Saturday, 27 October 2007

They Might Be Giants in Durham, NC

Viola and I don't get to gigs as often as we used to when we were students. The kids aren't quite old enough to come with us yet, at least not to most venues, and it's always a bit of a drive to get in to Durham or to Raleigh, the two nearest cities. As we head towards middle age, we are often as happy staying in on a Friday night, having a couple of beers and watching the telly. Nevertheless, it's a bit of a thrill when we do venture out and last night, with the kids both on sleepovers with friends, Vi and I drove to Durham to see They Might Be Giants at the Carolina Theater.

Going to a gig here does feel like harder work than when we were younger. Because of the lack of public transport, one of us has to drive, and going to a gig stone cold sober isn't quite the same. I was in a bit of a mood too after I pranged the back of my car on a huge white stone pillar which appeared from nowhere when I was backing into a space in the car park. And then we couldn't find anywhere to eat in the area, went to the bar area of the Marriott hotel and had probably the worst service we've ever had (a long story). But things got a lot better when the gig started at 9.

The support was an indie duo called Oppenheimer who were surprisingly good. They are from Belfast in Northern Ireland. They did not look at all promising. A chubby, sweaty nerd with terrible hair is on guitar and keyboard and he leaps around and occasionally sings robotic-style vocals. A bald bloke with a soft Northern Irish accent plays the drums and sings.

They Might be Giants were on at 10 and played for about 75 minutes. Any advantage you might have had in claiming a seat towards the front was soon negated as John Flansburgh (the fatter of the two lead men) encouraged everyone onto their feet and forward. Flansburgh probably did the bulk of fronting the group, but occasionally John Linnell came from behind the keyboards to take his lead. They are both looking distinctly middle aged, but both were on good musical form and generally in pretty good humour. They are commonly described as "quirk pop" and if sometimes there was a little too much quirkiness and not enough pop, they did play most of the hits and they sounded good.

Those who cannot call to mind a They Might be Giants song might in fact already know one without realizing it. They sing the theme tune to Malcolm in the Middle (and performed all 30 seconds of it at this gig) and their biggest hit is Birdhouse in Your Soul (which also recently appeared, bizarrely, on Pushing Daisies), the video for which is below.

We had never seen They Might be Giants before and were very pleasantly surprised to find out how good a live band they are. We would definitely make the effort to see them again, though next time it would be good to take the kids too -- they are definitely family friendly, and Durham's 14s and over policy didn't seem to make any sense.

1 comment:

Doug Chaplin said...

Thanks for this - I didn't know they were still going. But I always liked theiur quirkiness