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Our Last Show in New York


A night with Flight of the Conchords.


It’s been a reasonably quiet week; I spent last weekend recovering from having that wisdom tooth out, Monday was a public holiday so, besides seeing a crazy guy trying to steal an ice-cream truck while the man was still selling ice-creams in the back, nothing much has really happened.

I guess I should explain the ice-cream truck bit first. I was leaving work last Tuesday and I was waiting to cross 6th Avenue at 36th Street. Also waiting to cross the road was a really dirty bald guy with shredded shorts and he had a bunch of scratched lottery tickets in his hand. The bald guy was screaming at someone to his left, but he was in front of me and there was a giant truck parked to my left, so I couldn’t see who he was screaming at. “I’m poor, mother___er, but you just wait until I’ve got money! I’ll f___kin’ kick your ass, mother___er!”
When we finally got to cross the road it became apparent that he wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, just screaming at someone to his left that didn’t actually exist. On the other side of the road is a van that sells hot dogs and pretzels and Tuesday was about 30 °C (86°F) so there was an ice-cream truck in front of the hot dog van and a man was in the back of the truck selling ice-creams. The crazy bald guy very discretely walked up to the cabin of the truck, got in and started the engine, just before the owner in the back got out and started screaming at him. I’m not sure what happened after that, I probably should’ve stuck around, but I was kind of sleepy.

Now, onto the point of this post; We only have about six weeks left of our 12 month stay in the USA. In that time I’ve been to see:

  • Ween
  • The Gene Ween Group
  • Faith No More
  • Refused
  • Iggy Pop
  • Melvins
  • Melt Banana
  • Rancid
  • KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Napalm Death
  • Primus (on our last night in Germany)

Been in the audience of:

  • Noel Fielding
  • The Book of Mormon
  • American Psycho: The Musical
  • Penn & Teller
  • The Humans
  • Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
  • Bayside: The Musical
  • The Rockettes
  • A bunch of stand-up comedy shows, one of which had a guest appearance by Tracy Morgan

Went to watch:

  • Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets
  • Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
  • Seton Hall vs. Villanova (NCAA Big East championship game)
  • Fightball 03
  • Brooklyn Cyclones vs. Staten Island Yankees (Class A – Short Season baseball)

And been to tapings of:

  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Maury
IMG_9241

How does Anna manage to get these things?!?

There might have been a couple of others, but these are the ones I have written about or, if not, Anna and I can recall off the tops of our heads.
In a little over a week we’ll be heading to South America for about two-and-a-half weeks, leaving us about another two weeks when we return to organise our move back to Singapore, meaning that there isn’t a whole lot of time to go see much more, but while I was sitting at home, recovering from the dentist, Anna came home and said, “I’ve got something that’ll make you feel better… I got us tickets to see Flight of the Conchords!”
Somehow, Anna manages to pull strings to get us in to almost anything (Front-row tickets to The Book of Mormon, anyone?) and on this occasion she had received this advertisement (right) in an email and got tickets to the Friday night show.

That instantly made my day and anyone who knows who they are would instantly understand why. For those who don’t, Wikipedia is here to help, as per usual:

Flight of the Conchords is a New Zealand-based comedy band composed of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. The duo’s comedy and music became the basis of a BBC radio series and then an American television series that aired for two seasons on HBO. They used to refer to themselves as “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, but now speak of themselves as “the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand.”
The duo’s live performances have gained them a worldwide cult following.

I’m definitely a part of that cult, but I haven’t seen them live before. My cult membership came via their TV series:

Flight of the Conchords is an American television comedy series that was first shown on HBO on June 17, 2007. The show follows the adventures of Flight of the Conchords, a two-man band from New Zealand, as its members seek fame and success in New York City. The show stars the real-life duo of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, who play fictionalized versions of themselves.

And what made that show so brilliant? Well, you could say the humour in general, but especially the soundtrack. Songs such as “I’m Not Crying“:

These Flight of the Conchords concerts were going to be great shows, but there were two minor issues:

  1. Doors opened at 11:30pm.
  2. The venue is essentially one of the most pretentious bars in an awful part of town, but more on that later.

Anna’s colleague’s wife takes flamenco lessons and was also going to be performing that night so the plan was to go to that first, then head to Flight of the Conchords.

