I’ve been to plenty of concerts that rock (Metallica, Kiss, Poison), many that have been memorable (Jimmy Page jamming with The Black Crowes, Bon Jovi’s return to Giants Stadium), but never have I had as much fun watching a band performing as I did on June 11, when They Might Be Giants took the stage of The Stone Pony.
Having seen the band perform twice in 2007 (at The Stone Pony and The Green Room in Seaside Park), I was hoping this would not be a predictable show. Having seen other bands perform live and on DVD, you tend to notice the same onstage banter, the same song arrangement, etc. When I saw TMBG in ’07, about a month or two apart, the shows, outside of the opening act, were pretty much identical. And let’s face it, the band hasn’t produced any new adult material since then (they have produced two kids albums though). So I had some reservations seeing the band a third time, fearing it would be “same old song and dance, my friend.”
However, the Brooklyn-based alternative band (they were alternative and in Brooklyn before both were cool), treated the sold-out Stone Pony audience to a stand-out performance. Hit songs were deconstructed and re-interpreted — “The Sun” was performed in complete pirate accents with exclamations of “scurvy” and “barnacles” tossed in. Sock puppets known as “the avatars” were used to sing “What is a Shooting Star” and the “Alphabet of Nations” featured new twists, breakdowns and tempos.
In between these new interpretations and classically performed toe-tapping diddies like “The Mesopotamians” and “Damn Good Times” the band provided jokes and one-liners kept the audience and sometimes the band in stitches. The air of frivolty, played up by usually jocular and jovial guitarist John Flansburg, really made the whole night just that much enjoyable. Even the usually reserved keyboardist, vocalist, accordion-ist John Linell got in on the ribbing, throwing out a couple of doozies no one expected.
The night was punctuated by the most encore performances I’ve ever witnessed at a live show. TMBG performed three encores, closing out the night, with a performance of “Ana Ng;” a song many fans noted had not been in regular concert rotation for the band.
It was a memorable night, in which the band seemed to enjoy playing for not only the crowd, but playing together as a band. Their onstage camaraderie and love for playing their songs with each other was infectious and the energy just amped the crowd up even more.