At UCLA's Royce Hall
They Might Be Giants
Review by Ross Anthony

The Opener: Moon Hooch

Admittedly, a band consisting of just two saxophonists and a drummer caught my curiosity. They certainly had some wonderful moments. Picture if you will two alpha males crouched and challenging each other, clutching saxes like weapons, wielding them like the horns of two rams circling each other suspiciously to an infectiously pounding house beat. Odd, fun, bold. Sadly, however, much of their melodic work became repetitious. Even an absolutely impressive display of arpeggio dexterity and speed was overused to the point of diluting itself. That said, the Hooch talked a good story at the mic, and the crowd seemed to like them.

The Headliner: TMBG

I'm a fan of "They Might Be Giants." I've got several of their quirky CD's (which sound even more odd when you hear the songs on a random shuffle). I attended a concert of theirs back in the early 90's as well. But, aside from catching the odd TV theme or kid's tune, these day's I haven't heard anything more recent from them. To my surprise they decided to divide their concert in 2 musically distinct parts. During the first part, they played every song from their debut album (it so happens, that title was not in my collection). But instead of playing start to finish, they played it from best song to worst song, based on their favorites, because "It's not all about you." They titled the first half "Dreamin" and the second half "Dancin." To kick off "Dreamin'," one of the John's shouted before they played, "Let the downward spiral begin!" And thus went the rest of the concert, replete with quality quirky music, punctuated with fresh quirky verbal intros, outros, and occasional tangenting narratives. At one point during "Dancin'" they even brought out the sock puppets and video camera, projecting their charming banter and harmonies through the mouths of socks and onto the huge, stage-sized screen. How much fun is that!? Pretty fun, I say! And, as is their style, with an hour's worth of music left, they invited those in the cheap seats to flood the isles and come up front. This created a warm, friendly, happenin', communal environment; however, those with great seats up front were forced to stand for the remaining 60 minutes.

Also, the mix was a tad muddy. Worse, the vocals needed more V's. The Giants write wonderfully unpredictable lyrics that really should be decipherable even live. Sadly however, while most of their wonderful harmonies, and all of their between-song banter was clear, only 10-20% of the lyrics made it through the mix to our brains.

The Giants are comprised of two talented Johns - real musicians who seem to pride themselves on writing tunes that no one else in the world would ever write. They've purposely twisted timings and structures and lyrics. The Johns should be praised, not only because the songs are great fun for listeners, but because they played what they wanted without trying to make it big by playing what they thought we wanted. Stop what you're doing right now (which is reading this review) and go write them a praisey letter.

All in all, sweet venue, great band, powerful, fun, alive performance, faulted mix.

The Venue: Royce Hall UCLA:

A beautiful hall with a nice slope to the comfortable seating. Parking (once discovered) was quite simple (in and out in just a few minutes), but cost $12. (Take Sunset, then go south into campus on Royce Drive to Parking Structure #5.)

-- Books by Ross Anthony, Author/Illustrator --

  • They Might Be Giants. Copyright © 2013.
  • Based on the October 26th, 2013 performance at The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA Royce Hall. They Might be Giants is John Flansburgh and John Linnell.

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 29-Oct-2013 09:06:33 PDT