From This Might Be A Wiki

They Might Be Giants
— with Gregory Douglass opening —
First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN
August 4, 2002 at 5:00 PM

Fan Recaps and Comments:

Review by Adam Kintopf:
I was a little apprehensive about this show, which was the second one TMBG did at First Ave this past weekend. This one was the all-ages show (unfortunately I hadn't been able to make the 21+ one the night before), and I had gotten it into my head that it was going to be "family-friendly" (read: precious and watered-down). Even the frontman for opening act Gregory Douglass (a talented, high-energy, but ultimately generic-sounding guitar duo), after surveying the face piercings, bared cleavage, and glowing cigarette tips in the crowd, said, "We were under the impression this was going to be a children's show..." And, while there did seem to be a couple of teenagers here and there with their parents, the crowd as a whole was made up of pretty typical twentysomething TMBG-heads.

Imagine my relief, then, when barely three minutes into the show (in the middle of "The Guitar") John Flansburgh began screaming, "I say Dan Miller, you say 'Fuck yeah!'" (At another point, he would cheerfully refer to John Linnell and the Dans as "you motherfuckers.") This set the tone for what would be a wild show, quite a bit better than their First Avenue appearance last fall, I think.

This was for a couple of reasons. First, even though the structuring of their set wasn't exactly watertight, the programming had a wonderful fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants spontaneity to it. John Linnell said that this was the "classic" show, and by that he seemed to mean that they'd be revisiting lesser-known (but well-loved) numbers from their earlier albums. And, in general, they eschewed yawn-inducing "crowd-pleasers" (there was no "Istanbul," no "Why Does the Sun Shine?") in favor of marvelous surprises like "The Famous Polka," "Pet Name," "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?", and "Dig My Grave." "Don't Let's Start," with Flansburgh playing lead guitar, also came as quite a shock—I was under the impression they were sick of the song, and had declared a moratorium on it. Linnell said that they hadn't rehearsed some of the numbers at all, adding, "People seem to dig that, though—'Play something where you have to look at your fingers!'"

Oh, John Linnell. At the show last year he seemed to have been heavily sedated, but I've never seen him more alive than he was last night. He was joking around with the band and the audience, smiling and laughing (when he forgot a line in "Till My Head Falls Off," he just sang baby-talk and grinned sheepishly), doing funny voices, and tossing his Breck-girl hair (which is long again). It was the first time I've seen him hold his own onstage with Flansburgh.

The Johns seemed happy to be in Minneapolis. (Flansburgh said, "It's nice to be here, but it's crazy nice to be here two days in a row.") Flansburgh kept playing after the cutoff on "The Famous Polka," and was ridiculed for it by Linnell and the Dans. Flansburgh introduced Spin the Dial by saying, "Minnesota law requires us to inform you that the only fake thing about this part of the show is the emotion we appear to put into every performance." This segment, which frankly sucked last year, couldn't have been funnier this time, with Flansburgh faking a baritone opera aria and then screeching "The Warrior" in the Patty-Smyth octave. They must have had fun with this song because they went back into it twice in the middle of "Older." (I thought this was hilarious, but a lot of the crowd didn't even seem to recognize the song. It dates me, I guess.) I was surprised, too, that in this "family-friendly" show they saved most of the No! stuff for the second encore. "John Lee Supertaster," which on the album struck me as rather run-of-the-mill Mono-Puff-esque Flansburgh hipsterism, really rocked onstage. And before they played the final three kids' songs, Flans said to Linnell, "Let's practice the segue we're going to do on TV—no, don't look at your list, John, just use your mind."

The icing on the cake was a flyer they handed out advertising a high-concept, performance-art TMBG show that's going to happen at Garrison Keillor's Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul in October. It's going to be based on the group's collaboration with McSweeney's literary magazine last year, and should be weird and wonderful.

Review by Shawna Lee, excerpted from this article:
It was an all-ages show, but nary a small child was seen in the audience, save the few teens and pre-teens with parents. This barely fazed me while my anticipation gripped my spinal cord and I eyed the stage for the grand entrance.

The lights fell. Soon, They Might Be Giants took the stage, immediately starting with the song "James K. Polk" and making spectacular use of their cannon filled with confetti! Flansburgh played his red left-handed Gibson as Linnell alternated between keyboard and accordion. As both switched and/or harmonized lead vocal, the Band of Dans backed them up: Dan Miller on electric guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass and Dan Hickey on drums.

The songs performed were so different, that I was dancing one minute, still the next and jumping around another! Their music is diverse with a wide range of styles and genres, but maintains a catchy vibe, making it tricky to describe the music! But seeing and hearing them live is quite the experience! Flansburgh was all over the stage, revving up the crowd and dancing with his guitar and Linnell seemed enthusiastic as he jumped up and down at one point, while playing keyboard.

Near the end, they came out for an encore and did the popular song "Birdhouse in Your Soul", leaving people in a happy frenzy. When I thought it was over, they came out and did a second encore with a few of their songs from No!, ending the show with a slower rock song, "Sleepwalkers", a perfect close for the evening!