Friday, July 22, 2016

Music Friday: The Science of They Might Be Giants

Not to dwell too much on the apocalyptic, flaming-rats-are-falling-from-the-skies-to-devour-your-children's-limbs speech by that dimestore Manuel Noriega last night, but since this is Music Friday I'm allowed to say that choosing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as the song for the celebratory balloon drop is either the Biggest Fucking Troll of All Time or shows a frankly breathtaking lack of awareness or, fuck it, who knows, maybe both, given this shambling shitshow of an election.

I didn't see it, actually.  I was at the Fillmore watching They Might Be Giants, which is the exact opposite of Donal Trump.

TMBG is sui generis in American music: a band that writes clever, quirky, catchy songs, doesn't take itself seriously at all, and has a wry sense of humor.  It's music for science geeks and (former) record store clerks and mathletes.  In fact, at one point during last night's show, the audience began chanting "SCIENCE! SCIENCE! SCIENCE!" like we were at a crazy Republican rally is bizarro world where they just nominated Neil deGrasse Tyson and were dropping carbon offsets instead of balloons.  I am not kidding, they actually chanted this, in response to some stage patter about science.  I am also not kidding about the stage patter about science.

I haven't listened to a lot of TMBG lately (and by lately, I mean since the mid-90's), but I quite liked "Apollo 18," their 1992 release.  Among other eccentricities, it has a song about mammals that contains the words "nuclei," "monotreme," and "allotheria;" a whole set of seconds-long song sketches smashed together at the end, and perfectly fine pop songs like "I Palindrome I," a catchy ditty about matricide.  TMBG is basically kid's music for adults.  It's charming and happy, which made it the perfect antidote to what was going on in Cleveland.  Couldn't they just leave Cleveland alone?  They have enough problems already.

Speaking of "Apollo 18," the show was billed as "They Might Be Giants plays Apollo 18," but, being They Might Be Giants, they played a bunch of other songs first and then played the album, in order, but backwards.  I mean in backwards order, not playing all the songs backwards.

It occurred to me while watching them that it's kind of perfect music for people on the spectrum because, other than mirth, I can't see TMBG generating any kind of emotional response, like some music does.  The last time I saw the Weakerthans I was moved almost to tears by the song "Left and Leaving" (go ahead, listen, you might burst into tears).  I can't imagine any TMBG provoking that kind of reaction.  And there's nothing wrong with that!  God knows we could use a little levity.  It was a fun, if tiring, show (they didn't go on until after 9 pm, and I had to leave around 11:30; they still weren't done).

We were also talking about pre-show music last night because TMBG had a nice mix going on the house PA before the show, with everything from Kendrick to Lily Allen to the Offspring and I happened to mention my Theory of Pre-Show Music, which is: The harder the pre-show music, the more twee the band.  EXAMPLE: I saw Belle & Sebastian years back and they played Geto Boys as their pre-show music.  Twee band, hard rap.  Conversely, I've seen some pretty aggro rock and they played classical or something before.  Try it and see.

THE OTHER MAJOR MUSIC STORY OF THE WEEK had something to do with Kanye, Taylor Swift, and Snapchat.  The Wife explained it to me but I wasn't really paying attention but I think it has something to do with some behind-the-scenes dealing and skullduggery and now everyone hates Taylor Swift?  I guess go to Buzzfeed or something to learn more.

DID I GET TICKETS TO FYF FEST YET: No. Saturday tickets are currently $194 on StubHub.  Humorously, 2-day tickets are $190, which means more people want to go Saturday than go Saturday and then discard a Sunday ticket. Throwing something in the trash is not worth $4 apparently.


sev2108 said...

aren't these the guys who wrote the god awful song that play at the end of each mickey mouse clubhouse episode?

TK said...

sev - Why, yes it is! They also wrote the theme for Malcolm in the Middle. Everybody gotta pay the bills.

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