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I don’t think anyone really knows how much I nerd out about They Might Be Giants. I was 16 the first time I saw them live, the rest of high school I saw TMBG so many times I lost count. I had a group of friends that would drive all over New England with me, those were some good times. The teenage me became strongly attached to the angst filled obliqueness of the lyrics, they introduced me to the happy sounding sad song. As I got older I grew to appreciate the performance art that their live show can often be. I still hardly pass up the chance to see TMBG.

This year TMBG released two of their best albums in the last ten years and are riding high on the current nerd renaissance. The show at Showbox Sodo was pretty spot on. The recent albums have the sound of the early ones, and the show reflected their renewed enthusiasm. The Johns were  loving it. The set list covered most of their discog, with only a couple of questionable choices. I don’t think that many people really care to hear “Subliminal” or “Snail Shell”, it’s doubtful they are anyone’s favorite songs. Also, I think it is time they retire “Particle Man”, it sounds unfortunately dated, and at this point most people on earth have seen them perform it. The rest of the set list was curated nicely. The chosen new songs were good ones, highlights on “Marty Beller Mask” and a surprisingly good version of “You Probably Get That A Lot”.  “Fingertips” was one of the best versions I’ve seen, and it was awesome to hear “The Guitar” and “Dead” as the second encore.

Subliminal
Can’t Keep Johnny Down
Celebration
Why Does the Sun Shine?
Snail Shell
Fingertips
Old Pine Box
Birdhouse In Your Soul
Damn Good Times
Ana Ng
Battle For the Planet of the Apes
Judy is Your Viet Nam
Withered Hope
Marty Beller Mask
We Live in a Dump
You Probably Get That A Lot
Spoiler Alert
Cloisonne
Alphabet of Nations
Particle Man
Famous Polka
Careful What You Pack
The Mesopotamians
1st Encore
How Can I Sing Like a Girl?
When Will You Die?
2nd Encore
The Guitar
Dead

A couple of years ago in Portland friends got me tickets to see Crystal Castles at Backspace a tiny coffee shop/performance space. At the time I knew nothing about them. The show was beyond crowded and we couldn’t see a thing, aside from the occasion arm or flap of hair. They sounded alright, their use of low-fi electronics and punk vocals was intriguing  enough for me to get their first album. The album was good, but I never fell in love with it. They released their second album last year, and my opinion of them changed. The second album is all sorts of dynamic and it became one of my favorite bike riding albums.  I knew it would be worth seeing them again when their show at Showbox Market was announced. Unfortunately the show got moved to Showbox SoDo, which is a terrible, terrible venue. Before Crystal Castles came out somebody warned us that Alice Glass had broken her ankle and was told to cancel the tour, moments later the venue went dark and the music started pounding. Because of the warehouse nature of the venue the sound was full of reverb and echo, but that didn’t matter. The light show, the energy from the music, and the ultra excited crowd brought the show to a frenetic level of enjoyment. Most of the time Alice Glass stayed supported by the mic stand, other times she was floating over the crowd kept aloft by the packed house and not missing a beat. They tore through a set comprised mostly from the most recent album, and  amped yet very dark versions of the older songs. I’m not ashamed to admit that I danced my ass off. I look forward to hearing the directions they go in, for such a young group, I expect good things of them.

I was blown away by this show, I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor, this is their first tour in a very long time. As excited as I was for the show,  I knew it wouldn’t be much to watch.  There would be a bunch of folks (mostly seated) playing subtle music that slowly builds to a frenetic apex, with songs lasting up to 20 minutes. I was a tad worried that Godspeed’s apocalyptic chamber rock sounds great on headphones or lounging at home, but possibly hard to stand through. It wasn’t, they took us to another place for 2 1/2 hours. I mean holy crap do they have their sound together. The set list stretched all their albums, but I have no idea of the songs titles. When they are playing they are one beast, and I could have watched them for days. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with GY!BE