They Might Be Giants; Roseland, 8 NW 6th
Though some might know them best for penning the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle, They Might Be Giants started out as a bizarre, even terrifying art-pop band. The duo of Johns Flansburgh and Linnell made a name for themselves in the early-'80s NYC scene for being an indefatigable, theatrical live band and by operating Dial-a-Song, a free service where listeners could call the band's personal landline—although this was before they were called landlines—and listen to songs recorded on their answering machine. (Incredibly, it's still in effect, albeit at a different phone number.) Since making the move to a major label with 1990's Flood, TMBG's identity has become inextricably associated with novelty material, a thin line they'd always skirted anyway. That is not to say they necessarily got soft: "Birdhouse in Your Soul," a love song to a canary-shaped nightlight written in traditional, overly literalist They Might Be Giants fashion, is still the catchiest thing they ever wrote. And Apollo 18's suite of 15-second jingles, "Fingertips," is pretty hilarious (the first time you hear it, anyway). Still, the group's best and most enduring work are their first two records: their 1986 self-titled debut and 1988's Lincoln, in which a genuine strangeness and outsider-fueled irreverence is tempered by immaculate pop sensibilities and an earnestness that never really carried over to their later efforts.
St. Johns Bizarre w/Tango Alpha Tango, Mic Capes, the Shivas, Sapient, Tezeta Band, DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid; Plaza Stage at St. Johns Bizarre, N Lombard & Philadelphia
The annual St. Johns Bizarre is now in its ninth year, and this year's musical lineup—featuring the inter-genre stew of Tezeta Band, Mic Capes (of the Resistance), garage-pop stalwarts the Shivas, and more—validates its reputation as being the only actually eclectic street fair in Portland.