Friday, May 8, 2009

Flight of the Conchords

"Ah, yis, yis." At the beginning of this month I was able to attend the Flight of the Conchords show at the Northrop, U of M. I had become a quick convert of this "guitar-based digi-bongo accapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" and subsequently apostled my like-humored friend Tim. Their sense of humor and musical collaboration in making extremely silly tunes struck the same 'Chords' as much of our own endeavors.

(If you just want to skip to a good reflection of the kind of musical humor they create, then just skip to the video at the bottom.)

Anyhoo, the Flight of the Conchords are a two-man group. They are composed of two New Zealand comedians/musicians/actors that have since become very big and whose humor has undoubtedly influenced the direction of the art. They write songs in many different genres and most all of them are parodies within themselves. They are excellent musicians and flow with one other seemlessly, especially in their conversational, signing interplay.

A nice passage from one of their 'hip hop' tunes called "Hurt Feelings": 'Now here's a little story to bring a tear to your eye, I was shopping for a wetsuit to scuba dive, but every suit I tried was too big around the thighs, and the assistant suggested I wear a ladies size! I've go hurt feelings...'

We made our approach through the rear alley of the theater and got to say hello-in-passing, to the opening comic, Eugene Mirman, who was having a cigarette out back.

There was an odd haze within the auditorium which may have been the reason the building alarm (woooot, woooot) sounded and they cleared everyone from the auditorium. But once we made our ways to the stairs, everyone was turned around and back we went.

The alarm woooted intermittently for awhile and Eugen Mirman did his stand-up. His ridiculous observations and absurdly perverse inventions can't help but make one giggle.

But then it was Jemain and Bret.

They opened with one of their newer "electronic' hits, but then assumed their stools and guitars for most of the remainder of the show. They would chat and interact and there were screens to project their expressions - a good thing, as this is a show in itself.

It seemed like many people had not heard their stories, jokes and songs before. It felt kind of nice, to hear people react with warm, genuine laughter to something they had heard for the very first time.

There were times when the crowd was supposed to do the refrain of a song, even coached on how to sing it, and they performed poorly. That kind of agitated them a tad bit and understandably so. Of course, I guess I could have sung it, having known it well. But it was the ladies part. And "I'm not going wear a ladies wetsuit, I'm a man!"

There was also some bantering with some guy that wouldn't shut up in the crowd, but he was silenced by Jemaine pretty quickly. I guess its something you have a lot of practice with when your life is a stage and you are the comedian.

The sound, lighting and video screens were great and they allowed you to catch all the important details of the show.

After the U of M crowd brought them back for their encore with a standing ovation, clapping of hands and a unison mimicking of the 'woot, woot, woot' of the alarm, our favorite Kiwis Jemain and Bret returned to the stage. They ended with a medley of their tunes and reminded us that you can go from doing commercials for L&P (best bloody soda in the world) to being on top of the world.

I could go on and on about them. But I think they are a matter of personal taste. I know people that don't care for them. Explore them on YouTube and see what you think. If you written a tune about lovin' grandma, then you're already there!