Pages Navigation Menu

Live Free or Die

Tenacious D

“What are we doing?” Jack Black yelled at the top of his lungs. “I don’t know. Maybe the GREATEST SONG IN THE WORLD?!”The crowd roared. Caught up in the moment, I joined the yells with my own.

Black and his partner, Kyle Gass, began strumming on their guitars. After a few seconds of a light acoustic ballad, they broke into a frenetic musical attack, their song both fierce and elegant at the same time.

The asshole one row back and three seats continued his screaming. In truth, the concert had been going for almost 45 minutes and he hadn’t paused to enjoy the music, let alone breathe. His torn T-shirt with obnoxious 80s phrases hand-written on it attested to his sanity.

Meanwhile, the group of four middle-aged folk in front of me looked at each other for reassurance that they were at the right concert. They held hands tightly, hoping above hope that someone with three-inch thick sideburns wouldn’t offer them some weed.

I stood in the middle of this nonsense. A study of contrasts on all sides. Idiocy abounding in all its many forms. I had come not to foam at the mouth or primp my ponytail and Polo shirt, but to enjoy some truly twisted music.

I had come to focus on Tenacious D.

Tenacious D is a band like no other. They’re like Weird Al Yankovic on crack, adding heft and seriousness to death and hot sauce alike. There is nothing like it, and that made the concert a singular event for me.

· · · · ·

I’m not one to attach myself to hip music, let alone bands that are about to hit the cutting edge. My music collection features Damn Yankees, Poison and Ugly Kid Joe. After it was no longer fashionable to wear flannels, I clutched to them the way an animé freak hoards his DragonBall Z tapes.

Once, when discussing Def Leppard with a friend, I emphatically stated that I’d never seen a single one, that I hadn’t been even remotely interested in the band until 1994. It was like admitting with pride that I’d beaten a blind man for the loose change in his cup. Sure, it widens people’s eyes, but it also has the effect of making them stare harder at you in disbelief.

Tenacious D, therefore, is unlike any musical act I’ve been into before — they aren’t already hopelessly outdated by seven years. They’re also actors; you may have seen KG as a fat bastard on “Undeclared,” Black is even more recognizable as Slip in “The Neverending Story II.”

Oh, yeah, and “Shallow Hal.”

Surprisingly, the D don’t piss me off like other ‘hyphenates’ — jackass actors who feel the need to branch out into other art forms, as if failing in one isn’t enough. Maybe it’s because unlike celebs Kevin Spacey, Keanu Reeves, Russell Crowe and Eddie Murphy, the D don’t come off as self-absorbed assholes. They come off as stoned losers, which is exactly what they are.

Russell Crowe’s greatest accomplishment in life is banging that anorexic no-talent Meg Ryan. Tenacious D got Bigfoot on stage and had him squirt gallon after gallon of thick cum from a massive dildo onto Osama bin Laden.

· · · · ·

The concert at the Wiltern in Los Angeles was interesting, to say the least. The crowd was an eclectic mix of people too cool for school and Birkenstock-wearing college-aged stoners still mourning the death of Phish. People aching for afros to be trendy again so they wouldn’t look too foolish. Banana Republic assholes.

The Wiltern itself is an interesting location. Built in 1929, it is an official art deco monument, something I and my girlfriend talked about throughout the evening. Who knew art deco was anything but reviled? And yet here was a theater basking in retro chic. If you can get over the mottled earth tones and bizarre architectural “innovations” inside, you might also be able to stifle the laughter when you notice that it’s attached to a Denny’s.

My girlfriend had gotten the tickets to the concert through her connections at MTV because she thought I liked Tenacious D. Actually, until the show itself, I’d never heard of the D except for the song “Fuck Her Gently,” which had been turned into a hilarious Flash animation. A friend had also told me they’d had an HBO series, but I’d never seen it.

Basically, I knew nothing and my expectations were high.

