The Stick

From This Might Be A Wiki
Not to be confused with the Chapman Stick
"Our most fearful nemesis—it's The Stick. Benevolent, but clinically insane. Omnipresent, yet alcoholic."
John Flansburgh playing The Stick in 1988 (photo by Stevie Rocco)

The Stick is a tall, thick, cylindrical wooden pole with an omni-directional microphone duct-taped just above the bottom. It is "played" by hitting the bottom against any hard surface. It has been an element of They Might Be Giants's live show since the late 1980s. The Stick is used to create the deep bass drum sound in live renditions of "Lie Still, Little Bottle". Often, for live performances, the song's arrangement is simply The Stick, John Flansburgh's vocals, and Linnell on saxophone, accordion or another keyboard instrument. Between the 80s and 90s, The Stick was sometimes used for an "audience participation" portion of TMBG's live show. The Johns would call up a member of the audience to "play" the Stick for the song.

The Stick has ranged in size. Its physical manifestation has changed over the years—the band has certainly not retained the same branch for twenty years—but its omnipotent presence has remained. A small amount of reverb is added as an effect to bring its sound closer to a bass drum. The sound resembles a marching band bass drum, or the drum at the start of "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head". However, The Stick has not likely been used in any studio recordings.

The Stick is referenced in Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), where early fans relate how The Stick was a crucial part of the band’s shows at Darinka around 1987. It continues to make occasional live appearances to this day, and is often carried in the tour equipment truck even on tours when it does not make any on-stage appearances. The current Stick is considerably taller than older Sticks.