TOUR: Weird Al Yankovic -- The Poodle Hat Tour
SUPPORT: Tim "Slappy" Babb
VENUE: Redwood Amphitheater -- Santa Clara, CA
DATE: Sunday, September 7th, 2003
GEAR WORN: Gimme Ed Maiden Shit
MERCH PURCHASED: Poodle Hat Album Cover Shirt
MOSHING REPORT: None
EDDIES AWARDED: N/A
REVIEWED: January 31st, 2005
Tens days after Iron Maiden, I saw another member of the musical triumvirate that rules my musical universe: Weird Al Yankovic. Yes, you read that correctly: Saint Al of Yankovic. Before I even knew of Iron Maiden or metal, there was Weird Al; I first heard his music in late 1983 or early 1984. “In 3-D” was probably my very first non-classical album; over the years, I’ve gone through several copies of it. It’s that damn funny.
Weird Al was scheduled to play the Redwood Amphitheater at the Great America amusement park on Sunday, September 7th, 2003. Months before, I purchased six tickets the moment they went on sale and got fourth row center-stage seats for my effort. For $40 +/-, a ticket bought you all day admission into the park and the concert at night. You all know the prices of amusement parks these days; this was really like getting a Weird Al performance for free. The sad fact is that I couldn’t find one single person that wanted to see Weird Al with me; everyone had a silly, bullshit excuse. At the last minute, I decided to treat some engineers in my small office, including my boss and his son, just for the companionship.
Because I invited co-workers into the equation, weekend work silliness delayed our arrival until late Sunday afternoon – and then, only two of us escaped the office with others drifting in whenever. After strolling around Great America for the first time in a decade and a half, I took one engineer on his first coaster, a woodie (huh huh uh huh uh huh huh uh huh….) called the Grizzly. Afterwards while slamming some cardboard topped by fake melted mozzarella (advertised as pizza), we saw some teenage chicks in Megadeth shirts, all of whom went hornless since I did not think very highly of the band at the time. (For the record, I have since repented for my sins, as evidenced my reviews from last October in Reno and San Francisco.) When my boss and his son caught up with us, we sans previous coaster virgin went on a fast, floorless coaster themed after the Top Gun the movie. In the queue on its loading platform, I traded a few horns with kids proudly wearing their Maiden shirts from the concert a week before. I made a video of the whole experience from eye level with my handheld pocket camera.
As the sun retreated for the day, Great America closed and opened the Redwood Amphitheater gates for concert-goers. Security was very lax, as you might expect for a very non-metal but diverse crowd. Even with just a few metal concerts under my belt, it was odd to be in an audience where grandparents, parents, and kids were all sitting in the same row. Goofballs of all stripes sat everywhere, as you might expect for a Weird Al concert. The biggest surprise? I never even imagined the number of longhairs and metal shirts – mostly Maiden and Metallica – in the crowd. The Redwood Amphitheater seats about 10,000, most of it on benches instead of seats; I doubt the night was sold out but the place was extremely packed.
The promoter normally hires a comedian, usually local, to open the show and that night was no exception. Tim “Slappy” Babb, a local radio personality, provided the comedic support. This guy was supremely excited and funny, mocking all the dotbombs, local traffic, and his past girlfriends. Days after the concert, Slappy logged into www.wierdalforum.com
to many cheers. It turned out that he wasn’t any different than most of us; he had grown up on Weird Al and it was a dream come true to open for him.
30 minutes later after Slappy, Fun House came over the PA and AL WAS IN THE HOUSE! His stupid band consists of four very talented musicians: Jim West on Guitar, Steve Jay on Bass, Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz on Drums, and Ruben Valtierra on Keyboards. All help with backing vocals. You can find out all about them at the mothership: www.weirdal.com
. Rubin’s been with Al since the 1981; everyone else, since 1981. Al’s the star, but they all contribute to the show and fans miss them (even worry) when they’re not backing the man on stage.
Weird Al opened on accordion with his latest polka medley masterpiece, the Angry White Boy Polka, Papa Roach’s Last Resort, System of A Down’s Chop Suey, The Vines’ Get Free, The Strokes’ Last Nite, Disturbed’s Down With The Sickness, Rage Against The Machine’s Renegates of Funk, Limp Bizket’s My Way, Stained’s Outside, Kid Rock’s Bawitdaba, POD’s Youth of A Nation, and Emimem’s The Real Slim Shady have NEVER sounded so damn good. Al’s polka version splices are 1000x better than the originals. The show continued with Party At The Leper Colony and Your Horoscope For Today before shifting gear a bit.
