Actors, comedians, rock stars… is there anything Jack Black and Kyle Gass can’t do? Collectively they are known as Tenacious D, and they took their rock and roll show on the road to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album. The final stop of the tour was at The Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater in San Diego and they’re on a mission to rock your world.
The opening act for these shows was Puddles Pity Party. Appearing as a sad seven-foot-tall, Paliacci type clown in white satin and grease paint, his look may be a little unsettling, but his voice is nothing but pure gold.
Puddles is a character created by Atlanta-based entertainer Big Mike Geier and he came to national attention through his appearances on the TV show “America’s Got Talent.” He began his set with a haunting song called “You Killed My Love” from the movie “Satan was a Lady.” Puddles specializes in songs of unrequited love or a love lost. I found him to be an amazing talent, who’s able to take well-known songs and give them a unique spin of his own.
For instance, a smash-up of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” sung to the tune of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues becomes “Pinball Prison Blues” or he’ll flip that later and “Folsom Prison Blues” sung to “Pinball Wizard” becomes “Folsom Wizard” and guess what? It works. Puddles is also a master of the prop and he makes use of a number of them throughout his show, playing a cardboard guitar in the style of Pete Townshend or using an old telephone as a microphone prop to sing E.L.O.’s “Telephone Line.”
Jack Black even became a prop at one point when he came out dressed as a bottle of tequila and sat on Puddles’ lap while he sang the Los Lobos song “Estoy Sentado Aqui.” Puddles uses facial expressions and body language to great effect to covey the longing and pleading in each of his songs. He closed his performance with a mash up of “Come Sail Away” and “Let It Go” inviting the crowd to join in and sing along as his roadies joined him on stage miming and air drumming along.
The smoke machines fired up and the stage lights came on as the backing band took their places to the theme from “Post-Apocalypto,” Tenacious D’s YouTube animated series. With a large castle as their backdrop, Kyle Gass and Jack Black came on stage. Gass looking a little like a off-season mall Santa Claus and Black wearing a tie-dyed shirt with what can only be described as a dick and balls rocket ship blasting off.
With his hand high in the air majestically holding a glowing green orb for all to see, he boldly began to rap, “You see this here green crystal, it’s called the Crystal of Gilgamesh, it crashed 12,000 years ago near the city known as Budapest.”
He continued to extol the virtues that said crystal had bestowed upon him and boldly proclaims that “He’s the Chosen One.” Kyle flipped his Martin acoustic around in front of him while JB announced, “You know what time it is? ‘It’s Woman Time’!” busting out a song from their latest, “Post-Apocalypto.”
Throughout the night, they played a career-spanning set that included songs from each of their albums. Beginning with 2018’s Post-Apocalypto, followed by “Rize of The Fenix” and then fan favorites like “Kickapoo” and “The Metal” from “The Pick of Destiny.” The lights dimmed to set the mood for what is the “Greatest and best song in the world… ‘Tribute’.” If you know the song, you know what an epic tune it is and the crowd responded in kind by showing their appreciation.
They smoothly transitioned into the song “Double Team” by asking the crowd the eternal question, “How’s it going? Are you flowin?” This evolved into a long-extended jam including a flute solo by the ever-talented Mr. Gass. Taking the moment to introduce the band and letting each member step into the spotlight to show their chops, Black also brought Puddles back out to do a vocal “solo” and then invited all the roadies to come out and take a bow before closing with a big finish.
When they returned a short time later for the encore, Black acknowledged that this was the end of the tour and they wanted to “Put it all out there” by playing a song that they haven’t played in a long time, “Explosivo” from their debut album.
Black introduced the following song “Master Exploder” by stating that “We almost never play this one, because it’s too difficult,” but they managed to do a great job.
Black dedicated the final song “to all the horny fuckers out there” and they proceeded to play the sweet love song “Fuck Her Gently” which had the crowd enthusiastically singing along.
One thing you can say about Tenacious D is that Jack’s unbridled enthusiasm and love of hard rocking music is infectious and that along with Gass’ musicianship, their use of comedy and rock and roll imagery can only leave you smiling and satisfied after their show. It does leave you wondering, how do they make acoustic guitars rock so hard?