This past weekend I saw two duos perform. One was Tim and Eric of Tim and Eric Awesome Show and the other was Mecca Normal.
A friend introduced me to Tim and Eric's work a few months ago. Their show is on Adult Swim though I've only seen their videos online. They just finished up a sold out tour of the US. Not sold out in the sense that you can get in line the night of the show and still get a ticket, but sold out weeks in advance. Sold out to the point where there are scalpers and people offering a lot of money for extra tickets. When I showed up at the Baghdad Theatre in Portland to meet my friend, he was waiting in a line three blocks long. The guy behind us spotted Tim looking out a backstage window and said, in all seriousness, "Look, there's Tim. Wow, I just saw a real life rock star." (The term "rock star" now applies to chefs, clothing designers, interactive media whiz kids; and probably also to hair dressers, dogs, Judd Apatow, and presidential candidates. I think it's actually more difficult to find someone who isn't a "rock star." For some reason I wish the same thing would happen to the word "hippie.")
Watch two videos from Tim and Eric:
As a live performance, Tim and Eric Awesome Show is one of the more exciting events I have been to in a long time. It's a mixture of stadium rock, performance art, Vaudeville, Beckett, and social commentary. They dissect life into thin sheets and then extract the absurdity from the minutiae. The microscopic lens with which they view the world makes for painful, awkward, and sometimes ridiculous comedy, but in its strangeness are also the truths that make it funny. Each moment of the show is carefully constructed, from the characters entrances and gaits, to the music accompanying the movements. The overall effect is a surreal and frenzied spectacle.
Watch two more Tim and Eric Awesome Show videos:
In a completely different setting—this time in the woods of Battle Ground, WA—I saw an intimate performance by Mecca Normal. Though the Vancouver BC musical duo is known for their art rock and politics, they too mix frivolity with commentary and blend discomfort with ease. Many of the songs they performed on that sunny afternoon dealt with Jean Smith's foray into on-line dating. The lyrics drew laughter from the crowd, they were brilliant poems dealing with her misadventures in love (a Rottweiler that insisted on sleeping on the bed, a bedroom door that had to be held shut with a large piece of coral), but the acute observations had dark undertones, an underlying sadness, hints of disconnect and disaster. David Lester is an illusionist on guitar, melodies and guitar lines reveal themselves unexpectedly; they flutter about and then recede. His body seems as much a source for the music as the instrument itself, moving and swaying. The combination of the two performers has always been electrifying, not always easy, but never false.
Watch a video for the Mecca Normal song "Naked And Ticklish". It is one of the online dating songs.
All right, that's all the duo love I have for today. Feel free to comment on your favorite duo or duo moments.