Walter Mencken 1 p.m., May 1
- Community Blog
They Might Be Greatness
We stumbled in to the the Belly Up already a little drunk, having indulged in a swig of almond tequila in the parking lot.
Perhaps more like a few swigs.
It wasn't our fault, our entry was delayed by a friendly and talkative promoter, Jonny Mars, who we met in the parking lot. We ended up passing the bottle for a few moments longer than minutes, discussing punk shows and concerts of long past. (What should have been one sip turned in to four, and you know what they say about tequila and the floor..)
We were almost late – we shimmied our way over to the bar as an announcement came over the speakers.
“We are They Might Be Giants, and we have bought you beer! Free Stella Artois, until the keg is tapped!”
There was more detail to that announcement, in regards to why, but oh, the Almendrado. It goes down so easily, and makes details so difficult.
We ordered up some free beer, left a hefty tip for the bartender, and headed in to the crowd as the band hit the stage.
I've never seen They Might Be Giants before.
I don' t even mean just live, in concert. I mean, I've never SEEN them before.
I learned their music originally from Tiny Toon Adventures, an animated after-school staple for my generation. They did an entire episode based on They Might Be Giants songs.
I'm not sure when I realized songs like “Particle Man” or “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” were from a real band, not just the minds of Warner Brothers writers.
I do remember that I had two friends in high school who introduced me to the rest of their albums, and that I bought a copy of “Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)” EP and I would sing the catchy and inaccurate lyrics through the hallways between classes. (Don't worry science folks – the song was later retracted with "Why Does The Sun Really Shine? (The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma),” sixteen years later.)
We eventually found our way to what was the perfect place to watch the show. We had room to dance, a wall to lean against, no one standing in front of us, and an unobstructed view of the stage.
These were the most average looking gentleman giving what was a most outstanding and otherworldly performance. Who knew? I could have run in to these guys anywhere and never known it was them.
Actually, I take that back. I can't even imagine what it would be like to hang around with such satirical brilliance.
Time was lost, joy was on, the only thing that mattered was that you were having fun.
John (I'm not sure which John) divided the venue in half with a million-candlepower flashlight. That thing was blindingly bright, which I think was the point.
The audience to his right was instructed that they now represent “The People.”
“This is about intolerance, people!” He explained with a laugh. “The rest of you are Apes! Shout, Apes!”
Our side of the crowd hooted and hollered.
“Yes, YES!” John exclaimed, “Already you're louder than The People!”
The guitars throbbed, and John pointed his flashlight at the other side of the audience.
“People! People!” The right side roared.
“Apes! Apes!” Responded the left, fists pumping in the air.
John waved his light from left to right, right to left, laughing as he watched each side respond with whoops of equally adrenaline filled enthusiasm.
John decided that, for now, the battle had ended in a tie.
From song to satirical song, the screens behind the players were entertaining and disorienting, beautiful and baffling.
I watched knitted puppets sing on screen, only to realize after minutes of them having my undivided attention that those puppets were performing live on stage, 30 feet in front of me.
Puppet show comedy intermission break, performed by John and John? Why, of course. After all, this is the adult show.
After that, for me, there was pure concert bliss, which included dancing, singing, and running in to friends I never would have thought I'd see at a TMBG show. (They may have thought the same about me.)
A few days later, I read an article that had come out prior to the show, a concert preview if you will. The author expressed that even though he hadn't kept up with the band in recent years, hadn't bought an album in over a decade, it didn't matter: He'd never miss a TMBG show.
Now that I've experienced it for myself, I have to say I agree.
They rank up their with Snoop Dogg, and that's pretty damned high. (But that's another story, for another time.)