The stage / show was more complex and choreographed than most of the metal gigs I attend. The roadies mounted three very large screens on which video was projected from on high in the rigging and lights. During setup between songs, the audience was treated to clips from ALtv and one of the greatest movies ever made, UHF. Some songs, especially during the medley, used video support as well. The light show was right up there with the best I’ve seen – i.e. Dio and Maiden. Al’s fog and soap bubble machines put out (huh uh huh huh uh huh…) like Metallica’s. Ok, Metallica doesn’t use bubble machines, but one day they will. Almost every song after the first three involved its own costumes and production.
After the first three songs, Al started rambling to the audience about cell phones, during which one went off. Of course, Al started to scowl disapprovingly at the audience. After a few seconds of bewilderment, I realized it was coming from the PA and was part of the show. After prodding from Steve, Al reached into his pocket and answered a call. It was the opening to A Complicated Song, an Avril Lavigne parody.
Melanie followed. I never paid much attention to it, but it has since turned into one my favorite tracks. How can you not love a song with the lyrics like this:
I just can't understand it
Why won't you return my phone calls
Are you still mad I gave a Mohawk to your cat
If you'd just say the word
I'm certain that our love would last forever and ever
Or are you too dumb to realize that
What can the problem be
Why won't you go out with me
How can you ignore me when you know that I can't live without you
I have to go through your garbage just to learn more about you
Here’s the full set list:
Angry White Boy Polka
Party At The Leper Colony
Your Horoscope For Today
A Complicated Song
One More Minute
Dog Eat Dog
It's All About The Pentiums
Wanna B Ur Lovr
Medley:Money for Nothing/ Beverly Hillbillies / Jerry Springer / Jurassic Park / Free Delivery / eBay /Theme From Rocky XIII / Ode To A Superhero / Lasanga / Pretty Fly For A Rabbi / My Bologna / Gump
Smells Like Nirvana
The Saga Begins
One More Minute is my favorite Weird Al tunes, one of his originals. It’s the song that you should send to your girlfriend right after she has dumped you. Here’s a sample of the lyrics: “I’d rather rip my heart out of my ribcage with my bare hands; And then throw it on the floor and stomp on it ’till I die; Than spend one more minute with you”. Al put on a smoking jacket for this one, walked around the audience, and serenaded the women folk – and gave many souvenirs like boxer shorts which he pulled from his pants. He did a similar schtick during “Wanna B Ur Lovr” but in a snazzier, pimped out suit – proof that Al was and is a magnet for babes.
During Smells Like Nirvana, a grunged down Al chugged water into the microphone and sang. Think about the original Nirvana cover and you’ll get the water reference. Of course, Al spit up the water on security and the audience, and then kicked the cup of remaining water into the crowd. Behind him, two local girls hired by the promoter did the cheerleader thing.
I could go on and on about each the skit. Instead, every person on this board should buy Al’s concert DVD instead. In fact, buy two copies. You’ll see genius as you’ve never seen it before.
No matter the skit, the band had their costume changes too – geek-ware for It’s All About The Pentiums, black clothing with beards and hats for Amish Paradise, Jedi cloaks for the Star Wars songs, etc. A lot of bands just get up there and do their thing; Al’s band constantly toyed with the audience.
Think you can’t headbang during a concert like this? Al interrupted Yoda to do the Yoda Chant; when the band began again, the metal freaks revealed themselves. The wall of sound hit us that hard… no moshing though.
A lot of people disrespect Weird Al because of his parodies and dismiss him as a knock off hack. They fail see to the utter genius in his humor, especially as he crosses many different styles of music with it. Real fans appreciate Al for his originals, perhaps more so than his parodies, which make up over half of his catalog. Weird Al is one of the greatest artists and entertainers I’ve seen, and I look forward to his albums and concerts as I do any from Maiden. The Eddie system was not in place yet, but you can bet I consider Weird Al to be almost as good as a Maiden concert; it just has a lower octane.