Friday, May 23, 2008

Live Review: Flight of the Conchords @ Lisner Auditorium, May 9

I don't have HBO, so for a long while I was immune to the charms of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, otherwise known as Flight of the Conchords. Thanks to the due diligence of my friend Laura, however, I was soon a Conchords devotee. I'm even writing this review while wearing my "Redheads not Warheads" tee, bought at the Lisner Auditorium show. But enough about me.

Not ones to shirk the responsibility brought on by fame and fortune, Jemaine and Bret had scheduled not one but two gigs at Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University's event space. The hall was stuffed to the gills, all of us waiting with baited breath to see New Zealand's current favorite sons get their comedy-parody-rock on. And comedy-parody-rock they did, for close to two hours.

The stage was simply set with two stools and an assortment of instruments. Arj Barker, himself on the Conchord's HBO series, opened the show, and got the masses good and warmed up with his jokes about Manassas, having kids (or not, as the case may be), and the perils of modern technology. And then, ladies and gentlemen, it was time for...Flight of the Conchords!

With Barker's introduction, the place erupted into hoots and hollers and shrieks, and the two unassuming Kiwis strolled to their seats with unassuming nonchalance. For the next two hours the duo had the place in stitches, pretty much non-stop. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard, and by the end of the night my face hurt from so much unabated grinning. Affable and eager to please, Clement and McKenzie powered through extended and adapted versions of songs from both the HBO series and the songs pulled therein from the series onto their first CD with Sub Pop. To my chagrin, the delightfully camp Serge Gainsbourg-esque "Foux de Fa Fa" didn't make the cut, but I was appeased with a stellar version of "Bowie," the duo's homage to the many different sounds and visions of David Bowie (and his pointy nipples). Clement's Bowie voice was even more freakishly dead on live, and the song made the crowd go nuts. The biggest ovation came for arguably the biggest hit of the Conchord's television/music career, "Business Time." The bedroom ode to "sweet weekly love" was as saucy and hilarious as can be. At one point the pair abandoned their perches to sit at the lip of the stage, a move that caused a great deal of squealing from the ladies in the audience. There was a good deal of both audience "participation" and crowd banter, which added to the overall joviality of the evening.

Clement and McKenzie could do no wrong on this night, and the laughs kept coming. They showed DC just why HBO gave them their own show, and why Sub Pop inked them to a deal. They are intensely funny, but more than that they are ridiculously likable. The success of the Conchords has as much to do with their material as it does their personalities, and if the show at Lisner was any indication, this pair of (pretty foxy) Kiwis has a long, glorious career in front of them.

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