I will be the first to tell you that I *hated* They Might be Giants for many, many years. Yea–decades. I blame my idiot college roommate my freshman year Flood had just come out, and he played it incessantly. He had one other CD–NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. That got precisely 3 spins the entire year. Needless to say, I got sick of TMBG right fast.
Not to mention I came from the background of *guitar rock*, not accordion rock. In fact, my musical background forbade the concept of such. It was a completely oxymoronic term. No good band could possibly incorporate such a niche instrument and pull it off. So pretty much the entire CD was full of crap, in my book.
Then there was the lyrical content. “I returned a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the expiration date …” I mean … come on. Really? It made no sense to me. At all. I couldn’t wrap my head around this band, so the only logical thing to do was to dismiss them. Right?
Class, the answer is “WRONG.” No, I should not have. I always considered myself a broad appreciator of music. I thought my tastes were diverse and well-ranged. I like Tool and Yanni. The pendulum doesn’t swing much more widely than that.
Over the years, I’ve had my TMBG hate-wall nicked a few times. Such as the year I noticed that “Malcolm in the Middle”‘s theme song sounded oddly familiar. After a quick Google search, I learned that, indeed, it was The Johns that brought to pass that quirky little ditty. Then after my two girls got to the age where they could sit through “The Mickey Mouse Club House,” again there was an air of familiarity with the music and vocals. Not only did I find out that TMBG had been busily occupied providing the theme song and additional music to that show, but I also learned that they had a whole series of kids’ music. “Okay … how bad can these two be? Musically, I might not appreciate everything they do, but I can at least give props to the magnanimity behind the music.
Last Wednesday, I had to do some work at a remote location with some other people from my office. Not driving, I used the opportunity to catch up on email, Facebook, and see what concerts were on the horizon. To my surprise, TMBG were scheduled to play at The Depot (one of my favorite venues in SLC). I quickly ordered 2 tickets, then texted my wife and told her we were going to go on a “surprise date.” She loves those. Generally, they consist of every idea we have devolving into a couple hours of geocaching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when plans go awry, it’s nice to have a better back-up plan than an old stand-by.
Somehow, she found out about the show and called me to tell me what she thought the mystery date was. I was slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was relieved cuz I *hate* trying to keep things secret. I suck at it, for one thing. For another, the mounting pressure to keep my yapper zipped is exponentially harder the closer we get to “game time.”
We dropped our kids off at our friends’ house, and we drove to SLC. We got to the area, parked, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Panda Express. The walk from Panda to The Depot is short; they’re in the same complex, so it made it nice and easy. That’s another reason I love that venue so much; the food options are astounding. One of these days, I *have* to take her to Ze Tejas. She’d love that. But I digress.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, The Depot is patterned after the House of Blues. There’s a nice bar with assorted snacks and adult drinks, which sits a few steps above the main floor. On the perimeter of the floor are bar tables and stools that sit well above the floor level. There’s a balcony that surrounds the perimeter as well. There isn’t a bad spot in the house from any vantage point. Well, unless you’re sitting on the steps that lead to the balcony, in which case yah–you’ll have a pretty obstructed view. Other than that though, no–not a bad seat anywhere.
The sound at The Depot is unparalleled. It has just the right acoustics to pick up every little nuance of sound. High hats sound like high hats; the bass is clear and distinct. This isn’t like the Energy Solutions Arena (or, for the locals, “The venue formerly known as ‘The Delta Center'”). This sound is pristine.
Jonathan Coulton opened the show. His set was short, but it packed a great, light punch … if there is such a thing. He was gracious and funny. It was just him and his guitar, since his band was occupied elsewhere. I dunno … I like acoustic sets. His was just phenomenal. My favorite was “Je Suis Rick Springfield.” It’s sung mostly in French, with the exception of a few key words that keep it pretty obvious where the tune is intended to go. If you do know French, it’s pretty funny.
TMBG opened with “Celebration.” Well, okay … I’m jumping the gun a bit. They opened with John Flansburgh introducing the band, who currently consists of Dan Miller on guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass,, and Marty Beller on drums. THEN they jumped into “Celebration,” after which they played “Why Does the Sun Shine?” Ironic to the entire first 9/10ths of this post, that’s always been one of my favorites of theirs. I even threw my wife for a loop when I switched out the first two words of the song for, “Your mom.” If you’re familiar with the song and if you’re drinking or eating anything, you may want to take some time to wipe off your monitor and/or keyboard now.
Or maybe you’ve already done so. I do not know.
Anyway, the set was pretty great. 2+ hours long, I recorded the whole thing and posted a few vids to YouTube. “We Live in a Dump,” “Dead,” even the Avatars made a guest appearance.
Here’s a vid from the show. It’s my wife’s favorite. Or close to it, anyway.
I had a similar experience with U2, where I was kind of luke warm to the band, but afterwards, I was just so blown away that I was instantly converted. I would say that this is more than true here because of the level of disdain and for the length of time I spent just not liking them at all. For all their intelligence, wit and whimsy, it’s almost impossible *not* to like them.