Institute of Contemporary Art, London, January 19, 1989

Unknown source

The Kooky Crew. They Might Be Giants are the duo plagued by that damned unfashionable "wacky Yanks" tag that makes them out to be peddlers of some sort of second-rate loony tunes. They're in danger of being passed over simply because they seem to be pissing about with pop.

They Might Be Giants are from New York, although they're about as streetwise as Deputy Dog. Def they ain't. It's a good point to focus on, for the Giants often come close to cartoon capery, what with John number one's heavy metal tomfoolery--a sort of Spinal Tap gross out with glasses and sensible shoes, politely raucous rather than a great rock barf out. "(She was a) Hotel Detective" is fuzzball fever, a real gumball pop song. Sharp rather than sweet.

John number two plays accordion "like the Charles Manson Orchestra." He's the rather more sensible one. "Lie Still, Little Bottle," though, is not, it's almost pantomime, especially when a friend is invited to jam on stage, with a tree branch. Then there's the brisk, trad chaos of "Polka," a oppportunity for John number one to roll about a bit and generally ham it up.

It's all fun and games, sure, and at times it's just as pop was meant to be--three minutes (and under) of playful hooklined entertainment. But then they start to shout "Kill George Bush" as if it's the only thing of any importance. And then there's the line in "Kiss Me, Son of God" about building empires "on the blood of the exploited working class." Serious stuff that's all but overlooked. Maybe they have a future after all--the condemned men live.