Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This year’s Large Scale Event was a rousing success, as rock band They Might Be Giants performed many of their most popular songs to a packed crowd at the Pearson-Hall Theatre this past Saturday.
Folk-rock duo Common Rotation opened the show, quickly winning the crowd over with their combination of wry lyrics and catchy tunes. The set featured songs such as “Indie Rockin'” and a cover of They Might Be Giants’ own “Hey Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal,” ending with an unplugged performance of Lyle Lovett’s “God Will.” Common Rotation also played an acoustic set at the New Dorm on Sunday afternoon, similar to their performance at Mary Lyon last spring.
They Might Be Giants took the stage after a half-hour set change, opening with “Clap Your Hands,” a rock song for kids from their children’s album, “No!” They followed with an eclectic set of songs spanning their two-decade career, including popular hits “Particle Man,” “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” They also performed several songs from their most recent studio album, “The Spine,” such as “Experimental Film” and the Cher parody “Bastard Wants to Hit Me,” which featured keyboardist and accordion-player John Linnell on vocoder.
TMBG’s two frontmen, John Linnell and John Flansburgh, filled the space between songs with lively banter. Guitarist Flansburgh at one point remarked, “We just want you all to know that your SAT scores were so much higher than ours, it’s scary.”
The band also played numerous songs from their more obscure projects, including other ostensibly kid-centric songs like “The Alphabet of Nations” and “John Lee Supertaster,” which chronicles the tale of a fictitious superhero to whom “bitter things taste far more bitter, and sweets taste far, far more sweet.”
Audience participation was common throughout the concert. A memorable moment came during the encore performance of “Violin,” during which Flansburgh exhorted the crowd to do the wave, starting from the members of the band, and spreading back through the crowd up to the balcony, eventually returning back the same way. However, the wave was temporarily halted by the inability of the people in the back of the crowd to see the balcony, resulting in an awkward pause until they figured out what was happening.
After two encores, the band closed the show with live favorite “Why Does the Sun Shine?” and the genre-hopping “Fingertips.”
Student response to the show was enthusiastic. Cynthia Wu ’06, who was largely unfamiliar with They Might Be Giants prior to the show, commented “I’m very happy that they did the Sun song for an encoreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ I was impressed by the atmosphere they were able to achieve in LPAC with the lighting and the fog and everything.” Caitlin Koerber ’08 summed the event up thusly: “If I can dance like a maniac to their music, they MUST be giants.”