Last night, the worlds of the Omegans and the Koridians collided explosively in Denton and only one man could keep these furious foes from a battle that would destroy all of mankind. That man, of course, was performance artist and Adult Swim celebrity David Liebe Hart.
Hart, who is best known as the alien-obsessed ventriloquist from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, brought his bizarre act to Dan's Silverleaf. The prior night, he performed at RBC in Dallas.
Local indie rock group, Fishboy, kicked off the evening... Sort of. According to the singer, Eric Edward, the rest of the band had to pull out at the last minute. Edward decided to hit the stage solo, but he played tracks off the band's latest album, An Elephant. His performance had an anti-Dashboard Confessional feel to it. It was all driving, slightly sloppy, acoustic music but very little of it had anything to do with girls. He mostly made self-deprecating jokes about his artistic ambition, his awkwardness and that time he played professional baseball in the '80s.
Being a fan of anti-humor, I thought his act was an act within an act. At times, he had equipment malfunctions and other times, he had to stop songs entirely to fix his tempo. Comedians like Hart, Tim Heidecker and Neil Hamburger make these skillful stumbles on purpose. I figured Fishboy – the singer/songwriter with the invisible band – was the same kind of gag. After the show, Edward informed me that it was not a joke, but a rough night with a very forgiving audience. Either way, his music was genuinely entertaining and he took the difficulties in stride.
Trying to nail down an effective label for Hart is a near-impossible task. Is he a performance artist? A singer? Comedian? Ventriloquist? People who are unfamiliar with what he does might be extremely turned off by his style. His music is somewhere on the spectrum between insanity and children's hymns.
As Hart performs, crazy graphics and animations play on a large screen behind him – often featuring his swirling head or some of his puppets like Chip and Jason the Cat. During the show, he had to take a couple of breaks as he was also busy trying to build an intergalactic confederation to bring peace to our galaxy. Unfortunately, a super race of aliens is threatening to destroy all humans, Korindians and Omegans alike. Luckily for us in the audience, we got to see it play out on the screen.
Hart got his start doing stand-up comedy as far back as the '70s. He even cut his teeth in clubs with Robin Williams, but his current act is not a traditional comedy show by any stretch of the imagination.
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What is really amazing about Hart's show is that so many people get it. He may not be booking the largest venues in town, but he sure is bringing in engaged audiences that fill up small clubs. Even though he couldn't play more familiar tunes like “Father and Son” and “Salame” due to contract restrictions with Adult Swim, that didn't stop the audience from singing along with revamped versions like “Dad and Lad,” and “Go into the Light Until Next we Meet.”
As awkward as it may be for an outsider to walk into a David Liebe Hart show, the audience at Dan's was feeling it on more than just a humorous level. Where else are you going to see people shaking their hips to, not one, but two songs about railroads?
Austin usually gets labeled as the weirdest city in Texas, but last night in Denton, we definitely had the crown.
David Liebe Hart's newest album, Funny Jokes and Stories, can be found on his website artbydavidliebehart.com, along with his workout video and the Junior Christian Teaching Bible Lesson Program.