They Might Be Giants arrived at the Granada Theater in Dallas on Wednesday, May 13, to spend a casual evening with its fans. While the “An Evening with…” tag on the show was primarily to indicate that there was no opening band (or, as vocalist/rhythm guitarist John Flansburgh put it, “we’re opening for ourselves”), it also suggested the friendly, conversational approach the band took to the show. More than anything, it felt like a really big house concert. Topics of conversation between songs included why nobody really refers to this decade as the “teens,” the tragic burning of the original Big Tex, the fact that the date formed a palindrome (leading, of course, into “I Palindrome I”), and what the heck was going on in the murals on the walls of the Granada.
Of course, everyone was there for the music. With a career spanning over three decades and 16 studio albums, there was no way the band could cover everyone’s favorites. They gave it their best shot, though, playing for two full sets plus two encores. About half of the songs from TMBG’s new album Glean made appearances, as well as at least one going back to their 1986 self-titled debut (though not, surprisingly, “Don’t Let’s Start,” their first single). A few covers were slipped in as well, including their most popular, The Four Lads’ “Istanbul (not Constantinople),” and the much more random Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills.” The latter was originally recorded as part of the Onion AV Club’s cover songs project.
They Might Be Giants’ experimentation with musical styles was on display as well. Several of the songs performed originated on the recently resurrected Dial-A-Song service, including a cover of Jonathan Richman’s “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar” featuring John Linnell on the bass clarinet. Near the end of the second set, the band launched into “Fingertips,” a medley of the short sound bites from 1992’s Apollo 18 album.
As with most concerts, the band’s biggest hits appeared largely at the end of the show. “Twisting,” “Ana Ng,” and “Birdhouse in Your Soul” all got huge reactions from the crowd. When all was said, sang, played, and done, even after over two and a half hours of music, nobody was really ready for the evening with They Might Be Giants to end.