They Might Be Giants Bring Nerd Rock to Columbus

The Lantern, February 9, 2018
by Claire Lefton

Over three decades John Linnell and John Flansburgh, the frontmen of They Might Be Giants, have been cranking out non-stop, high-quality alternative rock music as showcased in their show Thursday night at Newport Music Hall.

Although the group’s tour is focused on promoting its newest album I Like Fun, it was clear from the outset that Linnell and Flansburgh just wanted to have a good time with the audience, playing both a few new songs and a bunch of older ones from the band’s massive discography.

With comedy bits and nonsensical dorky lyrics in between songs, it’s clear that They Might Be Giants does loves to have fun on stage. The band is one of the titans of the nerd rock industry for a reason.

I was surprised to see how outstanding the group’s instrumental talents were live. Made up of six people in total, They Might Be Giants is full of several obscure instruments, with the exceptions of vocalist/guitarist Flansburgh, bassist Danny Weinkauf, and other guitarist Dan Miller.

Percussionist Marty Beller played everything from the traditional drum set to the electric timpani. Linnell took vocals, keyboard, sound effects, accordion and alto clarinet. Most impressive was Curt Ramm on horns who, during “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” switched between trumpet and trombone so much that he had one in each hand at all times.

Even after about 36 years performing, Linnell and Flansburg always appeared to be having the time of their lives, whether they were playing newer songs like “I Left My Body,” or tracks from their first album, such as “Number Three.”

The concert was split into sets and had no opening act. The band’s discography is long enough to play a concert that lasts longer than five hours, and still have songs leftover.

Energy from both the audience and They Might Be Giants was through the roof, especially during “The Guitar” and “Twisting.”

There were two encores which contained all old hits like “Dr. Worm” and “Dead,” but what really brought everyone together was an inspiring rendition of “Birdhouse in Your Soul.”

They Might Be Giants never fail to bring a smile to the faces of alternative rock lovers and this high-energy performance, full of jokes, horn solos and wacky effects, was no exception.