Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen brought Portlandia: The Tour to a sold out crowd at Durham's Carolina Theatre Wednesday night.
The duo shared scenes from the second season of Portlandia and played songs from and inspired by the show, but the bulk of the evening centered on audience participation.
Durham resident and Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle joined Brownstein and Armisen on stage early on to help answer questions about the city, which pretty much turned into a free-for-all. There were opinions aplenty on the subject of best local coffee shop, local bars, and where to find a good biscuit (prompting Brownstein asked if a biscuit was the same as a scone). Bike Coffee (which is exactly what it sounds like) seemed to truly amaze Armisen, so if the concept of a micro food truck appears on a future episode of Portlandia or Saturday Night Live, you'll know why!
The one category with no competition was when Brownstein asked who was the best record label in town. With the exception of Armisen, all of the performers on stage Wednesday night are Merge Records artists — Brownstein and Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag, Michael Lerner of Telekinesis, and Eleanor Friedberger.
Between songs and video clips, the pair shared personal photos from their childhood, and Armisen's father, a Durham resident, even came on stage. They also engaged in a lengthy Q&A session where Durham showed a bit of its creepy stalker side. Two of the first questions asked of Brownstein were the name of the Washington town where she grew up and where in Portland does she currently live.
The evening was capped off with music by Eleanor Friedberger with Armisen, Brownstein, Lerner and Cole as her backing band. While they sounded great, that particular portion of the show was a little disjointed and almost seemed slapped on for the sake of extending the time.
There's no doubt that Armisen and Brownstein make a great team, and their work together with Portlandia certainly strikes a chord with the gen X and Y crowd. Season two of their show is wrapping up this Friday on IFC, but fans can rest easy that the duo said their goal is to make season three awesome.