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Setlist: (incomplete and possibly out of order)
Fan Recaps and Comments:
"Might Be Giants find the right touch" by Ken Davis
The South Bend Tribune, Sept. 11, 1992:
SOUTH BEND — Experiencing a concert by They Might Be Giants, you watch in awe as a 1,600-strong crowd of students churns like the tide — heaving limp audience members up onto raised hands and passing them like surf-tossed wisps of foam.
They press closely around you and sway against the stage at Notre Dame's Stepan Center, and you share their exhilaration, singing aloud your favorite lines of songs deemed too exotic for tastemakers on FM rock radio.
Those on each side perch precariously on chairs to eyeball the two Johns — Flansburgh on guitar and Linnell on accordion and sax, along with keyboard player and horn man Kurt Hoffman, bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Jon Feinberg.
The soundtrack for this tribal celebration is a jigsaw puzzle of zany melodies, weird lyrics and throwaway punch lines.
In a 90-minute show Thursday, They Might Be Giants packed 30 songs and never failed to entertain with a strange brew of hard-rocking drive and tongue-in-cheek whimsy.
The tunes' titles were among the most absurd and surreal imaginable — efforts including "Purple Toupee," "Particle Man" and "She's Actual Size (But She Seems Much Bigger to Me)" were the order of the evening. But the mob of admirers knew many of the lyrics by heart. Flansburgh dubbed the Stepan facility "the most reverberant room we've ever played in."
Midway through the evening, he introduced a "Stump the Band" segment, soliciting a request from a woman in the audience for Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." The band ten performed it in a mostly recognizable version.
Appropriately cutting guitar quips on the group's rendition of "Your Racist Friend" and squalling harmonica in "Thirty-Two Footsteps" marked the pinnacles of Flansburgh's performance. The guitarist alienated singing chores with Linnell, who proved the more appealing voice with his reedy, winsome tenor.
The group surveyed its entire catalog, from the initial MTV attention-getter, "Don't Let's Start," through samples of its' albums "Lincoln" and "Flood" and a healthy dose of "Apollo 18." Among the best of the recent crop were "Narrow Your Eyes," with a shining Linnell accordion effort, a Flansburgh solo on "See the Constellation" and the juggernaut band grind of "Dig My Grave."
"Indeed, they are giants" by Rolando De Aguiar
The Observer, Sept. 11, 1992:
Acting in violation of all known laws regarding the trafficking of goofiness and wit. They Might Be Giants thrilled a near-full house at Stepan Center last night, and almost completely conquered the cavernous building's acoustical problems.
They Might Be Giants, a Brooklyn duo backed up by three other musicians, played material ranging from the esoteric "Boat of Car," from their 1986 self-titled debut, to their most recent, pop-oriented efforts, such as "I Palindrome I" and "Birdhouse In Your Soul."
The band tried to remain faithful to its longtime fans with songs like "32 Footsteps" and "Ana Ng," but lost the Michiana crowd with several of these efforts. Instead, their more recent, major-label tunes were the ones which got the audience's feet tapping and bodies flying. But the band didn't want bodies to fly.
In a move which must have soothed the University risk management team like a Quaalude and warm milk, guitarist John Flansburgh threatened to stop playing if stage diving and slam dancing became prevalent in the area immediately facing the stage.
They Might Be Giants have been making this request throughout their current tour, and indeed Flansburgh left the stage during the band's encore when a stage diver raised his ire.
The set's strongest efforts included the opening number, "Cowtown," from 1988's Lincoln. With usual accordionist John Linnell playing clarinet, the band got into their fun mode, singing about cows living underwater.
The crowd really got into the act with "Particle Man," as the duo sang about the battles between subatomic particles, geometry and humanity.
Flansburgh and Linnell got the Notre Dame audience completely involved when they announced a game of "Stump the Band." After every member of the Stepan audience had screamed out his favorite cover song, Flansburgh leaned forward into the first row of the crowd and took a request. The woman to whom he spoke had picked a classic: Soft Cell's "Tainted Love."
With but a few lapses in lyrical content, Flansburgh got through the song's verses. Then Linnell picked up the slack and sang Marc Almond's classic refrain to close the tune.
Another fan favorite was the reinterpretation of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" which the band played; a thoroughly bizarre vocal closing to what arguably has been the group's biggest hit.
They Might Be Giants fought the horrendous acoustics of Stepan's dome from the moment they walked on the stage, when Flansburgh addressed the immensity of the building. "It's great to be here in the most cavernous room we have ever been in," he said. "Never before have we been able to hear this many echoes coming from the stage."
They Might Be Giants' opening act was Victoria's Real Secret, a campus band which apparently had garnered quite a following throughout the South Bend area. The band's members were surprised at the reaction they received from last night's crowd.
"I went up there (on stage) thinking everybody would be wanting They Might Be Giants," said lead singer Steve Sostak. "But then they all got into our music."
The Student Union Board, and Music Commissioner Ryan Hallford pulled off a minor coup by getting the band of They Might Be Giants' stature to play Notre Dame at a reasonable price, but Hallford insists that there is more to come. "This is going to be the best year ever for concerts at Notre Dame," said Hallford. "And I'm not sure what's coming next."