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They Might Be Giants

  • Barrymore 2090 Atwood Avenue Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

The beloved, playful art-rockers put on a show for adult fans. Info/tix

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

A band like They Might Be Giants has to put out an age-limit disclaimer on shows like this two-set stand at the Barrymore, as TMBG has written a deluge of educational kids' songs that actually kind of slap. But here, the band will have no trouble digging up hours of adult music from a career that includes one of the few sitcom themes worth listening to and a continuous stream of art-rock classics, like "Birdhouse In Your Soul," "Don't Let's Start," and everything on 1994's album John Henry.  

On 2018's  I Like Fun, the band's 20th studio album, TMGB again jams childlike wonder together with realistic dread, producing songs like "Lake Monster," which foretells an awakening of water creatures who are going to vote. (For what or for whom the creatures will vote is unclear. Perhaps it's a reference to red-state working-class voters living in inland freshwater post-industrial hubs.) The rest of I Like Fun is loaded with horns, punchy guitar riffs, and sing-along choruses, most successfully deployed on "All Time What," which sheds quirkiness, instead mainlining an efficient pop-punk jam. TMGB's foregrounded politics continue on the recent single, "The Communists Have The Music," which plays with the stereotype that leftists have recently written all the good tunes. (By god. It's true.) It's like educational music for teenagers, with references to Ayn Rand, Friedrich Engels, anarchists, and the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Throw in the promise of live improvisation, and trumpeter Curt Ramm from Bruce Springsteen's touring band, and you've got a decidedly adult-oriented evening with TMBG. —Reid Kurkerewicz

Earlier Event: October 21
Leslie Damaso and Jason Kutz
Later Event: October 24
Bisbee '17