Tenacious D Splooges All Over the Audience at the Fox

Categories: Last Night

By David Corcoran

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David Corcoran
Tenacious D
The Sights
May 24, 2012
Fox Theater

Better than: The Pick of Destiny. By a lot.

If you happened to take in Tenacious D's show last night at the Fox Theater in Oakland without having first listened to recently-released album Rize of the Fenix, you missed out on some serious singalong time. It's understandable, though - as duo leader Jack Black himself sings on the new record's opener and eponymous track: "When The Pick of Destiny was released it was a bomb / and all the critics said that the D was done." Mid-career missteps of the creative judgment type usually encourage old fans to shelter in the familiarity of early material - in this case, 2001's self-titled debut.

But what if your next record is actually really good? The problem with announcing comebacks is that there's frailty in overconfidence. It's often safer to just show up, do a better job, and let the music speak for itself. Jack Black can't work that angle, though, because he just spends so much damn time talking about being awesome. A quiet, earnest effort would indicate a severely damaged D.

So when a 40-foot inflatable cock and balls (sorry, inflatable phoenix) was erected on stage as opener "Rize of the Fenix" dropped into its thumping refrain, the crowd's tense anticipation gave way to laughter and the collective realization that yes, this would be awesome, and yes, Black and company were going to shout it from the rooftops all night. "I don't really care about this shit, but apparently we were number one on the rock chart," Black remarked after the first song to an eruption from the floor. "We sold more records, last week, than Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles put together." Laughter, reassuring cheers.

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David Corcoran

The show progressed in typical D fashion with a well-paced and cohesive mix of music and stage antics strung together with Black's gifted comedic interludes (some scripted, some ad-libbed, and all quite funny). The responsiveness of the crowd seemed to genuinely lift and inspire all five performers on stage. John Konesky's nimble fingers picked out electric guitar solos and licks that gave songs the full depth of their recorded versions and took some of the noisemaking burden off of Black and partner Kyle Gass, both of whom seemed to be showing their age more than they probably intended at the one-hour mark. Hey, it was a hard-rockin' show, sure, but we're talking buckets of sweat and notable difficulty delivering some of the falsetto stuff with any power.

The sound was also oddly problematic for a show of this production quality. Gass's opening on "Senorita" was interrupted by a runaway squeal of feedback, forcing an emergency guitar swap by roadie Sean Cox and a restart of the tune. Black's vocals remained irritatingly buried beneath drummer Brooks Wackerman and bass player John Spiker (through no fault of their own - each laid down a bedrock foundation all night). That was strange considering the razor-sharp timbre and near-overloaded quality Black's voice took on when he spoke during the breaks.

The crowd was over the moon with the delivery, though, and the theatrical elements in particular seemed to land well. Several characters from the D musical universe made appearances in costumed form - the alien squid from "Deth Starr," a guitar-wielding, hard-shredding Sasquatch from "Sasquatch," Cox the aforementioned roadie from "Roadie." Kyle did indeed quit the band just before "Kyle Quit the Band" (and he rippled glee through the theater by dropping trou and flashing ass while walking off stage), and Konesky was possessed by Satan for the epic rock-off in "Beelzeboss."

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David Corcoran

By the time the crowd had finished chanting out every lyric in set closer "Double Team," and the band had jammed out solos for their acknowledgements, the phoenix/cock was lowered via cable to a supremely audience-offensive angle. Sure enough, as the final flurry of musical activity reached its peak, the urethral spigot opened and the bird-balls ejaculated a massive stream of coarse confetti out into the crowd. How could it have ended any other way?

Critic's Notebook:

OPENER: The Sights, led by ebullient frontman Eddie Baranek, blasted out catchy '60s pop tracks to a generally warm reception. The gang seemed to have all the characteristics that JB & KG champion: energy, good humor, and a sincere desire to rock.

ADVICE FOR LIFE: DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY: Look, you're getting older. Tenacious D the album came out a long time ago, and maybe you think you're a little over it. Do you have to go out and buy a shirt that has a big "Cleveland Steamers" scripty logo on the front in the style of an old MLB jersey? No. Should you probably try to relax and laugh at the stupid sex jokes at the concert? You tell me.

SETLIST
Rize of the Fenix
Low Hangin' Fruit
Senorita
Deth Starr
Roadie
Throw Down
Kielbasa
Saxaboom
Kickapoo
Dude (I Totally Miss You)
Kyle Quit the Band
Friendship
The Metal
Sasquatch
Papagenu (He's My Sassafrass)
Wonderboy
Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)
Tribute
Pinball Wizard / Listening to You
Double Team / band introduction jam

ENCORE
Warning
Fuck Her Gently

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4 comments
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Sara
Sara

Ahahahahaha okay so the title of the article caught my eye and I'm glad I read it. Fucking genius. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful review! It convinced me to finally check out the album; I loved it. It was so fun to listen to! The video for Low Hangin' Fruit is pretty great, too. Welcome back, Tenacious D. Welcome back.

Alex
Alex

Hahahahaha.  I would love to see these guys play live.  Jack is such an entertainer.  Rize of the Fenix is epic, rock on!!!

Nate Anderosn
Nate Anderosn

Amazing show at the fox. The D has mad style.And if you haven't heard the greatness of Rize of the Fenix. Do It.

Jen
Jen

I would love to experience a Tenacious D show! These guys are awesome. I just watched their video for Low Hanging Fruit -- hilarious! Check it out. http://www.vevo.com/watch/tena...

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