Flight of the Conchords go balls to the wall in Vancouver

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      At the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on Sunday, May 10.

      When two men take to a stage dressed like robots with glittering disco balls dangling from their, well, balls, while dancing to homemade electro-pop, there is a couple of possible explanations: either the long-awaited and hotly anticipated interpretive-dance version of Spaceballs has finally landed in our fair city, or quirky New Zealand musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords is opening its instantly sold-out Vancouver show with a new song, “Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor”.

      Watch a clip from the Flight of the Conchords' performance at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on Sunday, May 10. Video by Kris Krug.

      Best known for their same-name musical sitcom on HBO, Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are singers, songwriters, and comedic head cases. Having started out in the late ’90s as two funny guys with acoustic guitars, the pair has since put out a self-titled studio album on Sub Pop, won a 2007 Grammy for best comedy album (The Distant Future), and received two Emmy nominations in 2008 for their television series, in which they play fictionalized versions of themselves.

      Having done two previous and not well-attended shows here, the Conchords’ third attempt to crack Vancouver’s veneer was the charm, as the city’s well-coiffed, cable TV–loving masses came out to bust a gut on Sunday night. The sit-down-and-shut-up aura of the Centre’s perfectly positioned purple seats and soaring ceiling was soon forgotten, as the Conchords’ most devoted fans, known for their adamant adoration of the unlikely cult heroes, began heckling the pair to hurry up, stop talking, and play their tunes.

      Among the many PWPs—persons with props—at the show was one die-hard about 10 rows back from the stage who brought the guys an original art piece: a painting depicting the duo as dolphins swimming under a Day-Glo sunset. The canvas was passed head over head to the front, finally landing with Clement when McKenzie was midway through a preamble about LSD, time travel, and teaching David Bowie his own songs. After a quick appraisal, Clement quipped that panties would be preferred, and then the two launched into “Bowie” from their self-titled 2008 breakthrough.

      Seamlessly blending sardonic humour throughout and between songs—as McKenzie put it, they do a song, then talk for a bit, then do another song—the Conchords’ 90-minute live music act lampooned the most mundane aspects of everyday life and pop culture, all in a satirical storytelling style that Richard Pryor in his prime would have admired and with a folksy musicianship that the six-string-slingers in the crowd could approve of.

      Giving in to the hecklers near the end of the show, McKenzie and Clement went all-request, including “Sugalumps”—a pop-rap parody of stupid songs like “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas and “Beep” by the Pussycat Dolls—from the forthcoming sophomore album I Told You I Was Freaky. Doing their best impression of American boy-banders, the Conchords eventually left their guitars behind and roamed the front of the house to sing once again about the apparent source of their creative inspiration: their nuts. Only, this time, minus the disco balls.




      May 12, 2009 at 9:00pm

      It was a dedicated and pretty polite crowd based on all the animal shirts I saw. There were even two Bret look-alikes and a trio of David Bowies (from all the 3 dream sequences) in the crowd. It was a good mix of song and banter (professional "talking" and "lulls") and props to Bret handling the rhymes in "Mother-uckers" and Jemaine recovering from "I Told You I Was Freaky". Highlights were "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)", "Jenny" and "Foux de Fa Fa".

      Wish you would have mentioned comedian Arj Barker, who started off this leg of the tour that night (he played "Dave" on the show). He tackled topics like global warming, "trailgating" and pirates vs. attacking teacups.