TMBG's First Avenue Setlist
04/19 Madison, WI @ Barrymore Theatre
04/21 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
04/22 Albany, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
04/23 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
04/24 Washington DC @ 9:30 Club
04/25 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
04/26 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall
05/01 Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent
05/02 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
05/03 San Diego, CA @ Belly Up
05/05 Salt Lake City, UT @ Depot
05/06 Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
05/07 Seattle, WA @ Neptune
05/08 Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
05/09 San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
05/10 San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
05/13 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
05/14 Austin, TX @ Stubb's
05/15 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
05/16 St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
05/17 Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
05/31 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall
at Electric Fetus
They Might Be Giants played some new material, taken from their forthcoming Glean album ("Erase", "I Can Help The Next In Line", and "Madam, I Challenge You To A Duel"). Although the album is not officially released, they brought some to sell for their autographed session after the show. The nice thing about them is that they will stay and sign everything.
My favorite songs from their Electric Fetus set were "Doctor Worm" (from Nickelodeon's KaBlam! show) and "Number Three" (from their first album). Everyone seemed to love the set closer "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", with plenty of balloons flying up in the air. Although that song is not an TMBG original, no one can disagree when I say that the band took "Istanbul" and made it their own, so in some small way it's as much TMBG's song as The Four Lads.
Just to explain about TMBG's latest Glean album coming this week (April 21st), I can tell you that they are songs that were featured on their 2015 rebooted Dial-A-Song service. Starting in January, the band decided to undertake an ambitious project: make available a new song every Monday at midnight. The first fifteen songs were collected into Glean, and I'm assuming in about three months from now, we're going to see another collection from Idlewild Records. We've seen this sort of thing before, from Jonathan Coulton's "Thing A Week" to Ash's "A to Z" project, and what I can say is that it's a mix bag. Sometime there are shiny gems, but with too many songs in a short time, sometime it is just too overwhelming.
Full disclosure, I'm a big TMBG, at least pre-No! and ABCs/1,2,3s. I got into TMBG during Flood, that "brand new album from 1990." I tracked down their two previous releases (self-titled debut album and Lincoln) and spent many hours studying its lyrics. I immediately got Apollo 18 when it was released, and steadily bought all of their albums, including Miscellaneous T, on release date after that. Of course when the children albums were introduced, I realized TMBG had outgrown me (that's a strange way of putting it), and their new "simple" music were just not meant for me. On retrospect, the two Johns were looking at the children albums as part of the long game... meaning that by now, those kids are now devoted fans.
In 2009, with Join Us, the duo returned to their more experimental/alternative origins, and I'm happy to say that I'm back on the TMBG train. When I saw them at the sold out show at First Avenue in 2013, it was seriously one of the best shows I've ever seen. The setlist was just amazing, plenty of old songs and just handful of new songs (from Nanobots).
Having said all that, if you love TMBG, this is the tour you must see. There are no opening bands, so it's the full TMBG-monty. You get two full sets from them and a double encore (which they did last year as well), totaling slightly over two hours of TMBG goodness. I'm telling you from a fans' perspective, you get your money's worth.
The First Avenue show on Saturday was billed as "An Evening With They Might Be Giants" and had a restriction of 18+. So, yes, there were some salty language... and yes, they encouraged us to buy these "tiny alcoholic particle" drinks at the bar in the back. After "Can't Keep Johnny Down", the two Johns started talking about how much they love Minneapolis, because they've been to "All kind of sh** cities. Most of them blow." Flansburgh didn't want to drop any cities name, but Linnell coughed up "Vancouver". Apparently they don't have a big fanbase in Vancouver, and lead them to describe They Might Be Giants as the equivalent to The Bare Naked Ladies of the USA.
There was also a telephone skit, where "Mama TMBG" would call the Dial-A-Song operator and talked about their vacation (from Vancouver) and referencing 80s movie "Midnight Run", but mixing it up with 70s movie "Midnight Express" (they would later add to this joke with "Midnight Oil"). That was a lot of fun, it's a shame that they didn't do more skits like that (or the puppet show from last year's concert).
The band mixed in those new Dial-A-Song songs, including their new single "Answer", which they said they were going to play on Conan O'Brien this week.
After the 20 minute intermission, the band came back for the second set, starting with their "Minneapolis", aka the "First Avenue Stage" song, which they wrote for the digital-only Venue album. According to Linnell, the song was, in fact, about them fighting each other, right before taking command of the "First Avenue Stage".
"Istanbul (not Constantinople)" got a weird psychedelic version, keeping the song fresh. They play the song every night, so it would make sense the change it up every time.
They didn't do "We're the Replacements", which would have been a nice tribute to the Minneapolis band, but they did do one of my favorite early songs, "They'll Need a Crane" along with set closer "Ana Ng".
The encore(s) started with "Mammals", which got a nice singalong from the front. I've always had a problem with that line, "koala bears and hogs", because koalas are marsupials.
This was followed by "Older" from the Malcolm in the Middle soundtrack (wish it was "Boss of Me" instead...), and ending with their most popular song, "Birdhouse in Your Soul".
After leaving the stage, the band came back again for second encore, "Robot Parade"... only extending it with personalized lyrics like "thank you for being here."
Again, like I said, if you love They Might Be Giants, this tour is basically for the fans. I'm happy to see that the band is more popular than ever, selling out most of their US shows. No surprise to anyone, but Vancouver is not listed as a stop on this 2015 tour.
They Might Be Giants at First Avenue, Minneapolis (18 April 2015)