Show Review: They Might Be Giants with Jonathan Coulton at The Fillmore, 11/12/11

by Marie Carney on November 16, 2011

John Linnell of They Might Be Giants

After an inexplicable ten years without seeing They Might Be Giants, I got to the Fillmore early to get that spot right up front just like I remembered.  What I wasn’t sure of was if I would still hear my favorite song and would the two John’s still rock it like crazy.  Lucky for me, and hopefully everyone else at the sold out show, everything I hoped for happened, plus even more.

Jonathan Coulton came on stage promptly at nine o’clock and started the show with some familiar fair for the audience with “Code Monkey.”  Everyone sang along and smiled and cheered as if this was who they were here to see, not They Might Be Giants, though with Coulton’s fun upbeat songs and nerd-centric lyrics it makes sense that there was at least a 95% audience cross over.  Though I am familiar with Coulton’s work this was the first time I saw him perform and I was impressed by the show.  He bantered well with the crowd and played amazingly.

Jonathan Coulton at work

His performance wasn’t short on great little moments either.  A few songs in to the set Coulton announced that a special guest would be coming out on stage, at which point he introduced his assistant ‘Scarface’ who then sang “Skullcrusher Mountain” to immense applause.  But the real crowd favorite moment seemed to be “Still Alive” where in the quieter moments of the song I could hear what seemed like every voice in The Fillmore signing along.

Jonathan Coulton's Setlist

After all that adoration for Jonathan Coulton it was great to hear when They Might Be Giants walked out on stage that it was just the beginning of the audience’s extreme enthusiasm for the band.  And this show really felt like it was for the fans from the opening note of the first song, “Pencil Rain” from 1988’s Lincoln. It was a surprising opener to me, such an old and seemingly random song, but even more of a surprise was all the people around me, ranging in age from teenager to late 40’s, singing along.  It was a beautiful beginning to a night of fun musical camaraderie.

John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants

For their part, John Linnell and John Flansburgh can still really rock a show.  Flansburgh spent most of the evening running around the stage, jumping up and down, and often times putting his back to the audience to sing which somehow didn’t feel awkward but just added to the eccentric energy.  For his part, Linnell still gives the best eye contact at a show ever.  If you’re a fan I definitely recommend fighting for a spot up front for the chance to have your favourite song sung to you, even if it’s just for 5 seconds (I about lost my shit during “Ana Ng” because of this, as embarrassing as that is).  The rest of the band is fiercely and almost unbelievably talented with Dan Miller on lead guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass  and Marty Beller on drums.  But even more than their talent their personalities meld in so well full of energy and happiness they are just as fun to watch as the two Johns.

 

Danny Weinkauf and Dan Miller

 

 As if all the great music wasn’t enough, there were plenty of fun moments to be had.  There, of course, was a lot of fun banter between the songs but there were some even more hillarious planned out moments as well.  First was when Flansburgh used a strong headlight type lamp to split the audience in two for a chanting battle: people vs apes (people won this time).  Later on there was a sock puppet show/musical extravaganza where “The Avatars” turned it in to a hard rock show.  There were also pleas for money a la an old school telethon then later in the show nicknames were given to the band and audience members alike.  It was all these little parts that made what was a great show a truly memorable one.

 

They Might Be Giants Setlist

 

All photos by Jonathan Pirro

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