Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: both are permanently etched on my brain, and both played tiny NYC club shows last month.

"/> Too Much Fucking Perspective: Spinal Tap Meets Tim & Eric — The Airship
By James Rickman
Transient

Two things in common between Michael McKean, aka Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins, and David Liebe Hart, the guy with the creepy puppets on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: both are permanently etched on my brain, and both played tiny NYC club shows last month.

The similarities pretty much stop there. McKean, at a Mercury Lounge show attended by about forty people, was dressed just like my dad (that is, just like me, but "relaxed fit" instead of "skinny"): Converse, jeans, a T-shirt under an unbuttoned button-up. For most of the show, he stood next to the drums with his acoustic. Backup was provided by Less the Band, a five-piece whose members include the playwright and director Adam Rapp (he of the recent shows Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling and Stop the Virgens). Every few songs, McKean would wander downstage, talk a bit, and play a cover. Only once was a Tap request shouted from the house.

I was surprised that more devotees hadn’t shown up. For me, there was an urgency in seeing McKean up-close. I was about seven when Spinal Tap came out; Appetite for Destruction was just three years away, and my first garage band a couple years beyond that. The longer I play music, the more I admire David St. Hubbins’ befuddled, diva-prone devotion to rock n’ roll.

Spinal Tap might have “Big Bottom” (and it was a shame that McKean didn’t sing those immortal lines, “I met her on Monday / ‘Twas my lucky bun-day” at Mercury), but they do not have “Bills Are Like Diarrhea.” That, not to mention “Dick-Fighting for a Beautiful Woman” or “All My Friends Like Asian Girls,” is the work of David Liebe Hart. I’ve been hooked on Tim and Eric since it first appeared, in 2007, and Hart is something like the show’s oracle: crooning songs while gazing above the camera and working a small, nightmarish tribe of puppets.

At Bruar Falls last Tuesday, Hart stood behind two microphones, looking like a cabbie with his high pleated slacks, overloaded pockets and Bluetooth ear piece. He was backed by a tight, thrashy three-piece punk band; together with his slow vibrato, their sound was surprisingly close to Bad Brains. Between songs, Hart spoke of his Christian Scientist upbringing, the alien who cured him of watching porn, and LA’s tanking economy. The only one to cross the small, empty dancefloor was a guy with a large video camera.

In the end, both performers gave the people what they wanted, albeit in small doses. McKean and the band played “Listen to the Flower People,” and Hart ended his set with a duet assisted by a puppet named Black Boy. I don’t know what to make of the tiny crowds; I could have sworn movies and TV were more powerful than that. And while McKean probably wasn’t that bothered about the turnout, Hart clearly wanted to sell some merch and plug his shows. I hope he got some better crowds down the road. But I’m also glad I got to see him with a dozen other weirdos and randoms.

Salame, New York. There will be no encore.

Photo: [adult swim]