After spending a few years slyly infiltrating the children’s edutainment market with albums Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s, and (my personal favorite) Here Comes Science, indie-geek-eclectic band of the century, They Might Be Giants, came to Tempe’s Marquee Theater in January with a 14+ show. Children’s hour was over. Not that anything on the set list was what you’d call risqué, but (aside from a rousing rendition of “Alphabet of Nations,” the 27 song set steered clear of the kid stuff, and spanned most of the rest of the band’s prolific career.
The audience, a motley group of 14 to 60 year olds, were warmed up by former computer programmer turned fave musician of current coders, Jonathan Coulton. You know you’re in a room full of dedicated geeks and gamers when almost everyone there sings along with songs like “Code Monkey” (Yeah, I bought the t-shirt), and ”Still Alive”, GLaDOS’ psychotic, bittersweet survival ballad that runs over the end-credits of the iconic PC game, Portal.
But the audience was definitely there to see The Johns (Flansburgh, on vocals and guitar, and Linnell on vocals and keyboards). Along with Dan Miller (lead guitar), Marty Beller (drums, and yes, he has a song named after him), and bassist Danny Weinkauf, TMBG wended their way through the almost three hour set which included songs from 10 of their 15 albums, as well as rarities from Album Raises New and Troubling Questions, which was released concurrently with their latest venture, Join Us. Interspersed was a matched set of surprising and wonderful covers of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”, and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”. And, of course, the crowd favorite “Istanbul (Not Constantinople), the Four Lads cover which is now more often associated with TMBG than the original artists.
It was a fantastic show: To steal a line from opener, JoCo, long after we’re all gone, TMBG will be still alive.