Portlandia The Tour stopped by a parallel universe at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on January 20 to present the live version of this cult hit on IFC. Portlandia has just started its second season, continuing on with a wide variety of recurring characters and quirky tag phrases. Starring the new comedy team of Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein, the show provided fans with an up close and personal evening of bonding over this left-wing brand of bohemian skewering, which somehow never manages to cross over into pure malice. With the pair’s background in punk rock bands, there’s always music of all sorts. (Brownstein’s guitar shredding skills are featured in the ‘90s Riot Grrrl band Sleater-Kinney and currently in Wild Flag, while Armisen played drums in the Chicago band Trenchmouth and plays bass on this tour). The duo enlisted drummer Michael Benjamin Lerner and Rebecca Cole on keyboard to perform their original tunes, plus some sing-alongs, with guest appearances and videos of sketches from upcoming episodes.
It began with a filmed message from the Office of the Mayor of Portland, played by Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and The City). His fireside chat was met with cheers as he gamely told the crowd to enjoy themselves and to remember to clean up afterwards. Armisen took to the stage first to thank everyone, saying with genuine affection, “This is so, so nice”. Brownstein joined him to spoof text communication, with each of them reading each other’s missives for the day off of their phones. After some songs and clips, Beastie Boys’ Adam Horowitz appeared, only to be grilled about his favorite New York spots, which included where to get the best burger (Blarney Stone). Later on, Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers appeared for a few songs, and Horowitz returned for the finale, “Hanging Around”.