If a show’s success is measured in audience energy or musician’s sweat, then Tenacious D’s concert at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles was certainly triumphant. The band’s famous front man, Jack Black, was soaked through his t-shirt, bounding around on stage, doing his patented high kicks to the delight of a more than thrilled crowd. Their performance was part of the 2012 tour to promote their third album, Rize of the Fenix. The record, which sold over 44,000 copies in its first week, was titled as such to symbolize the band’s desire to rise again after the critics panned their second album, The Pick of Destiny. Debuting at #5 on Billboard’s 200, Rize of the Fenix is already proving to make up for its predecessor.
“The D,” as they’re known to fans, are often characterized as a ‘mock rock’ group due to their silly tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top lyrics. However, after witnessing one of their shows, it’s clear that this band is less ‘mock rock’ and more ‘comedic musical.’ The band did not put on a concert as much as they put on an experimental play, replete with zany characters, a dramatic twist in the second act, and a rousing finale. Black, and his side kick Kyle Gass, immediately set the stage, appearing before the audience in white fuzzy coats aglow with strings of colored Christmas lights. It was strange and ridiculous, which is exactly why people love this band.
As an example of their showmanship and desire to put on more than a simple rock concert, the band played in front of a giant inflatable phoenix (which, in what I’m sure was no mistake, ended up looking an awful lot like angry genitalia). The phoenix’s wings spanned the entirety of the stage and changed colors with each new song in order to match the mood of the melody. True to their penchant for the theatrical, the band brought a variety of their lyric’s characters to life during the show. When they played fan favorite, “Yeti,” a Sasquatch ran across the stage, causing mayhem and laughs for the length of the number. He even grabbed a guitar with his giant Big Foot paws and played a few riffs during the song.
Out of their music, Tenacious D created a true show fraught with all the dramatics one might expect from an oddball off-Broadway musical. They set a tune to their fights with a giant green alien squid, each other, and even the devil himself. Black promised early on that they would, “pull out all the stops” during the show, and that’s exactly what they did. As their grand finale, the phoenix that had been sitting quietly on stage, turned an ominous shade of red, fell over and shot out thousands of confetti pieces on to the ecstatic audience. After coming out for their encore performance of their calling-card, “F*** Her Gently,” Black confidently shouted, “I don’t think you could deny that we’ve rocked you extremely hard tonight.” He’s right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better Sasquatch-filled-mock-rock-comedic-musical-concert before. But, that’s probably because they’re the only ones that have ever done one.
Tenacious D’s raucous show is not to be missed if they come to a town near you.
By Darianne Dobbie