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"GIANT STEPS" by Peg Tyre
New York Magazine, Feb. 6, 1989:

They Might Be Giants are playing a rocking set to a sellout crowd at the Knitting Factory, a performance space on Houston Street. It is obvious tonight that the group's popularity has far outstripped the small club's limited capacity. The audience is tightly packed from wall to wall. It greets each song with a delirious shout.

"Use the stick", calls out a fan. And Flansburgh obliges, pulling out a seven-foot branch and persuading a young man from the audience to "play" it. The man, with a curly mane of hair and tight jeans tucked into calf-high suede boots, looks more like a rock star than either Flansburgh or Linnell. "This is our U2 tribute," deadpans Linnell.
With a few bars of practice, the young man, named Peter, pounds the stick on stage in time to a bluesy-bop number, "Lie Still, Little Bottle'. He knows the song so well that he is able to pound out the tricky offbeats while crouching and, with a touch of jazz bravado, closing his eyes. At the end of the song, Peter extends the stick to the audience, which applauds this bit of rock parody. "We'll be opening for Peter and the Stick at the Meadowlands," says Linnell.

But amid the laughter, the Giants also manage to work in a few of their newer songs, which show an even more serious side.
"I've become more interested in writing songs that are more direct," says Linnell. "Ambiguity has been a good friend, but I'm finding that it is actually harder to write a good straightforward lyric than an obscure one."
In the dim light of the small Knitting Factory stage, Linnell croons "I've Got a Match," a quiet song about the disastrous end of a love affair. "You think it's always sensitive and good/You think that I want to be understood/I've got a match/Your embrace and my collapse."
Later, after the crowd has filtered out, the Giants sit in the stark dressing room. Linnell, looking comatose, sprawls on a ratty couch and sips coffee. Flansburgh and Kitman chat with friends who filter in.

"The place is overcrowded, and they are still turning people away for the second show," says Flansburgh. "It's a turning point for us. We can't play clubs this small anymore." He takes a swig of beer and smiles. "It looks like we have reached critical mass."