Tag Archives: They Might Be Giants
John Flansburgh (who recently spoke to Time Out New York about some of his favorite things) and John Linnell have been making music as They Might Be Giants since 1982. For a while it was just the two of them and a drum machine. They didn’t even have a full backing band for nearly a decade. But three decades is a long career, and over that time TMBG have been prolific: six live albums, eight compilations, 21 EPs and 16 LPs, including this year’s well-received Nanobots (stream it below), about which Paste says, “They Might Be Giants have consistently released material that is both new and original without turning into a machine churning out small caricatures of their songs, and on Nanobots they prove that 30 years later, they can still write infectiously catchy, quirky songs about combustible heads, nanobots and black ops that don’t feel contrived in the least.” Plus, They Might Be Giants (above, performing “Birdhouse in Your Soul”) don’t like to be pigeonholed, instead they cover a wide musical terrain, from alternative to children’s music to TV and movie soundtracks. But make no mistake, when they hit Terminal 5 tomorrow night, they’re coming to rock. And not only will it be the Brooklyn band’s “final U.S. performance for the foreseeable future,” but they’ll also take a look back by playing their first album in its entirety.
WHY? are such a pleasantly odd band that it’s hard to not spend all your energy describing what makes them so unique as opposed to so damn good, but I’ll do my best to elaborate on both. WHY? began as a stage name for the then Berkeley, Calif.–based artist Yoni Wolf in 2004, although he’s now based out of his hometown, Cincinnati, or in his own words: “the land of Procter & Gamble and cop scandals.” The group plays a wide range of instruments and doesn’t shy away from the occasional three-part harmony. And on their most recent album, last year’s Mumps, Etc. (stream it below), almost everything is centered around rhythm—and despite all the instrumentation, their sound never feels cluttered. If WHY? (above, playing “Sod in the Seed” for Altar TV) fall under any one genre, it’d be rap, but it’s such a peculiar form of rap that the moniker indie is usually also involved. Wolf’s singing voice sounds almost like what you’d imagine They Might Be Giants to sound like if they ever began rapping. They’re incredibly interesting, and you can see them tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg. —Dan Rickershauser
They Might Be Giants – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 30, 2012
They Might Be Giants are certifiable Brooklyn OGs, a fact most of last night’s crowd knew even before John Flansburgh mentioned he used to live on N. 5th St. back when Music Hall of Williamsburg was still called Northsix. It ran deeper still. Most in the audience possessed intimate, personal memories of the Reagan years, and most probably knew They Might Be Giants once ran a service called Dial-A-Song where fans, or anyone really, could call a local Brooklyn number and hear Flansburgh and John Linnell sing songs they had recorded on their answering machine. Further, for the They Might Be Giants completist, many of these fans certainly knew the hidden track on 1996’s Factory Showroom, “Token Back to Brooklyn,” could only be accessed by pressing the rewind button on your CD player during the album’s first song. A lot has changed in Brooklyn, but They Might Be Giants have remained largely the same: still weird, still deeply postmodern and still churning out genre-spanning pop by the fistful.
Over three nights at Music Hall of Williamsburg, TMBG are playing a different set of albums each night spanning the band’s 30-year career. Last night, the second, the audience was treated to music from Lincoln and Flood, two early records, as well as a few songs from their latest LP, Join Us, and the upcoming Nanobots, the latter of which, unsurprisingly, will feature 25 songs. The band played their eponymous song, “They Might Be Giants,” then playing other Flood material, “Letterbox” and “Someone Keeps Moving My Chair” before switching to Lincoln songs “Cowtown,” “Lie Still, Little Bottle” and “Pencil Rain.” Each featured the group’s signature pop hooks, the Johns looking a bit older but still switching from a range of instruments with deftness and ease.
The second half of the set contained the band’s bigger songs, “Ana Ng,” “Minimum Wage” and “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” They Might Be Giants closed with “Hey Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal,” which joked openly about “pay-for-play” radio. It was a fitting end, even before the next two encores, a bit of commercial humor for a band that’s seen the borough make and break so many other bands since TMBG formed in 1982. It didn’t mean they were bitter—“Birdhouse in Your Soul” went to No. 3 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart in 1990—just old enough to see the horizon for what it is, a moving target. Appropriately, they closed the night with “The Mesopotamians,” a song about a fictional rock band that took the name of the long lost civilization and worried if anyone would remember or understand them, a bit like a band that might have been giants in a borough like Brooklyn. —Geoff Nelson
(They Might Be Giants play Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight.)
