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Concert Review: Flight of the Conchords at the El Rey, 7/11/07
After performing in a number small venues last year (Largo, Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre, etc .) the Flight of the Conchords made their triumphant return to Los Angeles this week during a sold-out show at the El Rey Theatre on July 11.
The growing popularity of the group was apparent in the weeks leading up to the gig, during which people on Craigslist were offering upwards of $300 for a pair of tickets. On the night of the concert, a line of fans in front of the theater proffered the same plea, and one creative gal even held a sign that said “Will dance the robot for spare ticket.” (She ended up with a front row seat.)
The show began around 8:30 p.m. with comedian Arj Barker (who plays “Dave” on the group’s HBO series) opening for the Conchords with a great set. Then the Conchords—Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie—took the stage. The duo began with some “level” adjusting, which they explained was technical band-speak for “volume.” The set featured a mix of newer material, such as “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” and “I’m Not Crying,” mixed with favorites such as “Jenny,” “The Humans Are Dead” and “Bowie.”
This show was at least twice as long as the LA shows they've played in the past, and the larger venue provided some good comedy fodder. At one point, they commented that it was probably hard for the people in the back of the theater to see their subtle reaction-related physical comedy, so they began exaggerating their every move, resulting in each of them nearly falling off their stools at various points.
One of my favorite parts of the show took place when Clement abandoned his usual deep monotone voice at the end of "Robots (The Humans Are Dead)" and replaced it with that of C-3PO's. After McKenzie's "binary solo" comprised solely of zeroes and ones, he followed suit and turned his spoken lines into R2-D2 bleeps.
Another moment that brought the house down occurred near the end of "Think About It, Think, Think About It" when the Conchords invited their Spanish-language counterparts, Patricio Castillo and Waldo Valenzuela, onto the stage (they provide the Conchords' voices in the Spanish broadcast of the HBO show). They had the two men sing the Spanish version of the song they'd just performed, and it was amazing how closely their voices matched the Conchords'. Then they ended the song with all four men singing the rapid-fire lyrics together, and it proved that lines like "Could somebody please remove these cutleries from my knees?" are comedic gold in any language.
Though the group doesn't have any additional LA gigs on their upcoming tour schedule, they have just moved to Southern California, so hopefully they'll be adding some more soon.
The Flight of the Conchords TV show airs every Sunday on HBO, and next month they are set to release their new EP, The Distant Future.
Photo of the Flight of the Conchords and their Spanish-language counterparts by Judy Hennessey.