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We Might Be Giants, But They're Not
By Jason Koerner and Whitney Hardin
This concert review is going to be a little different from my others. I think that I swam outside of the buoys of my musical "comfort zone" with this show. Hopefully, my accomplice Whitney (a new addition to the LMN) can offer some insight in this review, as we will be writing it together.
Due to the length of time our flamboyant outfits took to acquire and don, and unexpected navigational problems en route to the Kentucky Center for the Arts, we arrived just after the opening act had taken the stage. The KCA staff members were instrumental in helping us find the right room, and obviously tried valiantly not to stare at us too much. The "Will Call" ladies didn't even ask me for any identification when I attempted to retrieve our tickets; either my infamy is now such that I need no introduction, or else they were reluctant to argue with a man in such retro attire. As a result of our tardiness, we didn't quite catch the name of the opening band (we later learned they're called Michael Shelley, after the lead singer/guitarist), but for the sake of argument and in keeping with the theme of the evening, we will henceforth refer to them as "They Might Be Disappointing."
Two-chord songs and a sound much like the Violent Femmes are not enough to impress (unless you are Violent Femmes fan) at a concert. "Surfer Joan" was the only title that I retained to long-term memory that evening; and it stuck with me like a bothersome younger sibling. A repetitive mix of Weezer and the Beach Boys in conjunction with an over-extended ending of feedback was responsible for this negative impression. I'm afraid to say that the most entertaining part of their show had nothing to do with them and was credited to the weird looks I received from a few surrounding audience members in response to my "70s Pimp" threads while they played. At least we stayed in good spirits at my expense!
The onslaught continued, even after the demise of the opening act, in the form of Spanish intermission-music. Then a sigh of relief came along when They Might be Giants took the stage. An odd-shaped slide guitar immediately caught my eye, but an accordion player stole my attention. All that excitement, combined with the stage lights reflecting off the tie-dyed T-shirts in the crowd, made me dizzy! The floor disappeared underneath the feet of loyal fans as soon as the band made their entrance. One thing the group did well is play with a seamless stitch of togetherness while fusing together (apparently) infinite styles of music.
Harmonizing vocals were a major weapon of the band, alongside good transitions from one style to the next. (I don't know how to classify the band other than "college rock" or something to that effect.) The bass player had a great knowledge of what he was doing and added variety to the tunes. One of the moments of musical confusion came as the group played a series of what seemed to be random notes under the direction of their bass player. After a drawn-out session of noise, someone in the crowd screamed, "Play a song!" I couldn't have said it better myself.
I have to credit them for the crowd interaction they received, namely in the form of a "giant" conga line that formed after the band's statement, "You're not watching TV, get up!" The crowd quickly responded to the invitation and made its way around the theater in unison. A front row audience member was allowed to strum a few guitar chords, while an unknown girl was not allowed to stay on the stage as she invited herself to do. If the group has this kind of support in other cities, then I have not given them enough credit.