Live Review: David Liebe Hart at Meow, Wellington

David Liebe Hart Au NZ tour poster

David Liebe Hart and Th’ Mole

w/ Tender Moonlight, TV DiSKO & DJFK

Meow, Wellington

Monday 17 April 2017

Earlier today I was stumped. I had tried to explain my plans for tonight, and had no idea where to even start. How does one describe David Liebe Hart? Comedian? Singer? Puppeteer? Visionary genius?

I started with the obvious connection: Tim and Eric – the crazed duo who create absurd clips for the Adult Swim channel. Tim and Eric deal mostly with surreal clips that are deliberately poorly edited – often looking like old video tapes from the 90’s made by people on drugs (which, in all honesty, could actually be what they are). Their style of humour is awkward and shocking.

Liebe Hart was an obvious casting choice for the duo. Quirky, confident and outspoken on his beliefs in aliens. Most of the clips featured him singing about nonsense with grotesque puppets. And this odd comedy is exactly what I was hoping to see at the show.

Tender Moonlight at Meow opening for David Liebe Hart

Tender Moonlight

High energy opening act Tender Moonlight won my heart instantly. I felt like I was in the middle of a movie action montage as he played. He transported us back to the best of the ’80s, pumping drum machine beats and playing squealing guitar solos. He looked the part too, with a peroxide mop, sunglasses, pink lei around his neck, fingerless gloves and a leather jacket over his bare vest. On his legs he wore trackpants with knee pads (for powerslides?), which got ripped off half way through the set. His set was so sexed up that all the girls in attendance should probably go and buy pregnancy tests just in case.

Tender Moonlight at Meow opening for David Liebe Hart


David Liebe Hart

Technical issues delayed the start of the set. I guess that it isn’t easy to rig up the technology that they were using for the show. A projector shone images and videos onto a screen. Drum-shaped Donkey Kong video game controllers were plugged into a laptop for use as a trigger pad. Sound man Th’ Mole played a hybrid instrument of a keyboard and midi controller attached to the top of an acoustic guitar. And to clarify – that’s a computer keyboard for typing, not a musical piano-like keyboard. I’ll forgive them for not having all the gear set up correctly, seeing as it is such unconventional gear.

So Liebe Hart – always the crowd pleaser – came out to do some stand up comedy while we waited for the tech guys to work their wonders.

It set a weird tone. Tender Moonlight’s epic set had me in a good mood, and but this comedy routine had me questioning what I was in for. Sure, I was laughing, but what on earth is this insanity? Liebe Hart was full of confidence, rattling off jokes I didn’t understand and making the most outrageous impressions with weird voices. We were in for a unique night, that’s for sure!

David Liebe Hart with Alien singing Salame at Meow, Wellington
Liebre Hart went side of stage and hid once the issues had been resolved. We were treated to an immersive video introduction to the set. The plot loosely revolved around a long-secret alien war that had recently arisen, endangering the future of our planet. Cue David Liebe Hart – aspiring astronaut, alien abductee, and saviour of the Earth!

The next few hours were joyous. Despite being absurd, the music was fun to dance and sing along to. The cluster of the audience just in front of the stage were having the time of their lives. Poorly edited videos projected onto the screen at the back of the stage, visually ushering us into a trippy world of Liebe Hart.

David Liebe Hart at MEow, Wellington

He covered a range of topics – vegetables, vegemite, trains, aliens, romance, technology, ghosts, pornography and spirituality. I couldn’t tell how much was genuine and how much was a joke. Liebe Hart was passionate when discussing matters clearly close to his heart. He even sang a few worship songs, seeing as it was Easter Monday. The Christian Science Church he was a member of was clearly a big part of his life, so why include those songs in a set of comedy songs? Wouldn’t that undermine the sincerity?

But the more I thought about it, the less convinced I was that it was a joke. Liebe Hart appeared to believe in ghosts. He called on the audience to share details about any of their ghostly encounters – no Phony Tonys thank you! He talked a lot about his church, about past relationships. About living clean by avoiding negativity and eating well. The Tim and Eric style of video editing was clearly ironic for comedic purposes, but the actual content seemed sincere.

David Liebe Hart with a puppet singing at Meow Wellington

Well known for his ventriloquism, Liebe Hart made sure to incorporate his puppets into the show. Doug the Dog helped him sing about orange German Shephard ghosts. Chip the Black Boy sang about father/son relationships. A giraffe sang about “kiss[ing] her on the lips” and an alien introduced us to the Korendian [an alien race] concept of “Salame” – their term for greetings and farewells.

It was a genuinely fantastic night, much like the last time I saw a viral internet sensation play. The awkward humour could have been cringe, but the music was danceable, and Liebe Hart was such an entertaining character that all reservations were quickly dispelled.
David Liebe Hart with puppet singing Father and Son at Meow, Wellington

David Liebe Hart links:








All words and images by Joseph James except the tour poster.

Live Review: The Beards at Bodega, Wellington


The Beards

Bodega, Wellington

Friday 15 April 2016

The Beards are a novelty rock act from Adelaide who sing about facial hair. They are both funny and musically interesting, making them comparable to other bands like Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords. One difference though, is that The Beards only have one joke, and that joke is that every song is about beards. Only beards. Beards, beards, beards. Somehow they’ve managed to stretch that joke across four albums and 11 years of playing together as a band.

