Fly by: Conchords give RIMAC the Wednesday night business
New Zealand's "fourth best comedic folk duo" soars.
By Eric Yates, SDNN
Thursday, May 21, 2009 no comments | be the first to comment!
Flight of the Conchords at RIMAC (Photo by Eric Yates)
Thereâ€™s a common phrase that seems to exist among fans of Flight of the Conchords: â€œIf you know, you know. If you donâ€™t, well thenâ€¦â€
What those said fans â€œknowâ€ is the brilliance that is the global sensation of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie.
But after winning a Grammy-award (Best Comedy Album) and having not one, but two successful seasons of their HBO sitcom of the same name, Flight of the Conchords are well on their way to rising past their current ranks of being admittedly â€œNew Zealandâ€™s fourth best comedic folk duo.â€
The kooky Kiwis were in San Diego Wednesday night at RIMAC Arena as part of their tour. Playing to a packed house of hardcore fans (and even a few stalker-like â€œMel wannabesâ€), the boys didnâ€™t disappoint. They performed a wide-variety of song stylings, and traded banter with one another and the audience, alike.
Trying to explain exactly who they are and what they do is a difficult task. Polarizing might not be the right word, but there seems to a dichotomy that exists in the often vapid landscape of pop culture when Conchords are concerned: You either donâ€™t get it, or you love it to death. A word of advice to anyone daring enough to try to put them in a box: Youâ€™d better have a really big box.
Which harkens back to that aforementioned phrase. Those in attendance Wednesday night, most definitely â€œknow.â€
After opening with two tracks from the seriesâ€™ second season â€” â€œToo Many Dicksâ€ and â€œHurt Feelingsâ€ â€” the guys waxed philosophical, and had the audience rolling.
â€œDonâ€™t be confused with what weâ€™re doing now,â€ said Clement. â€œThis is just us talking. Itâ€™s not a really strange song.â€
â€œThis is more like professional talking though,â€ added McKenzie. â€œThe kind of talking you all do, isnâ€™t really the kind of talking we are doing right now. I mean, we canâ€™t really come on stage and talk about what a nice day it was todayâ€¦ although come to think of it, it was quite a nice day.â€
â€œYes, it was rather lovely, wasnâ€™t it,â€ said Clement.
And while their spot-on comic timing and ad-libbing were enjoyable, it was their musical versatility and uber-catchy ditties that took spectators on a wild ride.
Their seductive smorgasbord of songs included everything from a futuristic electro-synthesized anthem â€œRobotsâ€ about the robotic uprising of the late â€™90s; the country-western folk tale â€œStanaâ€ about a gun-wielding renegade cowboy; the childrenâ€™s storybook fairytale â€œAlbi, the Racist Dragon,â€ which featured Clementâ€™s soothing storyteller narrator voice and the delightful pings of a xylophone and kids piano; to the nonsensical rap duel featuring â€œHiphopopotamusâ€ (Clement) vs. â€œRhymenocerosâ€ (McKenzie).
The fellas even crooned about current events in their jazzy political activism anthem â€œThink About It.â€ In addition to Clement wondering why sneakers cost so much even though â€œtheyâ€™re made by little slave kids,â€ he also alluded to a recent pandemic. â€œSwine flu is another, one of these issuesâ€¦oh canâ€™t we get these pigs some tissues?â€
On â€œCarol Brown,â€ a contemporary version of Paul Simonâ€™s â€œ50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,â€ the duo sang, â€œFelicity said there was no electricityâ€¦Emily, no chemistryâ€¦Fran ran and turned out to be a manâ€¦Flo had to go, I couldnâ€™t go with the flow.â€
The Conchords thrilled the crowd with some of their popular staples, including â€œBusiness Timeâ€ (a Barry White-inspired homage to sweet love-making,) â€œThe Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room),â€ â€œJenny,â€ the whimsical conversation examining the fuzzy details about how and when two people met, and â€œBowie,â€ a â€œSpace Oddityâ€ ode to the British rock god that features Clements absolutely spot-on Bowie accent.
Another highlight of the evening was an opening half-hour set from comedian Arj Barker, who plays Dave, the politically-incorrect pawn shop owner, on the groupâ€™s smash-hit sitcom.
