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- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
- Ana Ng
- Your Racist Friend
- Kiss Me, Son Of God
- Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head
- Number Three
- Toddler Hiway (a capella)
- I'll Sink Manhattan
- Where Your Eyes Don't Go
- Snowball In Hell
- Why Does The Sun Shine?
- Purple Toupee
- The Famous Polka
- I've Got A Match
- Santa's Beard
- Lie Still, Little Bottle
- Don't Let's Start
- She's An Angel
They Might Be Giants
— with The Balancing Act opening —
Cabaret Metro in Chicago, IL
December 16, 1988 at 7:30pm (all ages); 11pm (over 21)
Fan Recaps and Comments:
It was a snowy Friday night in Chicago. I was 15, and at the early show. My dad, a true champ, came to the show but had drifted away to give me and my friend space, probably heading up to the balcony.
The stage was flanked with three giant prints of the head from the Don't Lets Start video. During the wait for the Johns to come on, I talked with a group of other kids around my age next to me. "Who is that?" "We should ask." We agreed to shout "WHO THE FUCK IS THAT??" in between songs.
During a quick break, we did it. We screamed in unison, asking the all-important question.
Flansburgh gave us a patient, but cryptic response: "He's the guy in the encyclopedia where E.B. White should be."
The next song started. The rest of the show was incredible. I committed Flansburgh's statement to memory.
The next day, I went into my school's library and headed to the encyclopedias. For each set, I picked up the W volume, looked up E.B. White, and... found an entry E.B. White. I had almost exhausted my options, but there was one more set of encyclopedias, the cheap ones in the corner, the ones nobody used. I searched for E.B. White.
He wasn't there.
But in his place was an entry on William Allen White, with a portrait, the very same as we saw hanging on stage, in the early videos, and down on the bottom of this very page.
David Silverman, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 18, 1988:
Was it live, or was it Memorex?
It`s difficult to tell when you listen to They Might Be Giants.Together, They Might Be Giants represents one of the finest songwriting performing acts on the alternative music scene.
In concert Friday night at the Cabaret Metro, TMBG proved that they are talented, if not overly eccentric, songwriters and that their bizarre brand of catchy pop can overcome the absolute lack of a live rhythm section.
Nevertheless, it was an unusual experience. There was no drummer and no bass player to back these guys up. They appeared on a virtually empty stage.
So where did the drums and a bass line come from? It was only a tape; a big reel-to-reel job, hooked up to the sound board, giving the cues and dictating the show's pace. An eerie experience, but one that was overcome by an unusually good performance.
It seems that the Boston-born, New-York-based duo of John Flansburgh (guitarist, vocalist and the one with the glasses) and John Linnell (accordionist, vocalist, without the glasses) don't need much help to rap on about the terrors of society and cultural idiocy.
These guys grew up together and went to grade school in Boston but eventually lost touch, only to find themselves living in the same Brooklyn apartment house years later. Oooh, it's kismet, they said, and began to write songs together.
Now, about 300 songs later, the two have proved to be musical hit men. They reach out to a teenage and college audience that has turned on to the Smiths and Sonic Youth as well as the likes of U2 and Public Enemy. But, somehow, TBMG's music is more provocative, cruel and true.
Mixing trash, parody and a darkly serious edge, Flansburgh and Linnell have come up with their own formula, attracting young ears while avoiding the formula mindlessness that plagues most pop music lyrics.
TMBG ran through the soulful "Ana Ng" and into the harsh "Your Racist Friend" and cynical "Kiss Me Son of God," egging on the near-sellout all-ages crowd with their pogo-stick dance steps and hyperkinetic playing style.
Flansburgh's guitar playing was clean, powerful and crackled with a pop sound that evokes an early Elvis Costello. Linnell mostly sounds like an acid-laced Lawrence Welk or a mellowed Stanley "Buckwheat" Doral — a strange and pleasurable result.