So we get to the concert and sit down. After the seats fill in and Natasha Lyonne (the plain chick from American Pie) sits in front of us, the opening acts comes out on stage; two guys named Naked Trucker and T-Bone. True to form, Naked Trucker is naked, hiding his hillbilly cock behind his guitar and his bald head under one of those hats with a fake mullet sown into the back. T-Bone’s a drunken ass with truly hideous teeth. Teeth of trailer trash bred with a Brit. I had to grimace.

And they rocked. They played a solid set, never venturing too far from a bottle of Boone’s or a harmonica. “Hillbilly hip-hop will never die,” Naked Trucker shouted before playing Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.” Watching a skinny, naked, out-of-shape white man sing a rap song about getting play and smoking weed is simultaneously disgusting and fascinating.

Before the D came on stage, we had fifteen minutes to take a piss and listen to fossils in front of us talk about their portfolios and home refinancing. Then the lights went off and the crowd stood, frenzied yells almost overpowering the rising smell of pot in the auditorium.

Kyle Gass and Jack Black strode on stage dressed as monks. Then, with a flourish, the robes were thrown to the floor, leaving only two fat, sweaty men dressed in a T-Shirt and jeans.

If Naked Cowboy didn’t make you wish you were blind, this would.

· · · · ·

Having heard only “Fuck Her Gently,” I stood and watched as the D started off their set with… Queen?

Now, Queen is an embarrassment of rock, no doubt. Freddie Mercury’s mustache is the biggest travesty in music in the past 50 years. It eclipses all, like a powerful wave of tackiness that robs people of speech and sexual prowess. It is a calling card of homosexuality, daring all men who look into its bushy blackness to reject the supple touch of a woman and embrace hairless men coated in scented oils.

The crowed cared not. Queen was played, and loved. Before long, the big single “Wonderboy” began, but since I had no clue what was what, I fed into the atmosphere of insanity and screamed, especially when the yak was mentioned (as many know, the yak is the most graceful and holy of God’s creatures).

From there, the concert turned into a haphazard collection of acoustic monster ballads, unfinished songs and a number of Beatles tributes. “Blackbird,” arguably my favorite Beatles piece, was transformed musically into a song about hot sauce. A medley of “Abbey Road” material was played at the finale.

They even played a little Dio. The glam rock fiend in me screamed aloud in triumph.

Sandwiched between the covers were some genuinely funny skits. Bigfoot sodomizes Osama bin Laden. Bigfoot chases Spiderman. Jack swallows load after load of Kyle’s baby batter in a filmed sketch that’s as disturbing as it is hilarious. Kyle even commits suicide when Jack becomes the lead in the rock opera “Tommy.”

“Fuck Her Gently’s” performance was as beautiful as it was touching.

The D far exceeded my expectations. Musically, the two are astounding. It’s difficult to come off as hard-rocking with two acoustic guitars and nothing else, but KG’s determined guitar work and JB’s guttural, moody vocals make the music rock as well as humorous.

After the concert, I read some lackluster reviews. The Los Angeles Times chastised them for not making the bin Laden sketch more meaningful. Variety stated that they weren’t taking enough advantage of Black’s notoriety.

Hey, mendicants. Look at these two. They’re the epitome of loser and they love it. They cling to the term the way bad taste clings to that abominable mustache of Freddie Mercury’s. What do you expect from a concert like this? You think George Will is going to walk out on stage and deliver a dissertation on global politics? Tenacious D makes Osama bin Laden eat Bigfoot’s cock. Meaningful my ass.

Some people say that Tenacious D is toning it down, that they aren’t mocking Satanism enough any more, or that they don’t toot their own horn enough. What the fuck? Did we go to the same concert? These two are more self-absorbed than a three-pack of Bounty! And who cares if they’re already past their prime? Not only is that more in line with my acceptance of a band, it’s fascinating to watch a band decline while still thinking they’re the shit.

The D rocks. I haven’t enjoyed myself that much at a concert in a long time. I even bought a lighter to commemorate the occasion. Granted, I have no idea how to fill the fucking thing with lighter fluid, but it’s all about the effort, baby.