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They Might Be Giants @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Nov. 9, 2007

Dec. 12, 2007
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November 15, 2007

Legendary nerd rockers They Might Be Giants (TMBG) brought their 22-year almanac of wailing ridiculousness to the revamped Turner Hall last Friday night. Two Johns from Brooklyn who seem to be stuck in the continual limbo of a perverted bookish musical, they let loose a mix of old and new tunes that continue to defy generic pigeonholing. The aging crowd was easily encouraged into clap-alongs and the formation of a giddy conga line that snaked around the ballroom, which John Flansburgh declared the longest in Turner Hall's brief history.

With the core of Johns directing the circus on guitar and keyboard, a solid trio of musicians filled out a classic five-piece band, which was then accented by a blaring horn section that ascended from the shadows of the balcony. The duo traded off nasally lead vocals, while sometimes "harmonizing" to pitches that weren't really pleasing at all, yet somehow pleasantly rattled the eardrum. Solos were plentiful and kept things from getting too monotonously weird. From John Linnell squeezing away on an accordion, to the highlight solos of lead guitarist Dan Miller, one from atop the towering house speakers and then a wicked acoustic intro into "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," the final song after two encores.

As TMBG jumped through decades and from album to album, they played an array of songs off of classic albums like Flood, Apollo 18 and John Henry, as well as a handful from their most recent release, The Else. The last song of their first encore, "Fingertips," a disjointed string of far-flung styles and obscurity, pretty much summarizes TMBG in a cracked nutshell. It was damn near impossible to keep a straight face throughout the show. With their unique breed of lighthearted music as infectious as chickenpox, TMBG surely brought out the inner child of a misled academic youth.

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