All in all, it was an utterly enjoyable foray across the menagerie of music. Whether or not the fellas return for more seasons of television show remains to be seen. But if not, expect the repertoire to continue to grow, along with the groupâ€™s rabid â€œfan base.â€ (Thanks, Murray Hewitt.) For at least one night, Flight of the Conchords was the most beautiful band in the room (in the whole wide room.)
Now you know.
Eric Yates is SDNNâ€™s deputy managing editor. You can reach him at eric.yates(at)sdnn.com.
SILLY SEX SYMBOLS: Conchords at RIMAC
Walking into the RIMAC arena on UCSD's La Jolla campus, I was apprehensive about seeing my favorite kiwis, Flight of the Conchords. I worried that, having watched all the episodes of both seasons of their HBO comedy, their material wouldn't be funny once I'd already heard it. On the contrary, I should have been worried that seeing the musical parody duo live and on stage -- their natural environment -- would render the television product stale, souring the taste for future seasons.
The self-described "guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement met while roommates at Victoria University of Wellington, and while the roots of their international success can be traced back to the HBO show that premiered in 2007 and a BBC radio series before that, the pair had developed a cult following and garnered several comedy awards from their beginnings as a live musical comedy act.
And it is live where the best of Bret and Jemaine comes out. As opposed to the TV show, where, at times, the plots that inevitably lead to musical numbers can seem forced, the chemistry and pace of the live act is seamless, all the way down to the awkward pauses.
Sometimes they will throw in a boring section, or just silence, in order to "make it that much better when (they) do something great," Jemaine said.
Jemaine and Bret took the stage to a sold-out crowd Wednesday, and gave the fans and the cameras filming for a future TV broadcast exactly what they wanted. They have their unassuming, tongue-in-cheek back-and-forth running like an efficient New Zealand sheep farm.
Just like the HBO show, the two poked fun at their small, Pacific homeland. A few songs into the concert, they announced the New Zealand symphony orchestra was touring with them, only for Nigel, a single cellist/musician of all trades, to emerge alone.
"New Zealand used to have a full orchestra," Jemaine explained, "with three guys; one played the trumpet and another one danced."
Unlike the TV series in which the low-income struggling musicians have a single, obsessive fan, when they sang songs about women and lovemaking Wednesday evening, such as the hit "Business Time," the college co-eds squealed with delight, waved signs professing their love and hurled cat calls at the stage.
The Conchords, with their scruffy beards and penchant for old west, cowboy-style collared shirts and sweaters with animal portraits, are the unlikeliest of all sex symbols, as if the world had been turned on its head and Weird Al Yankovic was getting more action than Justin Timberlake. But what makes them so lovable is their earnest innocence, poking fun at the world of rock stars and their gaggle of groupies, and their feigned concern for serious issues.
They mock their own status, and that of other stars. After singing a song calling people to action to save the "epileptic dog" population, they explained that they are involved in many causes such as famine and poverty.
"Anything that is big for Bono, is big for us really," Bret explained.
They ended the main set with "Sugar Lumps," a parody of the Black Eyed Peas' inane smash hit "My Humps," putting the guitars down to perform exaggerated pelvic gyrations in front of their screaming fans.
The crowd erupted into a standing ovation as they left the stage, as if the Tritons had just won March Madness or Bono and U2 had just completed an epic concert. Returning for the encore, the duo apologized for the lewd behavior of their "characters" and then went right back to being the silliest sex symbols in the music business.
Jemaine and Bret took the stage to a sold-out crowd Wednesday, and gave the fans and the cameras filming for a future TV broadcast exactly what they wanted.
For at least one night, Flight of the Conchords was the most beautiful band in the room (in the whole wide room.)
LauraK wrote:Thanks for those great reviews, Venus!
But........Jemaine and Bret took the stage to a sold-out crowd Wednesday, and gave the fans and the cameras filming for a future TV broadcast exactly what they wanted.
I haven't heard one thing about this. Anyone know what future tv broadcast this was being filmed for?
ravenhpltc24 wrote:I saw a rumor posted on the Flight of the Conchords imdb board a couple months ago that said "So rumor has it, the shows will be taped live for a DVD to be released Christmas 2009." This kinda makes sense, considering they have been filming each show anyway so people in the more unfortunate seating sections can see what's going on... I, for one, really hope it's true! I'd love a live show DVD.
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