The Twin Quasars of Rock

Oh, we know why the sun shinesI have been trying to see They Might Be Giants for almost two decades now — ever since I heard “Flood” at a film-school party and instantly fell in love with their nerd-rock brilliance.

And after a few false starts, and one miserable night in 2003 when I had a ticket in my hand and wasn’t able to get to the show, I finally caught up with Messrs Flansburgh and Linnell at the Mod Club last night.

It was totally rocking … but then, I expected nothing less. They Might Be Giants are one of the unsung heroes of the rock-and-roll show; you wouldn’t think their wonderful, intelligent and occasionally heartbreaking songs could be turned into a wall-shaking, ear-shredding celebration of power chords, but that’s more or less what they do every time they step up to the stage.

Seriously. One has not fully lived until one has heard the band turn a sleepy 1950s children’s song about astronomy into a thrash-metal anthem.

I’ve been listening to their latest album, “The Else“, for the last week or so. It’s perhaps not as immediately grabby as their last release, “The Spine“, but it’s growing on me — enough that I didn’t mind it when they threw about half of it into their set list, anyway.

Incidentally, if you want to get a sense of the band as both performers and artists, check out A.J. Schnack’s marvelous fan testimonial-slash-documentary “Gigantic“, which makes an excellent — and almost entirely subliminal — argument for the Johns as the bruised but optimistic soul of post-9/11 New York.

At least, that’s what I tell myself to explain why I wept my way through the second half.