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Live Review: They Might Be Giants, The Community Chest

4 November 2015 | 3:22 pm | Craig English

"The beaming smiles left on the faces of everybody in the theatre were the perfect summation of the happiness this band leaves behind."

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Contrary to the images of Sunday afternoon board games and cuppas with Nanna their name brings to mind, The Community Chest ripped through a bombastic set of big pop-rock sounds that brought the theatre to attention like a short, sharp slap to the face.

One particular song brought Eurogliders' Can't Wait To See You to mind, while others drew upon flavours from bands like The Dandy Warhols and The Pixies. It’d be a stretch to accuse these guys of plagiarism, though; the conviction and tenacity with which they played was impressive, and little else would've fit as a precursor to the mayhem that was about to ensue.

Fresh off the boat from Brooklyn, New York, They Might Be Giants met a rapturous audience with a bellowing "Hello!" and promptly served up Can't Keep Johnny Down and The Mesopotamians, quickly reminding everybody that they were officially the most fun and energetic band on the planet. Over 30 years, both Johns — Flansburgh and Linnell — have finely-tuned their stage banter down to a witty comedic routine that they cleverly intersperse throughout their enormous back catalogue of craziness.

Particle Man was an unexpected joy early on in the set. As the song approached its nonsensical close, the band threw a curveball and built it up to a rampaging arena-rock finish. They were six songs in. Any other band would be peaking at this point but, the seasoned professionals that they are, the Giants were in for the long haul.

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Halfway through their set, Flansburgh coyly uttered: "Now, for those of you who've brought friends along, this is where they'll really be put to the test," as the band covered Destiny's Child's Bills, Bills, Bills and no doubt left some wondering who they'd come to see. The Johns then took to the front of the stage to bring the house down with favourite Istanbul (Not Constantinople) — Linnell putting every single key on his tiny, red accordion to work.

Following a short break, the band reappeared even more energised for a second set, ripping through New York City from Factory Showroom and even stopping momentarily to bring up the house lights, wave at the crowd and say hello, perhaps fearful that everyone had left.

After all manner of hilarity in singing songs about time, revered US presidents and dancing in lesbian bars, the needle on the insanity metre hit its maximum with the eleventy billion short snippets that comprise the Fingertips suite — the final "song" on Apollo 18. After rounding out with Birdhouse In Your Soul and Doctor Worm, the Giants had fulfilled their mission, and the beaming smiles left on the faces of everybody in the theatre were the perfect summation of the happiness this band leaves behind wherever they go.