They Might Be Giants close out 2012 in style with three sold-out shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Do you want to go but don’t have tickets? Well you could be in luck because The House List is giving away two of them to Friday’s show. Want them to be yours? Try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, being sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (They Might Be Giants, 12/29) and a brief message explaining why your year was so bad you deserve a free night out on the last Saturday of 2012. Eddie Bruiser, who was actually pretty pleased with his own year, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Why? – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 20, 2012
Why? are such an odd band that it’s hard to not spend all your energy describing what makes them so unique as opposed to so damn good, but I’ll do my best to elaborate on both. Why? began as a stage name for the then Berkeley, Calif.–based artist Yoni Wolf in 2004, although he’s now based out of his hometown, Cincinnati, or in his own words: “the land of Procter & Gamble and cop scandals.” The group is currently made up of six people, with members filling the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage last night with almost every instrument imaginable. Occasionally there were two drummers involved, and at other times, it was two xylophones. There were even some moments of three-part harmonies. Almost everything was centered around rhythm, and despite all the instrumentation, their sound never felt cluttered. And everything right down to the competing tones of two ringing xylophone parts felt deliberate.
If Why? fall under any individual genre it’d be rap, although it’s such a peculiar form of rap that the moniker indie is usually also involved. Wolf’s singing voice sounded almost like what you’d imagine They Might Be Giants to sound like if they ever began rapping. With a backing band of five playing rhythm-heavy arrangements, Wolf’s cadence was allowed to pick and choose what beats to hit and follow. The organic nature of the arrangements also allowed for the backing band to drop out completely at times, giving Wolf the breathing room to spit out verses a cappella before the rest of the band jumped back in to fill the void. The set was heavy on songs from the freshly released Mumps, Etc., although Why? were sure to include some favorites from Alopecia as well, including “The Hollows,” “Good Friday” and the crowd-pleasing “The Vowels, Part 2.” And then the show ended with “Gemini Birthday Song,” off their first full-length, Elephant Eyelash. —Dan Rickershauser
John Flansburgh and John Linnell have been making music as They Might Be Giants since 1982. For a while it was just the two of them and a drum machine. They didn’t even have a full backing band for nearly a decade. But 30 years is a long career, and over that time TMBG have been prolific: six live albums, nine compilations, 15 LPs, including last year’s Join Us, and 20 EPs. Plus, they’ve covered a wide musical terrain, from alternative to children’s music to TV and movie soundtracks. But make no mistake, when They Might Be Giants play Terminal 5 tomorrow night, they’re coming to rock.
Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | photography.notch.org/music
Tags: Charles Bissell, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nada Surf, Photos, Raise the Roof: a Benefit for the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center, They Might Be Giants
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Nada Surf, They Might Be Giants and Charles Bissell (of the Wrens) play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Tuesday, October 28th. The show is entitled Raise the Roof: a Benefit for the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center, and 100 percent of ticket sales go toward the cause. Nada Surf will close the show with a full-on electric performance, and in an effort to get out the word, the band’s singer and guitarist, Matthew Caws, took the time to answer five questions for The House List.
Which band have you seen play live the most often (excluding bands you’ve toured with)?
Probably Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. When Fegmania came out, I’d already been turned into a fan by my sister, so I went to every area show for a few years. So maybe 18 shows? Then friends’ shows: Tom Beaujour (Communist Manifesto, Soulcraft, Shake Appeal, True Love), Phil Yanos (the Accidents, Dangaru, Driver X), Lianne Smith, Marykate O’Neil and Chavez.
Which band (or bands) that you listened to growing up do you still listen to?
The Beatles, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, David Bowie, Talking Heads, R.E.M., Elliott Smith and Fugazi. Those last couple were in my 20s, but we’re still growing up then, aren’t we?
Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much?
I keep accidentally lifting Brian Eno melodies. OK, two so far, but still, I gotta stop.
Your after-party is at Hi-Fi, the Avenue A bar known for its endless jukebox, and The House List gives you a buck. Which three songs are you playing?
“Kamloops,” by Flin Flon, “Glow Girl,” by the Who and “The Puppet,” by Echo and the Bunnymen.
It’s 4 a.m. and last call has come and gone. What’s your next move?
It’s not over until the deli guy sings, and he never does. That being said, at 4, I’m probably headed to bed or at least seriously considering it. —R. Zizmor
Try to win a pair of tickets for a great cause and a night of killer music. Just fill out the form below, listing your name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Raise the Roof, 10/28) and a brief message telling us why you want to go. Eddie Bruiser will notify the winner by noon on Wednesday, October 28th. Good luck.
Tags: Charles Bissell, Eddie Bruiser, Eddie Bruiser Ticket Giveaway, Matthew Caws, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nada Surf, Raise the Roof: a Benefit for the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center, the Wrens, They Might Be Giants
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