They Might Be Giants at The Neptune Theatre in Seattle, WA

They Might Be Giants brought their An Evening with… tour to Seattle’s Neptune Theatre to celebrate the anniversaries of Flood and Mink Car.

An Evening With They Might Be Giants was a tour originally meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the album Flood (released 1/5/1990), but they only managed to get a handful of shows in before the pandemic started. For the postponed tour, they added a second date to each stop on the tour to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the album Mink Car, an album which had the most unfortunate release date imaginable – 9/11/2001. With the pandemic still marching on, even though the tour was later than it was ever intended, now they had to postpone it even later. As a band now well accustomed to postponing things due to historically tragic events, they commemorated belated anniversaries instead. 

Those two years of anticipation could be felt in the air at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle’s University District. It could even be felt on the subway going to the show, with many riders wearing technicolor paper crowns – each with a different word from the band’s name. In the theater before the show, fans linked up with strangers wearing paper crowns of the other words to form the full band name. Making a prop like that just to get fans to meet one another is a perfect example of how much the band care about giving their fans a great and unforgettable experience with every show.

Before the band entered, they showed a short animated intro projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. The band would continue to make great use of that screen throughout the show with more animations as well as a very strange live video – more on that later.

Finally, after two years, the band walked out onto the stage – the core members John Flansburgh and John Linnell, along with their standard guitar-bass-drums backing band as well as a brass section. After greeting the audience, they kicked off the show in classic TMBG irony with the surrealist sea shanty “Synopsis For Latecomers,” which also opens their latest album Book. Before going into the next song, the two Johns chatted with the audience and joked about playing on the stoner holiday of 4/20. After some more banter, they launched into “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” a fan-favorite song from the fan-favorite album Flood. 

Near the end of the first set, they played the classic “Stilloob,” with the Johns harmonizing those unforgettable lyrics, “Evol erup fo stellub, stellub erihppas.” At the end of the 20-minute intermission, they played a video of “Stilloob,” reversed to give the audience a very strange rendition of “Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love” from the album Flood. It takes an incredibly specific talent to play – let alone sing – an entire song backward well enough for it to be recognizable when heard flipped the right way around.

The band then returned to the stage and launched into their second set with the humorous existential crisis of “Older” – a song about how “time is still marching on,” reminding listeners that “you’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older.” 12 songs later, they closed out the set with everyone’s favorite cover that they don’t know is a cover, “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).”

Of course, a show like this wouldn’t be complete without an encore, so they came back out and played a couple more songs. The first was “Dead” from Flood – a song about things being over. The second was “Fingertips” from Apollo 18 – a chaotic song made to sound like random snippets of songs as though flipping through radio stations. The band left the stage again, only to return for one more song – “Doctor Worm” from Severe Tire Damage – a song about a worm who is a doctor and is learning to play the drums. Despite being the opener of its album, it has a sound that somehow works perfectly to end a show – for real this time, no more postponements and no more encores.

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