Hard 'n Phirm

Horses and Grasses

Chris Hardwick and Mike Phirman constitute this L.A.-based, Tenacious D.-like duo, and Horses and Grasses is a heapin' helpin' of super-geeky and utterly engaging musical comedy. The difference between Jack Black's gruesome metal twosome and this one is mostly genre -- HNP prefers to skewer the absurdities inherent in soft rock ballads, cheesy Latin pop and patriotic mainstream country. And Radiohead. They reconfigured a few Radiohead songs into a bluegrass medley called "Rodeohead," and it actually works on its own, but, as they note, your enjoyment is maximized the more you know about Radiohead.

They're also deep into science-rock: "The Carbon Cycle" is both amusing and educational, while "p" is probably the first rap paean to 3.14159. And you can easily imagine many a Rice grad student rapping along with verses like "I did three chicks then I pointed out the door / One girl entered in so that made it four / I snapped one time, in came another five / add them all up and that makes nine / their average age 26.5 / now that's what I call getting some p."

Elsewhere, HNP unfurls a jingoistic Lee Greenwood-style ballad thanking American dinosaurs for dying here and having the patriotic decency to change into oil ("Glide on mighty pterodactyl / on wings of American pride / Step up to serve your country / hundreds of years after you died"), a just plain wrong ballad called "She Named the Pony Jesus" and, last but not least, the James Brown parody "Funkhauser."

Man, what to say about "Funkhauser." The bandleader starts out in typical early-'70s James Brown fashion -- he exhorts his band to start clapping, give him a slinky bass groove, "a lil guit-tah!" "bring me the horns, slow and low, hunh!" etc…From there, the faux Godfather's demands grow ever stranger until he's ordering his band to blow on duck calls and bang on skillets with eggbeaters. And yet he's still unhappy, he still wants more, things aren't quite funkalicious enough up in that biatch. "Let's see, what else what we got in here," he says. "Yo, Robert! Take a Skil saw and make me a table…a funky table!" And then he's off: He tells Trombone Willie to "open that patio door and take a dead rat and throw it against a bus," another guy to toss a vainly protesting robot into a vat of boiling pudding and a third to "generate me a forcefield with a Compaq Presario and a microwave oven!"

All that and plenty of poop and fart jokes, too. How can you resist?

 
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