WFPK Radio Louisville’s 91.9, recently voted Louisville’s Best Local Radio Station, presented They Might Be Giants on their last Waterfront Wednesday of the year. Brooklyn’s own quirky, experimental space-rock band stopped by during their six-month tour across America, coming off the release of their 15th studio album “Join Us” this past July, their first non-children’s album since 2007. The band’s captivating, odd and unique sound has been capturing audiences’ attention since way back in the beginning of the prehistoric age in 1982 behind lead man John Linnell – lead vocalist, keyboards, saxophone and accordion- and partner John Flansburgh – vocalist and lead guitar, – friends who met as teenagers in Lincoln, Mass. The band has received much commercial success, winning their first Grammy in 2002 for their hit single “The Boss of Me,” theme song for “Malcolm in the Middle,” and again in 2009 for their album “Here Come the 123’s,” no.1 in the Amazon.com Children’s Music Bestsellers.
The band kicked off its performance with the heavy, steady drumbeat of “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” a spacey, electrifying song from the early ’90s. Immediately after laying down their first track, They Might Be Giants blasted into the past with an inviting psychedelic, sound-blasting beat inviting you to “Clap Your Hands!” and “Stomp Your Feet!”
Along with performing old, classic feel-good songs from the ’90s, they were not afraid to promote their newest album, “Join Us,” claiming that they had great responses from new crowds and new listeners. Their set featured new tracks such as “When Will You Die,” “JudyDie,” “Judy is your Vietnam,” “Cloissone” and “Can’t Keep Johhny Down,” their first single off of Join Us. The song begins with a simple melodic guitar riff, breaking into a nice, steady drum beat. Halfway through the song, John Flansburgh hoists his guitar up pointing at the sky and doesn’t mind throwing in a Pete Townshend windmill here and there. About midway through the show, the crowd was divided up into two sides by a thin projector light, the left side being the “people,” directed under Linnell’s uncontrollable rampage on the drums, and the right side as the “apes,” directed by Flansburgh’s mind-blowing guitar riffs. As soon as the drums kicked in for the people, the crowd exploded into chants of “people!” and “apes!”
Perhaps the best moment of the night was the song “Don’t Let Start,” a cheery, pop song released off their debut self-titled album in the late ’80s. The song begins with a heavy synthesized groove, laid over with a classic nineties guitar riff. The crowd of several hundred people responded generously and as the refrain kicked in, both guitarist began hopping up and down, leaping in circles, singing “Don’t, don’t, don’t let’s start, this is the worst part. Could you believe for all the world that you’re my precious little girl,” while guitarist John Flansburgh mounted the guitar on top of his head like a spinning helicopter ready to take off. Towards the latter end of the show, They Might Be Giants showed their childish playful sides, pulling out two wool sock-puppets on stage. After the sock puppets had been tucked away, Dan Miller reappeared on the stage solely with his acoustic guitar, strumming away furiously on “Istanbul not Constantinople.” “Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can’t say, people just liked it better that way.” A classic way to cap off a killer performance.
Photos: Lara Kinne/The Louisville Cardinal