They Might Be Giants pull in a diverse fanbase and the walk into the Pageant turned out to be a nice illustration of that. There were the young families bringing in their kids, making the 21+ line the surprisingly quicker option to get in. Near the bar, the usual hip concert crowd took up residence. Then heading into the pit, I passed by the Dr. Horrible cosplayer and two guys wearing Admiral Ackbar shirts.
Former computer programmer / current geek rock sensation, Jonathan Coulton served as the night’s opener and was well received by a crowd that even (lovingly) booed when announcing his last song. His set felt efficiently brief, but still managed to include crowd favorites like “Still Alive” and “Code Monkeys” as well as newer material from the recently released Artificial Heart. And in case you were wondering what Coulton was playing on during his opening medley of MIDI tunes and samples, it’s called a Zendrum.
While I’ve enjoyed They Might Be Giants ever since high school, I’ve only seen the Brooklyn duo once before – over a decade ago when they headlined the spring WILD festival at Washington University. It was an interesting night, where the power went out mid-set and I vividly remember John Flansburgh salvaging the evening by singing impromptu songs in the dark. Back then, they were the nerds that could rock and nothing has changed since. Even though John and John have pursued other avenues to become relevant to TMBG fanbase v2.0 with their educational albums, their nerd rock still rocks. I came for the infectious melodies. I left knowing a nation for every letter of the alphabet.
-The set list pulled in a fun mix of past classics (“Particle Man” “Ana Ng”), educational material (“Meet James Ensor” “Istanbul”) and general TMBG wackiness (the Epic Fail bologna sandwich puppets, the LP dance contest) giving the crowd a wide sample of their career.
-With a lot of children in the audience, I did think it weird to begin the crowd banter with the talk about the flavors of LSD.
-With no photo pit for the evening, my 80-200 f2.8 lens was my sole choice for shooting. Thankfully there were some gaps around the sides of the pit to maneuver around, but navigating the crowds was definitely the biggest obstacle that night. My ribs took a Beatle Bob elbow while trying to shoot from the right side of the stage.