I got a few blocks down the street from my house Saturday night before realizing I'd forgotten my earplugs. And I almost didn't go back to get them. I was going to see They Might Be Giants at the NC Museum of Art, so how loud could it be?
Plenty, as it turned out, and I was very glad I turned around to go get those earplugs. The days when the duo of John Linnell and John Flansburgh would play at toy-instrument volumes are long gone. Between the full-band lineup they've sported for more than a decade and the fact that they have a children's-music alter ego to indulge their cutesy side (they also played a soldout kids show Saturday afternoon), TMBG's grownup side is pretty loud and proud.
"This is kind of a rock dream for us," Flansburgh said between songs at one point. While I'm sure he meant that ironically, it fit nevertheless. Even "Birdhouse in Your Soul," the second song in the set, packed a snarl that almost took me aback. But it was still effective, and quirkiness did ultimately rule the evening. They offered up "The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma" as a scientifically correct answer to "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas"; rocked up "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" even more than "Birdhouse"; and paid tribute to the art-museum venue with "Meet James Ensor," about the Belgian painter -- complete with confetti-cannon salute. 'Twas cool.