Flight of the Conchords killed during their second sold-out show at Town Hall in New York City on May 7. The New Zealand-based singing/acting digi-folk rock comedy duo (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) — Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, formerly of New Zealand band the Black Seeds — are a triple threat: they have the looks, the jokes and the talent. And on stage, the duo delivers the same amusing dry banter, geeky witticisms and hilarious, high-energy songs as they do on screen.
Though it’s been a year since the first season of the band’s successful HBO series aired (the second is set to begin in 2009), touring gives the Conchords a chance to promote their Grammy-winning self-titled full-length debut (2007’s Flight of Conchords, via Subpop), work out new material, and get back to their roots, so to speak. The Conchords’ concept is even better live.
On stage it’s a basic setup: two stools, a couple of acoustic guitars, a sampler, and a keytar. There is no script and no silly subplots — which is good, because the songs are really the best part anyway. The frenetic energy and spontaneity of the antics they first tried on their BBC radio program in 2005, for example, were intoxicatingly funny. And the audience was willing to play along; some threw gifts of mini robots, an eye patch and an old T-shirt.
The set list (a few crumpled papers the duo fumbled with throughout the night, which may or may not have had anything written on them at all) included extended versions of “Inner City Pressure,” "Hip-Hopopotamus vs. The Rhymenoceros," and “Business Time.” They debuted new tunes as well. “I Told You I Was Freaky” is a bass-fueled jam celebrating the joys of getting down and dirty.
The comedic bits and silly asides were fittingly peppered in between songs. Clements and McKenzie play off each other so well, it’s difficult to tell if they’re acting or just being themselves. There was a sampler slip up, Clements lost his pick, McKenzie forgot some lyrics, and there were some insipid song request shouts followed by what Clements amusingly called "self-policed" shushing. But nothing could harsh the Conchords’ cool mellow.
During a self-imposed “stretching break,” the band took a two-minute breather to lie on the stage and grab a drink while Wham’s “Christmas Time” played in the background. After an long version of “The Humans Are Dead,” Clements cracked: “If I were a reviewer, I’d call that indulgent.”
Yes, but that’s part of the fun.
TV Series: http://www.hbo.com/conchords