Review: Flight of the Conchords Showcases Hilarious New Material
Flight of the Conchords’ self-titled HBO TV series was canceled in 2009.
Yet, that doesn’t seem to have hurt this New Zealand comedic music group’s popularity. If anything, the duo -- consisting of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement -- seems to be a bigger deal now than it was when the show went off the air over six years ago.
The Conchords are certainly flying high on their current U.S. tour, which touched down for two shows this week in the Bay Area. The troupe performed a sold-out concert on Monday at the 2,000-plus-seat Masonic in San Francisco and then was scheduled to follow up with a gig on Tuesday at -- we kid you not -- the 22,000-capacity Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.
The Conchords were hugely entertaining on Monday, charming the capacity crowd with two hours of witty stage banter and hilarious songs.
The set list boasted plenty of longtime fan favorites, drawn from the group’s two studio offerings, 2008′s eponymous debut and 2009′s “I Told You I Was Freaky,” all of which were eagerly embraced by the highly enthusiastic crowd.
The show also featured many new songs, which produced just as many -- if not more -- laughs from the crowd as the old stuff. The lasting impression was that McKenzie and Clement certainly have enough worthy new material to put out a third studio album.
The two comedians-musicians, who played fictionalized versions of themselves on the HBO sitcom, opened the show with the party anthem “Chips and Dips.” It’s yet another delusional nod to the Conchords’ self-proclaimed rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with the humor coming from how difficult it is to ever imagine them walking on anything other than the mild side.
“You can tell from that song that we really know how to party,” Clement boasted, unconvincingly.
They’d later talk at length about the crazy debauchery to be found backstage at a Conchords’ show. It gets so wild, in fact, that Clement is known to eat half a banana and just leave the other half laying around. (Let’s see Keith Richards top that!)
But that’s apparently what can happen when you reach the pinnacle of rock superstardom.
“We are in a position that we can have as many bananas as we want,” McKenzie said. “And it starts to go to your head.”
Although the evening had a strong focus on new material, the Conchords knew that there were some specific older tunes that fans were hoping to hear. And they were willing to revive those Conchords classics, as long as the fans promised not to enjoy them too much.
“Don’t get too excited,” Clement said before launching into the now-iconic “Robots.” “We ask you not to get too excited because it hurts the feelings of our other (songs).”
The band, which was accompanied for much of the night by the “New Zealand Symphony Orchestra” (which actually turned out to be just one cellist), went through a goodly amount of musical genres and styles.
There was the futuristic “Robots,” which featured the standout binary vocal solo -- as the guys started chanting zeros and ones. That was followed by the French language favorite “Foux du Fafa,” which had the crowd in hysterics. And perhaps the song of the night was the Western-flavored “The Ballad of Stana.”
“This is the strangest story you’ll ever hear,” Clement said as he opened the tune. “Unless, you can’t hear -- then it will be the strangest story you’ll ever lip read.”
Arj Barker, who played the Conchords’ friend Dave on the TV show, opened the show and proved to be a terrific stand-up comedian. Those in need of a good laugh should try to catch one of Barker’s upcoming sets at Cobb’s Comedy Club. He performs Thursday through Sunday at the landmark San Francisco comedy venue ( www.cobbscomedy.com ). Follow Jim Harrington at twitter.com/jimthecritic .