off "John Henry."