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They Might Be Giants @ The Majestic Theatre 5/18/24 (Concert Review by Dexter K.)

Being introduced to They Might Be Giants through a live performance is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re seeing one of the most prolific and unique rock bands of the last forty years. On the other hand, the inevitable visit to their studio albums will probably be disappointing. That’s less a knock to their talent as recording artists, but rather a testament to their performance abilities. 

Their talent for putting on a live show didn’t come from flashy visuals, dance moves, or even impeccable musicianship. What makes TMBG stand out is the fact that no other band can do what they do. Sure, a competent band could cover their songs, but they can’t recreate their sense of humor or their creative approach to songwriting and live performance. Each song and its prefacing banter is a brief glimpse into the enduring friendship that has captured the hearts of fans for over four decades. 

The show of theirs that I saw was the second night of a sold-out two-night run at the Majestic. The first of their two sets heavily featured tracks from their 2001 album “Mink Car”, including my personal favorite track of the night, “Bangs”. The track seamlessly weaves between 4/4 and 2/4 time signatures and features some killer backing vocals from lead guitarist Dan Miller. Outside of frontmen John Linnell and John Flansburgh, the touring musicians of TMBG perfectly held down the grooves, freeing up the others to incorporate instruments like a wooden staff, euphonium, and John Linnell’s trademark accordion, nicknamed “The Main Squeeze”.   

One of the show’s highlights involved the band playing their song “Stillub” backward and then revealing the reversed video before the start of their second set. Another personal favorite was “Don’t Let’s Start”, from their 1986 eponymous album. That song, along with their iconic television theme songs for shows like Malcolm in the Middle and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show that TMBG can make catchy, “normal” songs. However, I can confidently speak for their fans by saying I’m glad they don’t. Their songs are weird, unrelatable, and niche, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll have to compete with their die-hard fans for a ticket, but I would encourage any alternative rock fan to check out their live show the next time they come to Michigan. 

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