Live Review: They Might Be Giants, Smaal Cats

7 November 2015 | 10:33 am | Xavier Rubetzki Noonan

"It’s admirable to watch a band who still love what they do, and love that others love it too."

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Sydney band Smaal Cats began the night with their new single Morning Kerfuffle, and immediately their cleverly-written garage-rock began winning smiles from the crowd. With cheeky interplay between guitars and drums, as well as a seemingly non-stop parade of catchy riffs, their songs were infused with tangible and hugely enjoyable personality. Linking their songs with canny prog-rock precision, there wasn’t much time for chatter, but the band definitely made an impression on a very friendly crowd.

They Might Be Giants are a goddamned cultural institution, with over three decades of beloved material up their sleeves. But sometimes, they travel to Australia and don’t get to sleep for four days straight, leading to some pretty interesting conversations on stage. Thankfully, the band’s wooziness didn’t come through in their performance, which included songs from each of their 16 albums (except one, added guitarist John Flansburgh, and they’re not even sure which one). It seems inconceivable that a fan of the band could've left the venue unhappy, as TMBG’s two sets included plenty of deep cuts (it was great to hear Where Your Eyes Don’t Go and Careful What You Pack) as well as countless fan favourites (such as Particle Man and of course Doctor Worm).

Perhaps most rewarding was the band’s full live recreation of Fingertips, a bizarrely stitched-together collection of 20-odd micro-songs, which left the uninitiated scratching their heads. Or perhaps it was the band’s fantastic cover of Destiny’s Child’s Bills, Bills, Bills. It was certainly hard to deny the band’s chops when the wacky children’s song Robot Parade opened up to a massive duelling-guitar-and-bass-clarinet solo section. Beyond the song choices, though, it was the group’s emphasis on entertaining which shone through: with so many years of performance and experimentation under their belt, it’s admirable to watch a band who still love what they do, and love that others love it too.