The last night of a band's tour usually serves as a victory lap of sorts. Either they can do it slowly and savoir the feeling that the end is near, or they could sprint towards the finish line while putting on a memorable show. Last night at their homecoming gig at the Wiltern, Tenacious D did the latter.
In a room packed shoulder to shoulder with nary a clear sight line (unless you were some of the lucky ones who claimed their perch early), Jack Black and Kyle Gass rolled out their devilish brand of humor and music in a way that only they can. Having released their third album, Rize of the Fenix in May (their first since 2006's The Pick of Destiny), the duo and their backing band mixed songs from the new album to go along with old favorites.
The duo's trademark banter between their mock rock songs kept fans on their toes and chuckling throughout the night, while their songs inspired Viking-like chants of “D! D!” throughout the night.
“You know there's going to be extra shvitz (for those of you who don't speak Yiddish, this means sweat) tonight,” Black said referring to soon-to-be drenched gray t-shirt. “When you play L.A., you could be discovered so you have to pull out all the stops. Always let them see you sweat.”
That they did. Performing in front of a big cock that was shaped like, well, a cock (the other kind), Black and Gass took fans on a two-hour journey that had most fans singing along, when they weren't laughing along with them. Naturally, the biggest cheers came for standards like “Kielbasa,” while an up-tempo, punky medley of songs from The Who's Tommy (“Pinball Wizard,” “There's A Doctor,” “Listening To You”) was also well-received. Of course, it wouldn't have been a D gig without hearing them play “Fuck Her Gently,” which sounds just as funny live as it did hearing it for the first time as a stoned college student.
At one point Black asked the crowd if there were fans under 20, and when the cheers were few and far between, he quipped: “we're like Crosby, Stills and Nash, reaching out to a new generation.”
Considering that this was a hometown show for the L.A. duo, many of the band members' families were in attendance. Black's wife, two kids and mother were there, which made his decision to include several of the band's funnier, more vulgar songs in the set list a bit ballsy. But hey, he's Jack Black; you'd expect his family to be used to songs about hard fucking, cock push-ups and Ronnie James Dio.
Though shouldn't be expecting fine art at a D show, they will certainly have the ability to entertain. That's what they did last night. By the time the cock-shaped cock shot out confetti shaped like sperm, it was the sign that he sun was about to set on this tour, putting Black and Gass' band on another long hiatus. Though fans may not know when the band will put out any new material after this record.
Critical Bias: It was nice to see them live and relive some of those funny collegiate years, but once is enough.
The Crowd: Comic book dudes and their loyal ladies
Random Notebook Dump: Watching the couple in front of me swing dance to Tenacious D was certainly one of my stranger concert experiences.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.