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Setlist: (likely incomplete and out of order)
Fan Recaps and Comments:
A show review published in the Kansas City Star, August 9, 1990, titled Duo draws small crowd:
Only 300 fans hear They Might Be Giants perform eccentric, amusing and nasal tunes.
If you wanted to believe behind-the-scenes talk, They Might Be Giants was disappointed with the attendance at its concert Monday at the Shadow. But the Brooklyn pop duo didn't let on.
The ticket price of $14 was steep for a club show and probably had something to do with Giants John Linnell and John Flansburgh attracting only 300 fans - a head count equaled or surpassed in previous local appearances.
These days the Giants are no strangers to headlining for audiences of 1,000 or more. Then again, such shows often are in theaters, offering fans greater comfort than the rigors of Club-land.
The show also was a 21-and-up gig, leaving underage fans without an opportunity to get inside the Westport nightspot.
The fans who were there obviously wanted to be and they cheered the Giants' fast-paced performance. It lasted little more than an hour yet was packed with more than 20 invigorating, amusing and thought-provoking tunes appealing to hop-to-it dancers and toe-tapping musers alike.
Enlargements of vintage U.S. postage stamps (were the Giants sending a message?) provided the backdrop along with a spotlighted metronome that kept loud tick-tock time during several songs. As usual for the two Johns, backing instrumental tapes fleshed out their music without robbing it of spontaneity.
Flansburgh was a spectacled everyman who leaped and spun while choking notes out of his electric guitar or pounding a bass drum. Accordionist/bass saxophonist Linnell was more physically subdued, yet wound his Plastic Man vocals around such songs as "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair," "Anna NG," "She's an Angel," "Dead," "Birdhouse in Your Soul," "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes" and the world-tiltingly fine "Don't Let's Start."
Flansburgh, who not surprisingly tore loose on "Twisted" and "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head," harmonized in nasal heaven with Linnell in "Cowtown," "Purple Toupee," "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," "Kiss Me, Son of God" and the evening's lovably strange finale, "Shoehorn With Teeth." The last included the duo's purposely stiff arm gestures that wouldn't look out of place on painted figures in an ancient Egyptian tomb.
"I'm just trying to keep things in perspective," he chanted. Not a bad idea, really. Now, what about voice lessons?
The Giants' opening act, Carmaig DeForest, would be great singing in a tomb, judging from his oddly syncopated and spooking sing/talk vocal style. "I'm not kind of doing that rock, groove thing," DeForest explained almost defensively to the audience while pausing to tune up his ukelele. He also played electric guitar during his solo spot.
If DeForest isn't one of a kind - his gritty street-beat debt to Lou Reed is inarguable - at least his "Crack's No Worse Than the Fascist Threat" carried an alternative message to masses panicked or numbed by the drug problem.