The blue lights on the stage dimmed, and a cheer rippled through the audience at College Street Music Hall. The anticipation was palpable among a crowd ranging in age from teenagers to people in their 50s.
When They Might Be Giants emerged on stage, with John Flansburgh on the guitar and John Linnell on the accordion, the crowd burst into screams.
On Friday, They Might Be Giants, an alternative rock band formed in 1982 by Flansburgh and Linnell, performed in New Haven, the first stop on a 50-city United States tour to promote the band’s new studio album, “I Like Fun.” The show also featured the duo’s long-standing live lineup, drummer Marty Beller, bassist Danny Weinkauf and lead guitarist Dan Miller, as well as Curt Ramm on the trumpet.
“We’re very excited to be here in a brand-new facility,” Linell told the audience at the beginning of the show. “[It’s] so clean, it’s like your parents’ house.”
The audience roared with laughter and the high energy continued throughout the first set. After a short break, the band started the second set with slower and quieter songs with only Flansburgh on the acoustic guitar, Linnell on the accordion and Ramm on trumpet, before returning to a rock-and-roll style. The band played a mix of old favorites, such as “New York City,” and new songs from its recently released album. Horn instruments such as the trumpet, trombone and euphonium, performed by Ramm, and contra alto clarinet, by Lindell, featured prominently during the show.
“They’re fantastic in concert,” said Eve Neiger, a concert attendee who also works at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. “They do improvisations, and it’s clear that they have a blast on stage so the audience has fun too.”
She also enjoyed the fact that the band played several songs that are rarely played live, such as “Shoehorn With Teeth.” Neiger added that it was great to see many generations of fans in one place.
Several families attended the show. Jessica and Todd Sperry came with their 14-year-old daughter, Marley, who had received the family tickets as a Christmas present.
Jessica Sperry said she and her husband had been fans of the band since high school, and that they brought Marley to a They Might Be Giants children show when she was four.
“Now, [Marley] is old enough to come to the adult show,” Jessica Sperry said.
Marley said she enjoyed the band’s unique sounds, particularly the accordion. Flansburgh and Linnell’s voices are so distinctive, Marley added, it is easy to pick them out of a crowd.
Beth Kennedy, who has been a fan of They Might Be Giants since her college days, also attended with her daughter, Annie.
“The band is extremely creative and eclectic and just really weird, and I like that,” Beth said. “They write about things that nobody else would really think to make a song about, such as fingernails.”
Brianna Quirk, another attendee, said she likes that she does not always understand the band’s lyrics.
“They are a little confusing but I like that because life is confusing,” Quirk said. Quirk noted that she attended the show with her husband, who had introduced her to the band, and that the couple played one of the band’s songs, “She’s an Angel,” at their wedding.
Annie said she has heard only a couple of the band’s songs, but Beth thinks otherwise.
“She probably knows more of their songs than she’s aware of,” Beth said. “They are the guys who wrote the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song.”
Besides adult rock songs, They Might be Giants has also released albums for children such as “Here Come the ABCs” and “Here Comes Science.”
Le Vi Pham | firstname.lastname@example.org