They Might Be Giants’ 1990 album Flood marked the endearingly nerdy band’s transition from college-radio cult darlings to major-label stars. The album went platinum and includes fan faves like “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” This week, the Giants’ two Johns — Linnell and Flansburgh — will perform the ambitious Flood in its entirety at the Beachland Ballroom. In retooling the record for the stage, the band tried to retain the spirit of the original studio recordings. Pulling that off, while still keeping it fresh, has been a balancing act, explains Linnell. “It just seems sort of contrary to say, ‘We’re going to do a show of our album Flood,’ and then do it in some way that people would feel disappointed by it — like, Why are they messing up this experience?” he says. “The truth is, we can’t faithfully reproduce all the sounds on the album unless we’re just hitting a whole sequence of samples. It seems more interesting to us to do a more live-sounding version.” They Might Be Giants have been feverishly developing some new twists to their live sound that will be unveiled on tour. One central ingredient is multi-instrumentalist and local hero Ralph Carney, who’s played with Tom Waits and Akron legends Tin Huey. “We’ve got a lot of plans for how to utilize his rather vast bag of tricks,” says Flansburgh. “Also, there will be two drum kits onstage, yet it will not be like the Allman Brothers. Our drummer has constructed this kind of singular electronic drum kit. It’s all samples that we’ve created of very unorthodox sounds. It’s very strange. Although it’s very electronic-based, it’s not dance-oriented [or] a bunch of loops and heavy beats.” Depending on the band’s mood, the Flood songs will roll out either before or after a career-spanning set of TMBG tunes, including material from their latest children’s album, Here Comes Science. “The last couple of kids’ records we’ve done have been for very young audiences,” says Flansburgh. “Because it’s a science record, this album is kind of bridging the gap [for] older kids and adults.” Showtime is 8 p.m. Thursday at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $22 advance, $25 day of show. — Michael David Toth
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