But that doesn't matter, because old as I am, Johns Flansburgh and Linnell are even older (and now they're even older), and they can still seriously rock a house down.
I don't know why that seemed like a strange concept to me, but up until yesterday, it did. Which is why I'd never gone to see a They Might Be Giants show. What a mistake. Assuming that was a show of normal quality, I've been an idiot. They're way, way better live than they are on their albums.
They are also the first band I've ever seen open for themselves. I don't mean that there was no opening band, or that they played extra long; I mean the marquee read 'They Might Be Giants 9:00 - 9:30' 'They Might Be Giants 9:45 - 11:00' They came out and announced that they were opening for themselves by playing a selection of the Venue Songs from the previous year's tour. Apparently last year, they wrote a new song for each show they played, and they recounted six of them for us as the opener. My two favorites were 'Trees' (as in Deep Ellum), and one for a club in Glasgow called 'The Garage' (T-H E-G-A R-A-G... E, T-H E-G-A R-A-G... E.) That's right, they made a 'So I Married an Axe Murderer' reference.
After the opening set, they came back with the main act. They opened with 'Istanbul (not Constantinople), and played 'Birdhouse in your Soul' about halfway though. I'm always impressed with bands that don't save the well-known stuff to close the show with. Although in their case, there was no need. They played two jam-filled encores, the last one including a command from Flansburgh to 'Conga line. Every conga line. Put your hands on a stranger's hips and move away from the stage. Put your hands on a stranger's hips and move away from the stage.' He just kept saying it, in an increasingly stern 'Pick up your room NOW' voice until people started to obey (you can definitely tell he's the one with kids.) The guy in front of me had been jamming out throughout the show, and I was about to put my hands on his waist and say 'Let's Go!' when all of a sudden he spun around and over his shoulder I saw the Conga Line bearing down on us. I spun around, grabbed royalbananafish by the waist, and just like that we were in the line. The Crystal Ballroom is a very cool venue, because the wooden dance floor is on springs, so when people bounce in rhythm, the vibrations carry, and it's like watching a show standing on a very solid trampoline with about 1000 other people.
At the end we were exhausted and sweaty and walking out into the Oregon night was quite a relief. It was easily one of the best shows I've ever seen, I won't make the mistake of waiting 15 1/2 years to see another.