I can’t tell you the exact moment I became a fan of They Might Be Giants. It would have been 5th or 6th grade. One of my friends at the time had an album or two and I inevitably saw their appearance on Tiny Toons. I do remember that it was in 6th grade, the 1994-1995 school year, that I became obsessed with my cassette of “Flood.” That year, my dad took me to see them perform at the Palace Theatre in New Haven. It was part of their tour in support of the “John Henry” album. I had been to see live music before–my parents made sure of that–but this was my first “rock concert.”
Without thinking about it, I’ve been seeing them perform and buying their music for just about 20 years. I can’t think of any other band I’ve been a fan of for as long and as reliably. I could list the other albums I bought and the bands I was into in 6th grade, no challenge there, but for the most part, I haven’t been following those bands nearly as closely. (For context, Weezer’s Blue Album, Green Day’s Dookie, and The Offspring’s Smash all came out that year and received heavy rotation. I’ve lost touch with all three of those bands.)
This past Thursday, they played the House of Blues Boston. My friend Paul and I got there as soon as we could and got standing room right up against the stage. I don’t think I’ve ever been this close for a TMBG show since seeing them at Toad’s Place in New Haven in high school. Once they start playing, I immediately revert back to fanboy. It could have been months, or even years since I last listened to a song, but I remember every word. Hearing new songs is just as exciting as I hadn’t yet picked up their new record. In a very surprising turn of events, between songs, guitarist John Flansburgh presented me with a signed copy of “Glean.” I had no words in that moment.
I’ve never been great at photographing shows, but I was so close that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I took the photo at the top of this post. You can see more shots here on flickr. I was close enough to tune the guitars.
I also took video of them performing a cover of “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child. Because, of course they’re covering Destiny’s Child.
I may not know the words to every song as I used to–I don’t internalize lyrics the way I did in high school, for TMBG or any band–but I still get just as excited about this band as I ever did.
Good reads on They Might Be Giants:
- Consequence of Sound – They Might Be Giants: View From the Middle of a Career
- Slate – Say I’m the Only Bee in Your Bonnet, “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and the revolution it signified.