When asked if I wanted a free ticket to attend Weird “Al” Yankovic one and half hours before the concert started, I simply couldn’t refuse this random and spontaneous opportunity. Especially since my memory was immediately flooded with absurd verses from 1996’s Bad Hair Day, my first and only copy of a Weird Al album.
My friends and I arrived ten minutes before show time; the orchestra level was almost full and I imagine nobody was up in the balcony. From young children to baby boomers, the age range of the audience was pretty diverse. A lot of adults weren’t there with kids either, but that didn’t surprise me. Weird Al has been making parodies of popular songs since the early 80s and is still relevant and appreciated by generations old and new. Touring off his latest release from June, Alpocalypse, Yankovic emerged onstage to boisterous applause and cheers, beginning with his most recent polka medley, “Polka Face.” Strapped with an accordion and backed by a rock band, Al proceeded to perform top 40 radio hits from 2008-2010 with his trademark polka twist, including the obvious “Pokerface” by Lady Gaga, “Day ‘n Nite” by Kid Cudi, “Fireflies” by Owl City and “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry.
Yankovic continued to play songs off “Alpocalypse,” probably to keep the younger demographic satisfied, knowing their attention span and invested interest wouldn’t outlast their elders. A satirical new song “TMZ” pokes fun at the gossip site, notorious for posting photos and stories about the outlandish antics of celebrities. “Another Tattoo” comments on people’s strange need for more bizarre skin markings to fulfill their ink obsessions. One performance I thoroughly enjoyed was “Craigslist”, the music being a blend of various Doors songs with lyrics mocking the missed connections section and free stuff posts: “You were a blonde half-Asian with a bad case of gas/ I was wearing’ red Speedos and a hockey mask.” Al tapped into his inner Jim Morrison, wearing tight pants, a bohemian white blouse and shaggy wig, vigorously gyrating as if inebriated a.k.a classic Morrison. Of course the night wouldn’t have felt right without him doing his Lady Gaga parody “Perform This Way”, a youtube sensation receiving over nine million views. Wearing a peacock costume with his band also dressed in outrageous costumes was laughable though not nearly as ludicrous as Gaga would have done it.
Visual presentations of zany clips and references to Weird Al in popular culture kept the audience entertained during his numerous wardrobe changes. His famous “Al TV” interviews with musicians such as Madonna, Eminem, Robert Plant and Keith Richards were edited to create a humorous interplay between Al and his chosen subjects. Sure, they were silly and corny but funny nonetheless.
Going all out is Al’s forte for sure. Other memorable performances included his nineties hit “Amish Paradise” where he and his band dressed as Amish folk. During “White and Nerdy” he recklessly rode around on a Segway, rapping in a tacky red jumpsuit. And of course, Al performed his Grammy award winning songs for “best comedy recordings” and most beloved Michael Jackson parodies, “Eat It” and “Fat.” Yankovic dressed as MJ for the former song and donned a chain laden fat suit, complete with a double chin for the latter performance.
We all know “Weird” Al is big geek and speaks to the nerd inside us all, making his Star Wars inspired encore of “Yoda” and “The Saga Begins” a totally appropriate note to end on. “Yoda” uses the music of “Lola” and “The Saga Begins” is Don McLean’s “American Pie” (Anakin guy). Most definitely a clever lyrical homage to the Lucas legacy, especially the acapella and dance breakdown during “Yoda.”
While I never expected to attend a Weird Al concert in my life, this show undeniably exceeded my expectations. The man can perform in more ways than one, humorously yet impeccably embodying the spirit of the musicians he mocks (can’t forget “Smells Like Nirvana”) and continuing to deliver his traditional polka versions of popular songs throughout the past decades. He’s funny, quirky, dorky, and clever and knows how to put on an interesting concert for all ages. My friends and I couldn’t help but laugh and smile when we discussed our favorite moments post-show.