Seeing They Might Be Giants

For months, I've been looking forward to last night's show by They Might Be Giants.

For days, I dread actually going to the show because I had hoped so much to take a particular someone. That fizzled, and I didn't really want to go alone.

I remember I bought my first They Might Be Giants tape, "Lincoln," from the Record Bar at the River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg. I bought it the same day of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. I was vaguely aware of the sadness as I unwrapped the casette deck and played in the basement office of my parent's house in Lynchburg.

The album made me incredibly happy, despite the sadness I felt about all those people who died on a flight home from England. For whatever reason, those two events are linked together.

I carry with me a lot of sadness. It's bound to happen, given what's happened in my life. Music has powered me forward and They Might Be Giants played a big role the early foundation of my adulthood.

Don't Let's Start" is my favorite song of all time. There's a perfection to it that resonates in me, makes me wish I could write a pop song as perfect. A pop song about starting or not starting a relationship.

I wondered whether I should go at all. Wouldn't I be better off at home, not spending money, now that I only have one job. Did I really want to go some place without a date? Did I really want to go alone?

In the end, I forced myself to go. I knew I'd see people there, and I did. Several people said hello given my time serving them drinks, and we commiserated over me no long being in that position.

What position am I in now? I'm not certain. The important thing was, I wanted to see one of my favorite bands in my home town. And I got a great show in the process. I showed up halfway through Jonathan Coulter's set. He was enjoyable but nothing he did resonated with me until the final song, because it was the least jokey of all the tracks he played.

Until TMBG showed up, though, I was in a bit of a panic attack. I'm not sure why. The reality of ending my time at Court Square Tavern and also ending yet another relationship has been hitting me hard the past two days. What is my identity going forward?

I don't know. I know I want to play more music, I know I want to meet more people, I know I want to make more friends. I know I want this next chapter of my life to be as positive as possible. As a person with low-grade depression, staying positive can be pretty damned hard for me, but the past three years of my life have been about learning how to throw off the negative feelings, especially on the days where the sadness comes like a tsunami. And this week, wave after wave of sadness has been crashing over me.

Yet, I made myself go. went to see They Might Be Giants, my heroes, and the show was incredible and made me happy beyond belief. I was entertained and I got to watch music being played. As I study the guitar more, I hear live music very differently. I understand music structure more than I ever have before. This is the direction I want my life to go in.


In part, because when I was 14 I discovered a band called They Might Be Giants. They had a style to them that felt crisp as well as Do It Yourself. Their second album "Lincoln" was a treasure trove of interesting quirky songs with sharp lyrics. If they could do it, I could do it.

And tonight, the two Johns and the rest of their band played about five songs from the album, such as "Cowtown", "Where Your Eyes Don't Go," as well as a power-guitar version of "Ana Ng" which I really appreciated.

I wish I had danced more, but as I said, I was feeling pretty down so my energy was pretty low. I'll take lessons from that. Even when I was there, I felt like I was only half way there.

Being low-key helped me focus on the performance. I was in a clinic watching two musicians I respect do their thing. I loved watching them entertain the crowd. They had a puppet show which was hilarious, and added a whole new perspective to the interlude in the song "Snowball in Hell" that cracked me up.

But the highlight of the evening for me was the live performance of Fingertips. That was a gimmick they did on their album Apollo 18. Fingertips is a collection of mini-songs - snippets that are quick and simple. They are one-phrase nuggets. In so many ways, that is what I seek to do with my improv songs. Is it possible to express one idea fully in a very short amount of time?

So, I went, and I document, and I end this post with a public posting of something I put on YouTube. A quick two minute clip from playing with this guy Jordan Wade who has graciously loaned me his electric guitar. No, it's not rocket science, and no, it's not going to win me any awards. But, strumming a guitar wards off the sadness, wards off the doubt, wards off the demons inside of me.


Anonymous said...

Try the band "Future Islands", song Tim man on Youtube...also, "Creflodollarministies.org". I've come through a long series of depression, and I know how awful this town can be. then the next moment, it's nice again.

Sean Tubbs said...

I love Future Islands, but had not had heard that track. Thank you for reminding me about them. and I loved the closing minutes of the video. The track "Old Friend" was a favorite of mine back in 2009. Since then I sort of forgot, but now I'm very pleased to rediscover them.

Eric Friesen said...

"No, it's not rocket science, and no, it's not going to win me any awards."

I like that you put yourself out there with your writing and your music. Admire it. Keep it up, Sean.

Sean Tubbs said...

Thanks, Eric. Are you still playing? Hope so. Definitely seeking to ramp things up in 2012.