Sunday, December 05, 2004

They Might Be Blogging.

I haven’t posted any old material lately, so here’s something from Chicago in the late ’80s. I don’t remember why I was inspired to see They Might Be Giants that night, but I was. Maybe Dave L., who introduced me about The Bobs, Jonathan Richmond, Pianosaurus and other eccentric musicians, suggested it.

December 18, 1988.

We met Lee C. and Dave L. at Cabaret Metro, right before the show started. The first act was Balancing Act, an LA band with excellent guitar work, fine vocals and one hell of a drummer. A Cabaret Metro, there aren’t any fixed seats in front of the stage, a style I remember from Europe, and the audience stands. The place has the look of an old vaudeville hall, with parts missing, such as the seats, peeling paint and some other deferred maintenance issues.

Pretty soon we were surrounded by other concertgoers – teenagers, mostly. They Might Be Giants soon came out, with their giant old man heads hanging behind them, their accordion, their boom box, their bizarre musicianship, their manic energy. Such energy. But then again, these guys are younger than I am. All Playmates, some pro athletes, many rock (?) musicians, all younger than I am now [I was 27 then.]

Intense fun. TMBG alternated between fast and slow, cynical and cheesy, bouncing all over the place. You never knew what was coming next. “The sun is a mass/of incandescent gas/a great big nuclear furnace…” was one fun tune, probably based on collective memories of science movies in the fifth grade. At one point they told the audience that there was a phone number you could call to hear “a new They Might Be Giants song each time. It’s toll free, if you call from your parents home or work.”

2004 Note: The quoted song I that saw them do, with their own variations thrown in, was called “Why Does the Sun Shine?” It predates TMBG, though I don’t feel like chasing down the details. More of its lyrics include:

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where hydrogen is built into helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees.
Yo ho, it’s hot, the sun is not
A place where we could live.
But here on earth there’d be no life
Without the light it gives.
We need it’s light
We need it’s heat
We need it’s energy
Without the sun, without a doubt
There’d be no you and me.


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