Weird Al Yankovic
Revention Music Center
August 18, 2015
Seeing Weird Al Yankovic is like getting the best history lesson you can on popular music over the past couple of decades. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s damn near close. In his show you can chart the changing sound of pop, get a roadmap of the various styles of rock and see how rap music became part of the mainstream.
It’ll also paste a gigantic smile on your face.
Weird Al and company are a well-oiled machine, and have been for a while. They know exactly what they’re doing onstage. They know the bits that work and the songs the crowd wants to hear. They transition from genre to genre flawlessly.
They make it look so easy that it’s actually hard to describe. Amazing people doing amazing things usually are.
This is the tour for Mandatory Fun, Al’s first album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and so the show was heavy on the new stuff. Mandatory Fun is a really solid record, one that benefits from songs that really lend themselves to the Weird Al treatment.
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Most of us could go without hearing Robin Thicke again, right? “Blurred Lines” may be catchy, but “Word Crimes” is all the catchiness without the creep factor. “Handy” lets us listen to the “Fancy” beat while not having to suffer through Iggy Azalea.
“Tacky” kicked off the show, and while it may not be a significant improvement on “Happy,” it did lead to one of the most interesting openings to a show I’ve ever seen. Al started the concert outside of Revention, singing to a camera that followed him from a Houston sidewalk through the lobby of the venue and the crowds on the floor and up onto the stage. Needless to say, the crowd, already excited to see the man, was extra-amped after this.
Of course, Al could basically do no wrong once the show got in to full swing. “Dare to be Stupid” and “Fat” were the big favorites early in the set, but the real winner of the night was — and this shouldn’t come as a shock since this is Houston — was “White and Nerdy,” for which the crowd lost its mind when the song started.
Throw in his Star Wars-inspired tracks at the end (“The Saga Begins” and “Yoda”) and you had a night that spoke to the nerdy in all of those in attendance.
Weird Al is a genius, and I’ll fight you if you disagree. (Verbally. Please don’t hit my fleshy parts.) We live in an age where anyone with a smartphone can go viral with a parody song, and you could argue that Weird Al would probably not be a thing if he had to start his career in this day and age; there’s just too much noise sometimes to find the single.
But the thing that inspires me about Weird Al and company is that they take this silly music seriously. There’s not a genre in existence that I don’t think they could tackle and conquer. I wish more bands took their music as seriously as Al and friends seem to do.
The day will come when there is no more Weird Al, and with it we’ll lose one of the true badges of honor in pop culture: having your song parodied by the king of the parody. But for now, dig into that old pile of CDs or do a search on Spotify and give those old Weird Al albums a spin.
They’re way better time capsules than the Now! That’s What I Call Music releases.
Personal Bias: While I can understand not liking Weird Al, I’m not sure I’d want to be friends with someone who hated him. I can only have so many monsters in my life.
The Crowd: Mostly white and nerdy.
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Overheard in the Crowd No. 1: “Are you playing a noob?” “I think I am.” Two dudes behind me were really into a game of Hearthstone before the show started.
Overheard in the Crowd No. 2: “His fingers are lightning!”, said one really enthusiastic dude on his way to his seat. I didn’t hear whose fingers he was describing. I hope they were Al’s.
Random Notebook Dump No. 1: Walking over to Revention, my +1 commented on how it would be neat to see Weird Al over at the Wortham Center. That would be awesome.
Random Notebook Dump No. 2: I'd cut off a toe for a Weird Al/Ween tour.