They Might Be Giants have been doing shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on the last Sunday of pretty much every month this year, often with special themes. Beth and I saw the shows where they played their first album and Lincoln in their entirety, and last night they did the same with Apollo 18. Well, while they did play every song from the first album, they skipped one song on each of the other two. And in both cases, it was the eleventh song, “I’ve Got a Match” and “Hall of Heads.” Is eleven their unlucky number? They didn’t play the songs in order, and there were other songs interspersed throughout. Here’s the setlist, which I found online:
It was a pretty long show, even taking into account that they had a twenty-minute intermission. Stan Harrison joined the band on stage to play saxophone or clarinet on a few songs, and did an extended sax introduction for “Istanbul.” John Linnell played some bass clarinet, and he and Harrison were both on clarinets for “If I Wasn’t Shy” and “Cowtown.”
I appreciate that clarinets have become a more regular part of their shows. Beth plays the clarinet, although she hasn’t actually done so recently. There was also a block near the end with Linnell on accordion, including several Apollo 18 songs plus “Good to Be Alive.”
And for “She’s Actual Size,” Dan Miller played the trombone part on MIDI guitar. I haven’t seen that one live in a while; there was a period of time when they did it at pretty much every show, and usually extended it to incredible lengths. They didn’t do that this time, although there was a drum solo. There was probably a time when I could have told you which songs I was experiencing live for the first time, but I’ve long since lost track. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t been to a show where they did “See the Constellation” or “Dig My Grave” before.
During the show, Linnell mentioned the Super Blood Moon, which then deviated into a him and John Flansburgh talking about the Dark Web and Bitcoin. I took a picture of the Moon after the show, but it didn’t come out very well.
I’m sure I would have had a much better view from our neighborhood than from Williamsburg, but by the time we got back the eclipse had ended. You could say that the city lights got in my way. Flansburgh also said his wife wasn’t at the show because she’d just gotten the complete collection of Carol Burnett on DVD. And there was talk about how there was a movie called Apollo 18, but I don’t think either of the Johns saw it.