Concert Review: 'They Might Be Giants'

TMBG packs them in at Baltimore's 'Ram's Head Live.' Photo: Amy Phillips

BALTIMORE, February 18, 2012 – You would be forgiven for reading this headline and thinking “Are they still around?” while humming a few bars of their 1990 hit “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” But if you haven’t heard anything by this eclectic band lately, then chances are, you aren’t trying.

“They Might Be Giants”, or TMBG for short, brought their weird, wonderful show to Baltimore’s “Ram’s Head Live” Friday night, adding their own special way of performing to a packed house for good measure.

TMBG onstage in Baltimore.

TMBG onstage in Baltimore. (Photo credits: Amy Phillips.)

TMBG  is the band that has done it all: commercial and critical success in the eighties and nineties, then kids’ albums and jingles, and now, another full length album. All the while, they have mastered the art of joining clever wordplay to catchy tunes. Now the band is on tour again to promote their 18-song album “Join Us“ while reminding us that this is their 30th year of making music.

Novelty song artist Corn Mo opened for the band, showcasing his unique accordion-style playing and funny onstage narrative ramblings. As a warm-up act,  he got the evening off to a strong start which promised a good show ahead.

TMBG then took the stage and performed their new single “When Will You Die?” With John Flansburgh’s and John Linnell’s distinctive vocals, the sound that is TMBG proved to the audience that that its distinct identity remains unchanged. Even in the 21st century, TMBG is all about good music and fun, and fun in good music.

Part of the evening’s fun involved the appearance of sock puppets identified as the Avatars of They. The Avatars were brought to life, animated on the hands of the two Johns in a very strange sketch which was executed before an onstage camera and projected to a screen behind the band. For its part, the band also got the audience involved in a little primal drama when they separated the audience down the middle, ordering one side to chant “Apes! Apes! Apes!” while the other side countered, “People! People! People!” This mock-competition spread the group’s madcap hilarity throughout the audience and amped up the show’s already high level of energy.

TMBG's colorful drum set.

TMBG’s colorful drum set.

TMBG is a band that doesn’t simply perform live. They entertain live. They will introduce their new songs even as they revive the old ones you don’t want to admit you’re old enough to know. And in between the discovery and the nostalgia, they will make their audience laugh and groan at their zany antics. Clearly, this is a band that has mastered writing great lyrics to catchy tunes. So it’s not surprising that when you see them live, you will find yourself driving home humming a song or two.

By the way, if you’re telling yourself that you haven’t heard TMBG in a while, well, you might want to look up the song “Dog on Fire.” Another TMBG creation, it’s now “The Daily Show’s” theme song.

Baltimore based, Amy Phillips is a columnist, blogger, public speaker, twitter addict and all around nerd. 

Follow Amy on Twitter @amydpp.

Amy Phillips is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Amy at her Accidental Musings blog.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Amy Phillips

A former military wife armed with a political science degree and an abundance of opinion. By day, I am SharePoint developer for a large Management Consulting firm. By night, I am blogger, social media junkie, and stressed out single parent. I believe in seeing the humor in any situation and if no humor can be found, then a heavy dose of sarcasm will have to do. 

In addition, I chair the Social Media Club for the Baltimore area. In this capacity, I work with some of the most influential media people in Baltimore and bring social media practitioners together in a productive setting.

I am also the creative force behind Blogger Body Calendar 2011 and the operator of a boutique communications firm Social Pollen – focusing on Blogger PR, content writing, and social media management. 

Contact Amy Phillips

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