John Linnell and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants are known for entertaining a crowd, and the band’s recent Belly Up gig was a shining example of TMBG’s brain-tickling showmanship.
Touring to support new album Glean, with two sets for maximum nerdiness, and free beer from the Green Flash Brewing Company, the band’s performance at the Belly Up was pure TMBG.
Having already performed the previous two nights in L.A. and the O.C., the Brooklynites showed no signs of exhaustion, roaring to life right out of the gate with “Can’t Keep Johnny Down.”
Rather than playing each track from Glean consecutively, the band opted to integrate the album into two full sets of crowd favorites. New songs like “Music Jail, Pt. 1 & 2,” “I Can Help the Next in Line,” and “Unpronounceable” were swaddled among long-time favorites “The Mesopotamians,” “James K. Polk,” and “Instabul (Not Constantinople).”
The highlight of the night was introduced as the “most unlikely cover by the most unlikely band,” with Linnell and Flansburgh committing 100% to a fierce rendition of the 90s classic by Destiny’s Child, “Bills Bills Bills.”
The band closed the first encore with “Fingertips,” a bizarre collection of over 20 song bites from 1992’s Apollo 18. The song is a fitting summation of TMBG’s signature experimentation with a variety of music genres.
They Might Be Giants fans are a passionate lot, and the crowd at the Belly Up was no exception. Proudly outfitted in new and worn TMBG tees, everyone up front sang along and pogoed in place, with most forgoing free beer to secure spots directly in front of the stage.
The two hours breezed by, and almost every album in the band’s catalog was represented. It was hard to accept the show was over once the house lights turned on. Members of TMBG’s backing band returned to the stage after the end of the second encore to hand out free Dial-A-Song stickers. Rather than throwing out a pile to the eager crowd and hurrying away, the band members patiently handed out these small tokens to each outstretched hand, one-by-one. It was a really impressive way to treat fans, as if the free beer wasn’t enough. Please, please come back soon, guys.
Photos: They Might Be Giants at the Belly Up