A Place for Those Who Love Their Poetry

Last night was the They Might Be Giants show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, which was pretty fun. What wasn’t fun was walking on the icy sidewalks to get there. They were even worse coming back. Also, I have to wonder why there’s no direct route from, like, anywhere else in Brooklyn to Williamsburg. If you take the subway, you have to go through Manhattan.

The opener was Jonathan Coulton, who usually goes over well with the audience. I sometimes feel he tries too hard, but he’s pretty fun overall. And hey, he did a song about George Plimpton, and we just recently watched a documentary about that guy. The TMBG show was billed as a first album one, and they did indeed play everything on their first album, but not at all in order. They started out doing “Chess Piece Face” and “I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die” as a duo, with John Linnell on accordion and John Flansburgh on guitar.

Notice that one of them is wearing a T-shirt and the other a suit? Maybe they should have discussed their outfits beforehand. Eh, I guess if I’d wanted to see coordinated outfits, I could have stayed home and watched the Oscars.

After the band showed up, they played “Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head,” “Doctor Worm,” and “The Famous Polka” with Dan Miller on keyboard. For “Toddler Hiway,” the Johns performed as the Avatars of They, who were introduced by a loop of Gene Autry singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Just those four words, over and over again. Speaking of introductory music, the backing band came out to “The Syncopated Clock.” In addition to everything from the first album and stuff they play all the time, there were several songs in the set from the restored Dial-A-Song. There was a running gag throughout the set about how the opposite of Kickstarter would be Punchstopper, and it would involve paying money to get someone to stop doing something. It kind of sounds like the sort of thing I’d come up with.

This was the first show in a while where I talked to someone I hadn’t come in with. We met Madeleine, whose path we actually crossed once before when we took the same bus, but neither of us were certain of the other person’s identity so neither of us said anything. Now we’ve actually spoken to her for real, so that’s cool. We commented on how young the audiences are at TMBG shows these days, which is a phenomenon Dan Miller and Danny Weinkauf discussed in the TMBG documentary almost fifteen years ago. There are always some older holdouts, but the average age of the audience remains the same, and this was true even before they started releasing children’s records. I’m so old now that it’s difficult for me to stand up during a concert, but fortunately we found some seats on the balcony. The chairs weren’t very comfortable, but you can’t have everything. It wasn’t a great place for pictures either, as you can tell from the black wall that takes up the right side of both the ones I posted.

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