Tenacious D The Pageant July 23, 2012
Tenacious D has the biggest dick in rock and roll. Not that I've seen too many rock band dicks -- I can't think of any offhand, actually -- but still I think it's safe to say Tenacious D's looming twenty foot dick easily towers above them all.
Allow me to explain. Inspired by the cover of the new record Rize of the Fenix, the lone set piece serving as a backdrop for the self-proclaimed "Greatest Band in the World" is a giant inflatable phoenix (or "Fenix") that looks, well, like a gigantic dick -- replete with gigantic balls. The album even comes with a sticker covering the bulk of the offensive piece of male anatomy - suffice it to say that subtlety is not Tenacious D's specialty. Dick jokes and juvenile humor are, however, and the capacity crowd at the Pageant Monday night couldn't get enough of it.
In the run up before the band went on, the shoulder-to-shoulder floor was bursting with enthusiasm. Every time there was any action whatsoever on the stage (roadies setting up equipment, house checking the lights, etc.), the crowd would scream with excitement, chanting "D, D, D, D," virtually foaming at the mouth to see their heroes in action. When the lights went down and the bands intro music started up, the roar was deafening.
Core members Jack Black and Kyle Gass took to the stage slowly, entering from the side in white glowing robes, hoods up. Triumphant, swelling classical music filled the house speakers as one of the band's roadies came out and removed the robes from the duo. As Gass and Black began performing the opening lines of the new album's title track, the backing band took the stage -- guitarist John Konesky, bassist John Spiker and drummer Brooks Wackerman, who also plays in seminal punk band Bad Religion. When the full band kicked in, the lights flashed as that enormous dick I mentioned earlier swelled and took shape, towering behind the band for the rest of the night's festivities.
The band remains as engaging as ever, and Jack Black's vocal range continues to impress -- throughout the night he sang every word to every song, never tiring in spite of his wind-up-toy-on-cocaine-like stage presence. The duo still retains the onstage chemistry they have always had, and oftentimes they faced one another at a distance of only a foot or two while shredding through chords on their acoustic guitars. In between nearly every song they took increasingly exaggerated, synchronized bows, oftentimes after "freeze framing" and remaining completely immobile for a few seconds. The timing in all of their moves was flawless enough to reveal its own choreography but effortless enough to come across as organic.
Other highlights of the night included an onstage attack by some kind of squid-alien-thing during "Deth Star," Black's mock-belittling of his roadie (he had the man towel him off and massage his back onstage), and the band's performance of new song "Jazz" from its upcoming one-song-only 2015 album, entitled Jazz (through noodling guitars, walking basslines and jazzy drums, Black sang "Jazz! Jazz! Jazz! You cannot rehearse the jazz, it just happens! You must improvise the Jazz, it just happens! Three hours of non-stop jazz! You won't leave this theater until 8:30 a.m.; we're playing hours of jazz!" before a roadie brought out a plastic toy saxophone for him to "play").
Through all the comedy, it is easy to forget sometimes that the members of Tenacious D do have considerable talent. At the end of "Double Team" the band members each soloed briefly but effectively on their instruments as Black introduced each of them, culminating ultimately in a self-introduction and vocal "solo" -- an exaggerated a capella rendition of "Three Times a Lady" that quickly disseminated into fractured yodeling. At the end of the set, Black said "I don't think you can deny that we rocked you extremely hard this evening." As the aforementioned Biggest Dick in Rock leaned forward and ejaculated ticker tape confetti all over the stage, all the members stood in a line and took a bow, having indeed rocked a satisfied Pageant crowd to completion.
Personal Bias: I loved the TV show, liked the movie, and dug the albums. Fair to say I was already a fan going in.
Overhead: In what seemed like an unscripted moment, Jack Black mentions the huge, sold out crowd, and pontificates that the band may need to play a bigger venue next time, quipping "Maybe Busch Stadium -- The D is deep in the Bus(c)h."
Rize of the Fenix Low Hangin' Fruit Señorita Deth Star Roadie Throw Down Jazz Kielbasa Kickapoo Dude (I Totally Miss You) Kyle Quit the Band Friendship The Metal Wonderboy Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown) Pinball Wizard (The Who Cover) Tribute Double Team Encore: Baby Jesus Ranch Fuck Her Gently