Friday, June 1
I met Anna and a few of her colleagues near their work at about 6:00pm and then we caught the train to Queens. Doors were to open at 7:00pm, but the performance wasn’t to start until 8:00pm, giving us about an hour-and-a-half to kill, so we went to a pub for a bit.
The performance was in a reasonably small Latino hall. We only found this out because, despite the fact that it had the Spanish flag above the stage, we were with Rosa Dolz-Marco, Anna’s colleague from Valencia, and she informed us that it wasn’t really a traditionally Spanish affair, some of the dialog was hard for her to understand and she was actually a little unsure about some of the things happening there, too. Anyhow, we pulled up a table and ordered a whole bunch of tapas while we watched. It was about a 90 minute performance, but somehow Chandra, husband of the performer, felt the need to take a nap. I didn’t want to be a distraction, so I only took a picture as they were getting ready and one of Chandra nodding off:

The performance ended and then it was time to make our way back to Chelsea for Flight of the Conchords.

I mentioned earlier that I can’t stand the venue that was hosting the show and I’ll give you the lowdown. The McKittrick hotel is one of the most pretentious places I have ever been, the type venue that acts like it is a privilege being there, thus giving them the right to be assholes. We went there when Anna wanted to go to Sleep no More and I hated it then.
To enter and exit the place, you need to get in an elevator that they will only ever half-fill, take it to the sixth floor, because, for some unknown reason, they don’t let you use the stairs. In fact, they just tell you they don’t even have stairs! We all know that must be B.S. as that is obviously illegal. I wonder if they would tell you the same thing in a fire…
Once inside you need to tread carefully and try not to be berated by the security. Remember, being there should be seen as an honour, in their opinion. There was a band playing at the rooftop bar so we thought we would take a look. “Sorry, I can’t let you do that.” Okay, let’s pull up a seat over there. “Sorry, you can’t be in that area.” Alright, I guess I’ll just buy one of their overpriced beers served by a hipster in suspenders who thinks he has a career ahead of him as a cocktail maker.

Oh, and let’s not ignore this:

According to the fictitious description on its official website, the hotel was completed in 1939 and “intended to be New York City’s finest and most decadent luxury hotel.” The site goes on to explain that “six weeks before opening, and two days after the outbreak of World War II, the legendary hotel was condemned and left locked, permanently sealed from the public” until it was restored and reinvented by Punchdrunk and Emursive.
The McKittrick Hotel is actually three adjoining warehouses in Chelsea’s gallery district at 530 West 27th Street. The address is the former home of megaclubs Twilo, Spirit, Guesthouse, Home, Bed and more.

Yup, the hotel’s history is about as real as the welcome you feel, but we weren’t there for the hospitality. We were there for…

flight-of-the-conchords2Flight of the Conchords!

Brett and Jermaine took the stage at about 12:30am and had a slot of an hour and 15 minutes. These shows were little intimate gigs, on this occasion there were probably no more than 200 people, and they were performing a lot of new material in front of an audience for the first time in preparation for their upcoming tour, as well as a couple of old songs. For this reason, we weren’t allowed to film or take any photos of the performance.

Setlist:

  1. Chips and Dips
  2. The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)
  3. The Seagull
  4. F**k on the Ceiling
  5. The Ballad of Stana
  6. Father and Son
  7. Think About It
  8. Business Time
  9. Shady Rachel

Encore:

  1. Foux du Fafa
  2. Bowie
IMG_9240

Not a bad spot to watch from…

They might’ve told us we couldn’t film or take pictures, but it was only implied that we couldn’t do audio recordings, so I recorded it very discretely with my phone sticking out of my pocket. The sound quality isn’t the best, it’s a little quiet, but it’s the entire show so it’s definitely worth a listen, even if you can hear Anna cackling through it:

It was a fantastic show, the new songs are as good as anything they’ve ever played, but the upcoming tour begins three days after we return to Singapore. You just don’t realise how talented they both are as musicians when you’re just watching the TV show and, also, a lot of the songs were played as a three-piece, with a guy, “The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra,” on either double bass or cello.

After the show, groups of six were allowed in the elevator to go home, while everyone else stood around, frustratedly waiting for the lift to do its five-minute round trip that would make many people’s night more than an hour longer than it needed to be. We caught a Lyft with two insanely drunk young Korean girls that were leaving a nearby club and one of them started vomiting out of the window en route to us getting dropped off, but it was worth it.

Flight of the Conchords are brilliant.

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About Dr. Tan's Travels (102 Articles)
My name's Tim. I'm a freelance writer and former ESL teacher from Melbourne, Australia, who taught in Daejeon, Korea for six months in 2007 and, until February 2015, had taught in Singapore for seven years. My wife, Anna, is an ophthalmologist. Between March 2015 and July 2016 we spent a month in Pondicherry, India, three months in Bonn, Germany, and 12 months in New York before returning to Singapore, all for training and work placements for her. The reason I wanted to keep this blog is because I suffer from epilepsy and have a terrible memory, therefore this would be a great way to help me remember our travels. I will do my best to keep it updated and even continue writing now that we're back in Singapore, but there is one problem; I have a pretty severe phobia of anything medical.

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