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Flight of the Conchords A Memorable Show In St Augustine

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Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement play Sunday night at the St Augustine Amphitheatre. photo: 2016

A spot on HBO is what introduced Flight of the Conchords  to the USA. After a gig at the Aspen Comedy Festival, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement were invited to create for HBO. The two created an HBO television series titled “Flight of the Conchords”, which premiered in the U S in 2007. The series aired for two seasons, giving the two a sort of, cult following.

This duo, from New Zealand, were in St Augustine Sunday night, playing their musical comedy to a sold out crowd. Tattoos, colorful hair, beards and black were a staple of the hipster audience.

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Sabrina, Jen, Oliver and Jack traveled from Jacksonville to enjoy the show. photo: 2016

A group from Jacksonville traveled down to enjoy the show. Sabrina, Jen, Oliver and Jack were fans of the hit HBO TV show. “We are so excited they (Flight of the Conchords ) are here,” exclaimed Sabrina as the group tailgated in the parking lot before the show. “It’s just a bonus when we heard that “Dave” is the opener!”

“We can’t wait to hear the new material,” Oliver said as he shared all he knew about the band. “These guys are hilarious!”

Comedian Arj Barker, who appears as the friend “Dave” on the HBO show, opened the show with some right-on-point comedy. Barker was relaxed and real. He spoke about the challenges of being gluten free, (something he is trying with his NEW girlfriend) and how everything we eat is made with gluten: cereal, pasta, bread, cakes. Everything except apples! Not to worry “I can still eat apple pie…with no crust!”

Barker is a self proclaimed environmentalist. He shared about his cool trip down Coastal Highway in his Winnebago, with the windows rolled down and the air conditioner blasting. His bit about Alzheimer had Barker letting the audience know that Alzheimer runs in his family. “Don’t tell me if I have it…I want to be the last to know,” screamed Barker as the audience went into hysterics. Needless to say, Barker was hilarious and a welcome addition to the line up.

Although the temperature was in the 80’s, the crowd seemed to enjoy every hot minute of the evening!

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Comedian Arj Barker was on hand to open the show. photo: 2016

On stage, Clement spoke to the crowd, “It is really hot. We would pay for this is New Zealand,” he joked. “But we would be advised to spend only 15 minutes!”

Comedy has taken a step forward with these two talented musicians. Back and forth between piano, guitar and hand drum, the two sang and answered each other, at times with the language of a New Zealand sailor. Joining the two on stage was Nigel Collins on cello and stand up bass. “The Ballad of Stana” was a whistling Western about Satan and his unmentionable travels. The song had the crowd breaking down after every stanza. Their song “The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)”, had the audience singing and swaying along to every sarcastic word.

As the two spoke about the reasons why men grow up into villains,  a political lick in reference to tiny this and that“…..and tiny hands too,” was thrown in, causing the crowd to get on their feet and hoot  and holler.

Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are amazing musical-story tellers. It is no surprise they were awarded an Emmy for “Best Comedy Album” in 2008 as well as “Best Album”, “Best Group” and “The International Achievement Award” from the New Zealand Music Awards.

The two have been performing since college, way back in the late 1990’s, and it shows. Their timing is impeccable and their improv is spot on. “We have been getting older,” McKenzie said to the crowd as he spoke of what happens when you use Google. “It reminds you of your own mortality,” Clement piped in, “We apologize!”

With a smokey night club atmosphere, the stage lights were changed with the direction to “make it more jazzy.” The big screens were now just black and white and “Shady Rachel” began with a tickling of the ivories. With deeper “jazzy” voices answering back and forth, the story was told with a back and forth pretentious communication. The surprising Louie Armstrong scat which Clement performed, punctuated the end of the song with class and glamor.

In memory of past musicians who left this world, yet have made a direct impact on the path of modern music, Prince’s “Purple Rain” was played with honor and respect. Bringing the audience to their feet, their voices sang along loudly and in unison for the legendary-purple rain, purple rain…..The David Bowie parody “Bowie In Space” was spacey and right on point. The boys answered each other with English accents, sounding just like David Bowie on a variety of his far-out albums. “This is Bowie to Bowie,” sang the two as they answered back and forth. Star lights floated across the amphitheater tent and the wail of the music took everyone back into the future.

True fans, the audience stayed in their seats until the very end of the show. An encore performance of “Hiphopopotamus vs Rhymenoceros” brought comedian Barker back on stage to play piano with the trio. The song “Robots” had fans dancing, robot style in the isle.

With many Flight of the Conchords enthusiasts waiting for another album, another series or a movie, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are not at a loss for loyal fans. As they continue to travel around the states on their latest tour, McKenzie and Clement might just be focusing on their next endeavor. There is no way to hold the talent of these two at bay…and many admirers are waiting patiently to see what is next on the Flight of the Conchords’ agenda.