June 26, 2012
This huge phallic phoenix, both the lone stage decoration for the entire set and a nod to the duo's recently released album, Rize of the Fenix, should tell you a lot about the duo's sense of humor. But Kyle Gass and Jack Black were in good company for their sold-out show at The Fillmore on Tuesday night - the crowd loved every minute of it.
Although many in the crowd were over the age of 30, Tenacious D played to everyone's inner 13-year-old boy. The band used "fuck" like they just discovered the word, dick jokes were plentiful and the song "Deth Starr" even lamented over the need to create a Death Star. Having never been a 13-year-old boy, I can't say I enjoyed this type of humor, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the show.
First of all, Tenacious D has hard rock chops. Although Black and Gass play acoustic guitars, they brought along a backing band for electric guitar, drums and bass. The band didn't sound as "metal" as Tenacious D claims to be, but the band still created some thunderous rocking. The bass or drums would occasionally get too loud in the mix, which was unfortunate considering that the comedic lyrics needed some clarity.
However, it's difficult to obscure Jack Black's gymnastic voice for long. His extreme animation can be grating to many moviegoers, but this demeanor works to his advantage as the frontman for Tenacious D. Here, his "rig-a-doo"s and sporadic hand gestures bring songs to life and only add to the "clueless musician" shtick. His piercing falsetto doesn't hurt, either. Gass, on the other hand, is more reserved on stage and lets his nimble guitar do the talking.
But Tenacious D is best when it plays up the theatrics. The most engaging parts of the show were when the band incorporated its movie, The Pick of Destiny. For example, Black chewed out Gass for playing badly and Gass "quit" the band, only to come back when Black starts singing "Dude (I Totally Miss You)." Or when their electric guitar player becomes "possessed by Satan," resulting in a musical showdown in "Bezelboss (The Final Showdown)." Even their best songs incorporate some theatrical storytelling, with songs like "Wonderboy" describing the band's epic journeys.
Tenacious D aren't the funniest comedy musicians - the one-joke penis-phoenix spewed confetti sperm at the finale, surprise surprise. And although the duo is talented, the songs are mostly just classic rock revisited and yet they have a seriously devoted fan base. The crowd knew every lyric, they chanted "D! D! D!" every chance they could get and they freaked out when Gass "left" the band. To them, Black and Gass are musical and comedic everymen.
Tenacious D is a band that doesn't look like rock stars or act like serious musicians, so their fans can relate. As Black sang in the fan favorite "Tribute," "We are but men." They're no more, no less - and their fans wouldn't have it any other way.
Rize of the Fenix
Low Hangin' Fruit
Dude (I Totally Miss You)
Kyle Quit the Band
Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)
The Cosmic Shame
Fuck Her Gently