Standing in line at Houston's White Oak Music Hall waiting for the doors to open, I overheard a conversation from a group of middle aged couples. Two brothers and their wives stood talking about their favorite records by They Might Be Giants, and how, they thought, the band wanted you to listen to them. Was Flood meant to be listened to straight through, or did the band want you to randomly jump from song to song? "Well they came out before CDs were even a thing, so they must want you to listen straight through."
That isn't entirely true, but isn't too far off since Flood was released in the general era of when CDs first became popular in the everyday home stereo. However, the simple fact that there is a debate on which came first, They Might Be Giants, or CDs themselves, shows the longevity of this band.
The line to enter the venue extended down the block for the nearly sold-out show. And once inside, the generational span of the audience was something rarely seen at a live show. Standing next to me in the front row was someone who looked to barely meet the 14 year-old age requirement, and you didn't have to go far to find fans well into their 60s.
It seems the trick that the band has been able to pull off is to find their way into the musical hearts of young people, and stay there. I'm sure many of my generation remember their features on Tiny Toons. Particle Man and Istanbul were stuck in my head before I even knew who the band actually was. After some musical growth, and general aging, I started to appreciate their broader catalogue and stayed a fan to this day.
Years after that and with a number of albums under their belts, they traveled more earnestly into children's music, recording a series of albums like, Here Come the ABCs and Here Comes Science which captured a whole new audience of young people. There is no doubt those kids who listened to those albums and truly love music have, or will, find all of the other great work the band has made and stay with them for years.
Aside from their expansive catalogue and what I assume is their strategy for capturing fans early, they are captivating entertainers and musicians. Not because of some big elaborate stage show, but because the music is great, the band behind them is tight, and they seem to genuinely enjoy what they are doing. They are funny on stage and engage both with each other and with the audience, and not in the "It's great to be in Houston tonight!", hold for applause, type of way.
As the band continues to make their way across the US supporting their new album I Like Fun you would be doing yourself a favor to go see the show. And take your kids with you.