Garfunkel & Oates have played Sketchfest twice before. In 2011, they were part of Chris Hardwick’s (No Relation) Music Night as one of several acts performing. In 2012, they opened for the great Reggie Watts at Mezzanine. Tonight, however, we got to experience them play their own headlining set. It meant that every single person in the crowd was their just for G & O. And, considering this show sold out several weeks in advance, it only proved that the good folks of San Francisco were quite thirsty to see these wonderful woman play a full set.
We were greeted with a short opening set by Dragon Boy Suede, the hip hop alter ego of Who Charted? host Howard Michael Kremer. Despite embracing the look of his rapper-self, we primarily ended up experiencing stand up from him. His delivery is spot on- he has the stoner drawl that seems to mask his quick wit. He would occasionally drop a fake song title while shouting out his imaginary DJ (Skratch-atory Rape), and he was hysterical. The best (or worst) part of the set was when he noticed that a woman in the very front row was feeling awfully awkward throughout is set. So, for the second half of his set, he focused almost 100% on her. I thought her face was going to pop with how red she got! He closed the set up with a pair of actual rap songs he’s done as Dragon Boy Suede, and even managed to hypnotize Kulap Vilaysack onto the stage to dance with him!
After the shortest set change in the history of Rickshaw Stop (Less than 10 minutes!), Kate Micucci (Oates) and Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel) wasted no time. Micucci strapped in her ukulele and Lindhome strapped on her guitar, and they dove head first in the stage banter. There was no time for music when you have an incredibly entertaining story about peeing in the streets. (Which Lindhome did immediately before the show…) It was a wonderful and hysterical moment. Their banter seemed entirely improvised, and it always amazes me how well these two feed of each other. Then some guy yelled out to “play some music.” Causing the entire audience to gasp! It’s the group you will ever go see where the audience wants banter more than music. However, they did obey after teasing the heckler. We started with the most San Francisco song in their canon: “Weed Card.” Sure, it was a predictable opener, but it still killed with this capacity crowd.
The rest of the set ran in much the same light. There was some great banter, followed by stunning singing. The energy and synchronicity between these two is amazing, and getting to experience it in such a big crowd was, dare I say, a cathartic musical experience. They played a nice balance of old and new material, and even the songs that I’ve been listening to for years sounded fresh, new, and still funny in this setting. Micucci has the expressive face in music! If you were deaf, you would have laughed, and even understood the stories in each song just by watching her sing. Lindhome was the straight man to Micucci’s clown. Her dry wit hit the punchlines all the harder. This was especially hard hitting during “29/31,” a song that Lindhome screams in the entire time.
The greatness of Garfunkel & Oates is something that everyone needs to experience. People don’t respect the comedy song well enough, but they prove that you can be funny without sacrificing musical quality. They have a new record coming out later this year on their own record label. You will buy it. And then you will go see them next time when they sell out The Fillmore.