They Might Be Giants Welcome 1996 With Levity

They Might Be Giants ushered in the frenetic descent towards a new millennium New Year’s Eve at New York City’s Tramps, stampeding with reckless wit and scathing intelligence through nearly thirty of their eccentric pop gems in just over two hours.

Charging through a raucous set that borrowed equally from TMBG’s seven hit-strewn LPs, frontman John Linnell leered through his ratty curls with beedy eyes as he tugged madly at his accordian.

Linnell and original TMBG partner John Flansburgh — poster children both for the pocket protector set — shared the lead, their similarily nasal vocals frolicking through timeless sing-alongs “The Guitar,” “Istambul (Not Constantinople),” and Lincoln’s “Cowtown.” And though the band plodded listlessly thorugh “Ana Ng” abd “Particle Man,” they were to be forgiven: it was the sextet’s second performance of the evening.

Flansburgh’s lively “Dire Bike” and Linnell’s ode to a Belgian painter, “Meet James Ensor,” delighted. Especially odd were the band’s spontanious run through Bochman Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business” (which uproariously bookended John Henry’s “Sleeping in the Flowers”) and their haunting, horn-based twist on the Meat Puppets’ “Whirlpool.”

Square, slightly off-center, and with tongues firmly in cheek, They Might Be Giants welcomed 1996 with the levity that these frenzied times demand.

Openers The Martinis were not so synchronous. Former-Pixies Joey Santiago and David Lovering recycled their caustic four chord college rock formulaically. Santiago’s squeeling, fuzzy guitar lines were as familiar as TK’s hackneyed lyrics, while bassist TK did little to enliven Lovering’s tenacious patter.

Still, to their credit, The Martinis pushed through the awkward silences with minimal downtime, warbling unsteadily towards the new year.

This interview first appeared on Rolling Stone Online

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