They Might Be Giants plays the Beachland Ballroom on Thursday. To celebrate the album’s 20th birthday, they’re performing the classic Flood in its entirety, bouncing through ecstatic jams like “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Particle Man,” in addition to other favorites.
The Giants were just a duo when John Flansburgh and John Linnell recorded the disc in fall 1989. But a host of players fleshed out the album into the sterling production, which sounds just as fresh today. For this tour, the group is touring as an six-piece band. To recreate the horn and sampler bits, they’re bringing along Akron native Ralph Carney — a consummate showman, an acclaimed sideman to folks like Tom Waits and uncle of Black Keys drummer Pat Carney.
TMBG also had some impressive help behind the boards for four of Flood's 19 tracks. The Johns spent two-thirds of their recording budget to record “Birdhouse,” “Your Racist Friend,” “We Want a Rock” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).” Before they set out on the tour, Flansburgh and Linnell recalled working with two producers who helped them straddle the worlds of college rock, folk, country and new wave.
Flood’s four key songs were produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, an in-demand team whose credits included Madness’ One Step Beyond ..., Dexys Midnight Runners' Too-Rye-Ay, Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ Punch the Clock and the David Bowie-Mick Jagger cover of “Dancin’ in the Street.” (They would later work on Morrissey’s Kill Uncle and Bush’s Sixteen Stone.)