I’m a Little Glowing Friend”

I saw They Might Be Giants at the Great American Music Hall tonight. Predictably, they rocked the house. Just blew the roof right off the dump. It was a relatively typical TMBG show: Flansburgh never seems to age; Linnell always looks a bit different (he changes his hair or something) and a bit haggard. They are still touring with the Band of Dans, and guitarist Dan Miller never fails to amaze me. Glad to see that Flansburgh still delights in leading the crowd in a chant of “Dan Miller! Fuck yeah! Dan Miller! Fuck yeah!”

Now here’s the real scoop. If you’re me, what is the best thing you can imagine seeing on-stage? How about one of your very favorite bands covering a Beatles tune? Wait, we can do better than that: How about one of your very favorite bands covering a George song? “Fuck yeah!” But wait, we can do better than that.

It went down like this: There’s this bit that Flansburgh has been doing for at least a year now, where during the show he stops and turns on a radio and starts flipping across the dial, looking for stuff that the band can jam along with. Tonight one of the tunes he landed on was “Taxman.” So they jammed along beautifully for a bit, but it quickly became clear they didn’t know the lyrics all that well, so they gave up. This is where it gets even better.

When the radio bit ended, it was time to play “Triangle Man.” But Linnell threw the band a curve. “Let’s play it like ‘Taxman,’” sez his Johnness. So the drummer started up with the Taxman beat, and the guitars started up with the repeating Taxman riff, and you wouldn’t think it would work that well, but Linnell started belting out “Triangle Man” with a Taxmanish rhythm and damned if it didn’t work beautifully. Special bonus that I don’t think too many people noticed: Between two of the verses, the drummer went nuts for a few seconds and played the distinctive first bits of Ringo’s solo from “The End”! (Boom boom boom boom, boom-a-doom-a-doom!) Talk about synthesis! Talk about meta! I’m still in awe. Concerts don’t get any more fun or unpredictable than TMBG’s. They make me wish I’d taken a different path and become a musician. God, what fun!

[And now? “I’m going to bed! Bed! Bed! Bed! Bed! Bed!”]