They Might Be Giants, 3/31, Stubb's, Austin

Music Felon, April 8, 2016
by Greg Ackerman

How does a music fan and journalist live for 45 years and not see a They Might Be Giants (TMBG) performance until March 31 when the prolific indie-pop act landed at Stubb’s BBQ for an appearance at the venue? No idea. This is an experienced live band who have honed their show into a consistent, high-energy, feel-good performance. The promise of a compete run-though of their most popular record, 1990’s platinum-selling Flood is likely what led to their first sold-out Stubb’s show.

Before the nerdy members of TMBG began playing that record the group covered a wide swath of their considerable catalog playing 17 songs including a Destiny’s Child cover ("Bills, Bills, Bills") and a tune from one of their kid’s albums. Keyboardist and vocalist John Linnell mentioned the group has made a few records for children before continuing on. The band leader was stationed front and center while the “other John,” Flansburgh cavorted about the stage with his guitar.

The first set concluded with a lusty version of "The Statue Got Me High" that left fans grinning from ear-to-ear. True to TMBG fashion, the band returned 20 minutes later to cover Flood… back to front, leading off with "Road Movie to Berlin". The crowd sang along to nearly every song in an hour-long nostalgic love fest.

A raucous version of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" with the tune’s up tempo pace was followed by "Lucky Ball and Chain", "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and the "Theme from Flood". A single encore, "She’s An Angel" was played after Linnell mentioned the 11pm curfew and promised to get through the song before “they kick us out.”

Visit the TMBG website and pay what you want for their latest effort, Phone Power. The band has a few dates left on the tour winding up in Washington D.C. for the two gigs at the USA Science and Engineering Festival before heading home to New York. Their schedule also includes a one-off show in Denver on June 20 at the Ogden Theatre.