You’ll think that they’re either idiots or geniuses, depending upon your stance on beards. They sure are dedicated to their theme, but the joke could get tired quickly if you’re not into it. I think they do brilliantly to keep the same joke fresh and varied, and there is no denying that they play well and put on an entertaining show.

For their first set they treated us to a “classy” semi-acoustic performance, dressed in formal wear and perched on stools at the front of the stage. It wasn’t full throttle, but this didn’t stop the crowd singing along at full volume. The highlight of this set was “The Beard Accessory Store”, partly because of its rousing nature, and partly because the lyrics were so repetitive that anyone who wasn’t familiar with the band was able to join in the singalong after a few lines. Another treat was a cover of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man”, because obviously if The Beards were to cover any other band, it’d have to be ZZ Top – the band with the two best beards in rock, and to top that: a drummer named Frank Beard.

The second set was more energetic, with the full rock band set up. They may be a comedy act, but the members of the band can still play well. There were vocal harmonies and guitar solos aplenty. Some less conventional instruments like keytar and kazoo made appearances, and even saxophone got added to the mix fairly often.

I saw The Beards play at Bodega last time they played in Wellington, and had wondered if it was just going to be a repeat of last time. Thankfully, the banter between sets seemed spontaneous, unlike last time, which was funny, but clearly rehearsed. They introduced a new segment called “Beard Facts”, complete with a jingle that the band had composed during sound check that day. The band immersed themselves in their onstage personas, using the pseudonyms Johann Beardraven, John Beardman Jr, Nathaniel Beard, Facey McStubblington. They encouraged the audience to stroke their beards, and even invited especially hairy member onstage to be presented with a prize of signed posters of the band (in various stage of undress).

Most of the crowd were in on the joke. I guess anyone who didn’t get it would have left fairly quickly. There were many burly men with fine facial foliage, and some of the girls in attendance had crafted fake beards out of wool, so kudos to them for effort. One man with long dreadlocks had tied them across his face to feign a beard, and a few guys sported some costume style fake beards.

Disappointingly, both the merch guy and the stage hand were clean-shaven. But the band explained themselves: “We couldn’t have bearded men serving us! That wouldn’t be right! But it’s fine to have someone who shaves doing the manual labour!” Members of the crowd kept buying rounds of tequila for the band. When that got to much for them, they gave a shot to their roadie, before promptly “firing” him for drinking on the job.

The Beards are a polarising band. You’ll either think that they are incredibly lame, or incredibly good. I side with the latter opinion. Rousing rock songs, sensational solos, brilliant banter and a funny material all combine to make one hell of an entertaining night. It’s amazing that the band managed to last 11 years when so few people took them serious, and I applaud them for ending on such a high.

Throw away your razor and make sure to go and see The Beards play on their final tour if you get a chance.


Set list from the second set

Joseph James

Film Review: Deathgasm



One of the more prominent scenes in Deathgasm involves a fight scene between the protagonists and a couple who are possessed by demons. Loud metal music (Beastwars and 8 Foot Sativa) plays in the background and our heroes need to resort to using sex toys as weapons to defend themselves against their attackers.

This is probably enough information for you to decide whether Deathgasm will suit your taste or not.

The film begins with lead character Brodie moving to a small backwater town to after his mum was institutionalised due to a wild meth-fueled bender. His relatives don’t approve of his bogan music tastes, and he and his friends are ruthlessly picked on by his cousin, the school bully.

After a run in with an infamous long-lost frontman of a metal band he adores, Brodie acquires sheet music that summons a demon when it is played – think the musical equivalent of Evil Dead’s Book of the Dead. And of course, once this happens Brodie and his bogan buddies need to figure out a way to fight what they’ve unleashed.

Black Sabbath, the original metal pioneers, invented their new sound after inspiration from watching horror movies, so it’s only natural that the horror and metal genres marry so perfectly. And New Zealand is such a bogan nation that it’s impossible not to relate to the humour of it all. Tenacious D’s The Pick of Destiny, or the Bill and Ted movies are similar in some ways, but Deathgasm manages to do funny without being as lame. Ridiculous, sure, but not desperate.

It’s the realism that is key here. Lei Howden admits that most of the characters – awkward, violent, heavy metal loving youths – are based on himself in some way or another. They’re crass, but they’re also believable.

Mind you, this is only the characters. The guy who loves his Holden more than his friends is believable. The nerds who play role-playing games during lunch are believable. They’re funny, too. But it’s the insanely unbelievable splatter and gore that pushes the humour to the next level, like in Peter Jackson’s early films Braindead and Bad Taste.

Blood and guts and chainsaws and axes all feature by the bucketful. Lei Howden’s background is in visual effects so expect plenty of gratuitous fluids onscreen. The combination of horror and comedy can be pretty risky, but producer Ant Timpson was at the helm, and the end result works brilliantly, like other films he’s worked on such as Housebound and another current NZIFF film Turbo Kid.

Your mum will probably hate this film. But then again, she probably hates heavy metal too. And isn’t that half the point of listening to it?

Deathgasm is an extremely inappropriate assault on the senses. But if you enjoy over-the-top horror films and identify as a metal head then I doubt you’ll mind.


Joseph James