November 16, 2009

A tough room



Download audio here.



We enjoyed a lively show by They Might Be Giants yesterday afternoon. What we didn't realize when we bought our tickets was that it was a family show promoting their latest children's album, "Here Comes Science" (4:00 did seem a little early for a start time). The audience was full of kids wearing balloon hats and carrying balloon swords, picked up at the family festival before the show.

Last week, TMBG was interviewed in our local weekly, and one question stood out to me about the difference between audiences of adults and audiences of kids.

Independent: You're playing both adult and family shows during this tour. How would you compare them?

TMBG: I'd say the main difference for us as artists is that the kids are a little bit of a tougher room. They don't worry as hard about how we're doing.

Adults want you to succeed onstage. It makes them nervous when the band isn't going over, so they'll bump up the enthusiasm with feedback. They also observe these formal rules of a concert: They face the stage, and they applaud at the end of the song, and they don’t talk during the song because that’s what makes them comfortable. Kids don’t have these same concerns. [Laughs.]

For some of them, you're just what's going on in the room, and they're not all that worried about it being a successful show. They might not applaud, or they might be facing the other way, or they might be talking to their friend … or on the floor. But then there are a lot of young kids who come right up to the front and pump their fists and sing along to all the songs.

It's kind of exciting, actually, to think that we might be introducing kids to rock music or to live concerts. There might be kids out there for whom this is their first live show, and that’s really cool. That’s an important memory.

Watch the video below not just for an introduction to one of my favorite songs from the show, "Meet the Elements," but for an example of a visual that is fun to watch, easy to understand and sticky for how memorable it is! (Lyrics are below.)



Iron is a metal, you see it every day
Oxygen, eventually, will make it rust away
Carbon in its ordinary form is coal
Crush it together, and diamonds are born

Come on come on and meet the elements
May I introduce you to our friends, the elements?
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

Neon's a gas that lights up the sign for a pizza place
The coins that you pay with are copper, nickel, and zinc
Silicon and oxygen make concrete bricks and glass
Now add some gold and silver for some pizza place class

Come on come on and meet the elements
I think you should check out the ones they call the elements
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

Team up with other elements making compounds when they combine
Or make up a simple element formed out of atoms of the one kind

Balloons are full of helium, and so is every star
Stars are mostly hydrogen, which may someday fill your car

Hey, who let in all these elephants?
Did you know that elephants are made of elements?
Elephants are mostly made of four elements
And every living thing is mostly made of four elements
Plants, bugs, birds, fish, bacteria and men
Are mostly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen

Come on come on and meet the elements
You and I are complicated, but we're made of elements
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

Team up with other elements making compounds when they combine
Or make up a simple element formed out of atoms of the one kind

Come on come on and meet the elements
Check out the ones they call the elements
Like a box of paints that are mixed to make every shade
They either combine to make a chemical compound or stand alone as they are

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