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« Contest: The Low Anthem TONIGHT @ Empty Bottle Review: The Dodos, The Luyas, Grandkids @ Pygmalion Music Festival, 9/23 »

Concert Mon Sep 26 2011

Review: They Might Be Giants @ The Vic, 9/23/11

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They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh (photos by Steve Stearns)

I never expected the 1972 song "A Horse With No Name" to get stuck in my head after Friday night's They Might Be Giants show at the Vic, but when I woke up Saturday morning there it was — it's unimaginative two-chord self fixed into my eardrums. Midway through the show John Flansburgh and John Linnell invited the entire Onion AV Club onstage, acoustic guitars in hand, for the purpose of playing a song that has only two chords in it. "Join in, don't act like you don't know the words," Linnell called into the mic, prompting the sold-out audience to sing along to what is possibly the most boring song ever written, and transforming it into a wryly humorous piece that only TMBG could pull off.

The show was full of such playful moments — the audience dance contest, for example, with one lucky fan winning a vinyl copy of TMBG's latest album, "Join Us", and three other not-so-lucky fans that came away with booby prizes like a copy of a Rick Springfield LP. At one point the band went backstage, appearing on a giant screen in the form of sock puppets reporting "live from London", in order to appease their newest sponsor, "Epic Fail Bologna Sandwiches." And in a moment of playful hilarity, they broke into the chorus of the 1997 Chumbawamba earworm "Tubthumping," with lively audience participation.

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They Might Be Giants' John Linnell (photos by Steve Stearns)

There aren't many bands as unassuming as TMBG, and the makeup of the audience reflected this fact; it spanned a wide age range, with representation by more than a few silver haired fans, and some who had brought children with them, which somehow made perfect sense.

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They Might Be Giants' John Linnell (photos by Steve Stearns)

Selections from their own oeuvre included songs from more recent releases, generously sprinkled with classics like "Particle Man", "Your Racist Friend", "Older", and "Birdhouse in Your Soul." At the end of the concert it seemed they were going to leave after performing a cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and snuck in "Constantinople," making everything right with the world for two precious minutes before sending the audience back into the real world, or as close as you can get to the real world from the corner of Belmont and Sheffield.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
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Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

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Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
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Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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