Because nerds have to dance too: They Might Be Giants Flood tour @ Showbox SoDo 11.10.09

Things got a bit nerdy in the industrial SoDo district last week when They Might Be Giants brought their Flood tour to Seattle, much to the delight of a sold-out crowd at Showbox SoDo.

The band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their platinum album Flood by playing the album in its entirety in select cities. But the show wasn’t just a straight-forward affair where the group played through Flood in full. Like everything TMBG does, the show was a bit different. Instead of doing by-the-numbers walkthrough of Flood things started with non-album tracks and then after Flood started other non-Flood songs were peppered throughout the show.

The set started with “James K. Polk” (not a Flood song) and by the time the guys started singing about elements making up elephants (the second song of the night) the confetti was flying. From there it was a romp through some of Flood before the group took a break and played more non-Flood material. It was my first TMBG experience and watching John Flansburgh and John Linnell spread their musical joy to the near 2,000 in attendance was enough to make me go home anld listen to Flood on repeat again and again.

Back on the nerd front, in the middle of the set The Avatars of They, two sock puppets controlled by Flansburgh and Linnell commandeered the stage. Because it was a TMBG show they weren’t allowed to play their own material (of course!) so they played through a pair of TMBG songs. Sock puppets at a rock show? That’s about as nerdy/cool as you can get and it pandered perfectly to the TMBG crowd. Between songs about former presidents, a sock puppet hijacking and confetti flying through the air he 90-minute performance was not just a celebration of TMBG’s crowning achievement; it was a celebration of nerdiness in music and during this celebration I had several revalations.

After hearing “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” live I decided there needs to be more clarinet in rock. After singing along to “The Sun Is A Mass of Incandescent Gas” and listening to its counterpart “Why Does The Sun Shine?” I decided more bands need to write songs involving science. And after watching the Johns do their thing on stage, I decided there needs to be more nerds in rock ‘n’ roll.

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