Mixed Reviews of TMBG: An Outsider’s View

So, I’ve actually seen They Might Be Giants before. I once won free tickets to see Elvis Costello, and TMBG opened up. One thing has remained the same since I last saw TMBG: they are still a bad band.

This is of course not to say that I wasn’t entertained by the concert. When TMBG broke out with “Little Birdhouse in Your Soul,” I started dancing and jumping around. I’ll admit that fact openly. In fact, I was dancing around and having a fairly good time during a few songs of the show. This doesn’t negate the fact that TMBG is bad.

I guess there are those who find an accordion a viable instrument to use when coupled with a guitar and sometimes witty lyrics. I am not one of those people. I’m also sure that there are those who are entertained by red lights on stick puppets and a pseudo ventriloquist act. Again, I don’t count myself in their number. Nor was I particularly entertained by the “humans versus apes” chant that became not only tired and trite, but exceedingly annoying. In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say that I am one of the multitude that could not care less about any of the “new songs” that TMBG have performed.

The fact is that TMBG is a band with a cult following. Like with any good cult, the fans are enamored by songs that might or might not be any good. For people outside that cult, the songs lack appeal.

I guess I’m wondering a bit about why TMBG was brought to campus. I don’t recall any vote that took place in which I (or anybody else for that matter) voiced any opinion for getting TMBG. But then again, SAC is the same organization who felt a reggae band (from warm, sunny Jamaica) would fit well into the theme of Winter (read cold and cloudy) Carnival.

The larger question then becomes why would SAC want to bring a band who hasn’t released an album in about two years to campus (even though TMBG played a few songs off their “upcoming” album – I doubt Toonerville will have a hard time keeping that one on the shelves).

Now Yo La Tengo recently played at Middlebury and Sonic Youth played at the University of Chicago (and played in Northampton a few weeks ago). Needless to say, I would have much preferred it had either of these bands played at Williams. I do realize that I might be one of the few students who would like to see these bands. Fair enough. At the very least, it would have made sense to involve the student body at large when at least ten thousand dollars were spent to bring the band to campus. That way, cultish bands high on gimmick and low on talent would have to go through some type of evaluation before arriving on campus.

I will admit that people had fun at the show, but I would venture to say that any time as many Williams students as were at the concert get together, people will have fun.

I think that it’s silly to pretend that the music of TMBG had much at all to do with us having fun. I don’t need TMBG to get in a conga line. Instead, I would have liked to spend my time listening to a band that has some musical ability, or at least a band I could have had some voice in choosing.