Sunday, October 11, 2009

They Might Be Giants!*

Don't read my blog if you don't like They Might Be Giants

Here's a play-by-play of how I got to know my favorite band They Might Be Giants.

Nickelodeon used to have a music video show called Nick Rocks. This was probably right after the You Can't Do That On Television days. I think it aired right before or after The Monkees. I'm guessing that I was probably in 7th grade or so. They Might Be Giants hosted, and I remember digging a few of their songs. While I don't remember for sure, I think they played this video:

They Might Be Giants - Don't Let's Start from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

Move ahead to sophomore year in Chris Berry's car (AKA Jupitwo. Chris, not the car). I spotted a couple They Might Be Giants tapes and remembered seeing them on Nick Rocks. Flood had just come out. I remember immediately liking Particle Man, though I liked the whole album. I think we listened to some TMBG while camping overnight in Downtown Concord for Paul McCartney tickets. A lot of people were introduced to Particle Man by the Tiny Toons.

Music Videos by VideoCure

The first time I saw them in concert was in San Francisco in the summer after I graduated high school. I went with Moshe and Eric. I wore the Kaboom shirt. While we were waiting outside, there was a homeless guy who made the kaboom hand motions. In the concert, the did something called Request-A-Song, where you can request ANY song. Someone requested YMCA. that was the Apollo 18 tour.

They Might Be Giants-The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)

They Might Be Giants|MySpace Music Videos

I was living in the dorms in San Diego when John Henry came out. I listened to it for the first time in my dorm room in the middle of the afternoon, cranked up pretty loud. Nobody else was around. It was cool until halfway through the album when someone did come around. O, Do Not Forsake Me was playing. Loud. For those of you who know the song, you'll understand.

It was later that year when I saw They Might Be Giants for the second time, still in San Diego. I went with one of the guys in my dorm, Frank, and his friends. Frank Black (Black Francis from the Pixies) opened for them with an acoustic show. I remember it being cool. He sang Duke of Earl. We were right up front on the stage. At one point, John Flansburg knelt down and spoke to one of the people in our group. He said, "Hey, blkas laksj lkj alsfj lasdj and asdl asdlkj dslkj. I appreciate it." All any of us heard was "Hey" and the last three words. We don't know if he was scolded for something or what, but we assumed he told him something like, "Hey, thanks for rocking so hard. I appreciate it." All during the concert, he girl behind me sang loud and out of tune. I sometimes still hear her voice when I listen to Birdhouse in Your Soul. Someone kept yelling out "She's An Angel!" They never played it. But because of that, it has become one of my favorite TMBG songs.

The next time I saw them was in San Francisco with Lance. I remember puppets during Exquisite Dead Guy - they were a bit creepy but mostly cool. I don't think they are the smae puppets they use now as pictured. I remember being asked to do the congo during No One Knows My Plan, which you might know as one of the themes to Cartoon Planet starring Space Ghost. I remember Lance deciding that after the concert, he needed to buy condoms while be bought a pack of pear cider in a grocery store in San Francisco.

I remember watching Malcolm in the Middle for the first time and realizing right away that TMBG was doing not only the theme music. Then they played another TMBG song later on, and it was cool. I didn't recognize TMBG on the theme to The Daily Show, but wasn't surprised when I learned it was.

The last time I saw They Might Be Giants was in San Francisco, again with Lance, this time with Kirsti as well. We were in the front, and because of that we got to play the guitar. Well, sort of. Flansburg held out the guitar and we strummed it. You can totally hear us on the recording, and we rocked. I remember that if we hadn't caught a taxi to the BART station afterwards, we would have missed the last BART train. I don't think we knew that when we caught the taxi. I was disappointed that they didn't play Experimental Film.

They Might Be Giants - Experimental Film from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

I always seem to be disappointed with every new They Might Be Giants album the first time I hear it. I always think that this is the one where they finally lost it and they suck. But there's always one catchy song. So I listen to that song again and give the album another chance. And I usually find another song I like. And on and on until I realize that they release very few songs that I don't like.

My current favorite TMBG song is Am I Awake? (the video isn't TMBG, just the music, so close your eyes.)

While I was typing this, lots of other cool TMBG memories came back, such as seeing a James Ensor painting in Belgium, playing James K. Polk in class, playing No! in class, "Please Pass the Milk" while kids were working on maps after school, and driving around listening to Dr. Worm after a doomed job interview and before a wedding. All Damn Good Times.

*While this title isn't a homage to a specific Stan Lee title, I think it certainly sounds like one.


Lance Christian Johnson said...

I agree about the title.

Anonymous said...

It’s hard to believe that you really were actually at that show with me; it was so long ago that I’d been assuming that it must have been a dream. Where our memories differ: I remember the audience challenge part of the show being called “Stump The Band.” You also might not recall how packed we were in that venue; the girl behind me danced throughout the entire show, which necessarily meant she punched me (not unpleasantly) non-stop with her ample bosoms. You also might not know that while wearing the t-shirt I bought at that show (with the words “Dial-A-Song”) at Lance’s house, Lance’s father got upset with me that I had not yet called the phone number. So we did. It was cool. The song is yet to make it on to an album.

- The Jakes

Kaboom32 said...

I don't doubt your memory of the title. I'm glad Lance's dad was upset. Now that I think about it, I'm upset with you as well. The first time I called it it was broken. I tried again a few years later and heard, "I Can Hear You." While I was disappointed that it wasn't a brand new song (though different take from the album version), it was appropriate. I have in my bookmarks, but I don't go nearly enough.