They Might Be Giants, 9:30 club, Washington DC., a review


So as I posted on Friday, I attended a They Might Be Giants concert at the 9:30 club here in Washington DC. This was the third time I've seen them live, the first being at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC in mid-2006, and the second being at Starr Hill Music Hall in Charlottesville, VA.

The Orange Peel was where I first experienced a TMBG live, which was completely awesome due to my friends and I having arrived early enough to be directly in front of the stage. John Flansburgh & "Magic" Dan Miller flicked us a few of their used guitar picks which added immensely to the coolness of the evening. They came out for two encores & played most of all of their 'hits'.


The Starr Hill Music Hall concert wasn't as good, for me personally, as the concert last year. There is a small back-story to this...two very good friends of mine, Ken & Ryan, had told me about this concert about a month before it was to happen & asked if I wanted to meet them in Charlottesville that evening to go w/ them. A third friend of ours, Neil, was going to come as well. I ordered my tickets immediately but my friends waited until last minute, after it had sold out. The end result was my having to go it alone. Luckily I got out of work early that evening & got down to C-Ville well before it started, had dinner downstairs at the Starr Hill restaurant, and got in the line early to get inside. I met up with two very nice gals there who kept me company all throughout the concert. The venue itself was tiny and cramped. The 'stage'  was a small dias in the corner of the room with barely enough room for the entire band to stand on, much less with their instruments as well. Furthermore, TMBG were set to release their new album, The Else, in two or three weeks after this concert. Because of this, I suspect, they played a lot of their new music to try to give it some exposure. I liked it but, not having heard it before or knowing the lyrics in advance like I do for so many of their other songs, it was hard to really get into this concert. Now, don't get me wrong, they played a lot of their old stuff too, but I enjoyed the first concert much much more.

TMBG 4This bring us to the present; My increasingly dear friend hannah had acquiesced to accompany me to this event over a month ago when I first found out TMBG were coming to DC. I enjoy going to concerts but I enjoy it so much more when I have someone to share the experience with. Due to our having too much fun w/ teh LOLcats at hannah's apt beforehand we skipped out of the opener, despite promising reviews I saw online. We arrived at the concert early enough before the appearance of, John, John, Dan, Dan, and Dan, to have a beer and for me to buy their newest hoodie (which I subsequently left at hannah's apt later that night - sigh). With hannah's crowd maneuvering expertise, we managed a spot half-way to the stage on the left side of the venue, although, it was a constant battle throughout the evening due to hannah being vertically challenged. At one point I was tempted to lift her up in front of me but decided against it due to my overly geeky qualities in regards to upper body strength. This problem was diminished later in the concert as various people moved away from us & we were able to get closer to the stage.

TMBG came out & opened with two or three new songs off of The Else, after which they played an older song or two. The Triceratops Brass Section was present, which I suspected might happen given this was a large venue for them w/ plenty of stage room. This was particularly exciting for me as the other TMBG concerts I've been to have just been the core band. A LOT of TMBG songs have big-band brass parts to the music that you're only able to hear on the studio recordings songs. To experience these songs sans-brass section doesn't fully do them justice. Not only were these guys there....but these guys were THERE. The three together, a trumpet, trombone & tenor saxophone blew the roof off of the place. These guys could blow! They played 4 or 5 songs w/ the band before departing the stage, only to come back later in the concert for more songs & during one or two of the THREE encores. TMBG played a lot of the songs from The Else, which I have grown to love as one of my favorite albums of theirs, along with old standards such as Doctor Worm, Birdhouse In Your Soul, Particle Man, Purple Toupee, Boss of Me, New York, Istanbul, The Mesopotamians(from The Else but a defacto new standard), Alphabet of Nations, Damn Good Times, Turn Around, and Why Does The Sun Shine?. The only song I wish hannah could have heard, but they didn't play, was Experimental Film. Oh well - I'll just deluge her w/ it in the car sometime. Notable events in the concert were Flansburgh making his usual reference to how much he hates Bush, Linnell & Flansburgh's usual bit "Phone Calls From The Dead", Flansburgh letting a group of fans play his guitar during the middle of a song, Flansburgh bringing out a marching style bass drum w/ a giant TMBG logo on it during one song, and "Magic" Dan Miller opening the third & final encore w/ a lead in to Istanbul on his acoustic guitar. I think this was my favorite TMBG concert to date. I can't wait to see them as many times as possible next year - I plan to go to any & all concert's they have within a 2 hour radius (driving) of DC.