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They Might Be Giants
— with A.T.S. opening —
Electric Banana in Pittsburgh, PA
April 6, 1987 at 8:00 PM
Fan Recaps and Comments:
Part of the band's "Bring Me The Head Of Kenny Rogers World Tour", this show was referenced in the Venue Songs track "Pittsburgh" and its corresponding spoken-word track "Monongahela", with the latter directly referencing the venue's owner, Johnny Banana. The show was presented by WPTS.
This show was also mentioned in a Pittsburgh Post Gazette article from 1987: "In concert — like the one a few months ago at the Electric Banana — They Might Be Giants wriggle on the floor and engage the crowd to sing corny verses they thought they'd never be singing in public."
The band's manager, Jamie Kitman, has talked about his experience with the band at the Electric Banana twice, both in a 1987 issue of Automobile Magazine and the New Yorker in 2002 in an article by Michael Azzerad:
They Might Be Giants toured in support of the album for about a year. Money was tight, so Kitman, who did freelance articles for the magazine Automobile, finagled an assignment to road-test a Plymouth Voyager--the first minivan--on the Giants' nineteen-city, fifty-two-hundred-mile "Bring Me the Head of Kenny Rogers World Tour '87." When the band played Pittsburgh's now defunct Electric Banana, there were only twenty-seven people in the club, and Kitman was deeply discouraged.
"I was saying, 'Let's just go home,' and the Giants were saying, 'No, no,'" he recalls. "And they went out and shook everybody's hand in the audience and then played the best show I'd ever seen them play." One member of the audience was a programming executive for a local radio station, WXDX; the next day, WXDX became the first commercial station in the country to add They Might Be Giants to its playlist. The single "Don't Let's Start" later became a hit on the influential K-Rock station in Los Angeles, and Bar/None struggled to keep up with demand for the record.
John Linnell has also mentioned the show on multiple occasions:
It's good to be back at the Banana. My name is John Banana, this is Johnny Banana. We're They Might Be Giants.
The setting was so unbelieveable. You have this real feeling of angst.
There was this one time we played at a club called the Electric Banana. The guy who ran the club [Johnny Banana] owned a gun, got free T-shirts from all the bands, but never really paid them. At the end of the evening, the gun would come out, and the bands would leave without their money. When we played our manager protested; so he [Johnny] took the money to pay us from the house sound guy. It was very unusual.
I'll never forget that show, we still talk about it all the time. It was our first tour, and it was such a dive at that place. There were 10 people there. Johnny Banana was such a character, and when we got there he was already in full Johnny Banana mode.
It's a gig we played − probably '86 [sic], after the release of our first album. It (the venue) stood on sort of stilts on an edge of a hill, which we became aware of after we played the set, it was hanging maybe 40 feet over the edge of a precipice. It added to the sense of exciting danger.