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Review: Tenacious D's Pick of Destiny Tour Brings the Rock in Denver
22 November 2006

Tenacious D, the nearly infamous duo with dreams of becoming the greatest rock band of all time, blazed into Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium Wednesday night brandishing a boatload of tenassity, and the city will never be the same.

Like Spinal Tap, their music is a mix of comic lyrics and a genuine hard-rockin’ attitude. As with their long-haired brethren, the D’s genre leans toward a heavy metal mentality. But this dynamic duo plays their metal on jumbo acoustic guitars.

For the record, Tenacious D is Jack Black and Kyle Gass. Yes, that Jack Black; the hyper-maniacal star of “Nacho Libre” and Peter Jackson’s overblown “King Kong.”

Together, Black and Gass provided one highly entertaining evening at the sold out gig. “Highly entertaining” merely scrapes the surface, however. While the onstage shenanigans mixed comedy and theatrical rock, the general admission crowd provided its own antics, creating the ultimate in rock synergy.

The Live Experience

To set the stage, the Fillmore posted a list of rules and warnings, most of them pretty standard these days: no weapons, no moshing, no body surfing, no large backpacks, no video cameras, and no professional cameras (more explicitly, those with detachable lenses). Each of these rules would be broken or misconstrued in one way or another, thanks in large part to a lazy security crew from Staff Pro that failed to send a consistent message.

There’ll be more about this point later.

The audience-participatory synergy started with the “warm up” act, Neil Hamburger. Simply awful, the character (created and staged by stand-up comedian Gregg Turkington) was supposed to be some kind of aged, hacking stand up comic, but he redefined lame. And he succeeded immensely in riling up the crowd, with insults and finger-flipping in constant trade between Hamburger and the impatient audience. It’s stunning this character actually had a DVD and CD on sale at the swag stand. Not surprisingly, they weren’t moving. At all.

After Hamburger finally, mercifully left, leading into an uneventful 30-minute intermission, Tenacious D took the stage in classic form. The setting: Kyle’s apartment. The dynamic duo of rock is caught napping under a Spider-Man blanket and the crowd’s roars of excitement jolts them out of peaceful slumber.

From there, the evening would go on to feature a potpourri of all things D, including a dancing mushroom, Colonel Sanders on drums, guitar riffs from Charlie Chaplin and the Anti-Christ, and a not-too-terribly spectacular rock-off between those intrepid soldiers of rock (uh, I mean the D) and Satan.

The Rock Opera

Like something out of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Tenacious D found themselves in Hell after they messed with a sketchy electric guitar. Made from a toilet seat and sporting a heavy-duty orange extension chord, the boys were to be doomed to hellfire after getting electrocuted from plugging the sucker in while standing in a puddle of spilled beer.

It’s high-concept rock opera material, but not quite at the level of the Who’s “Tommy,” despite Tenacious D providing a smashing cover of “Pinball Wizard” toward the show’s end.

The set list was a pleasant mix of old and new, with the new material plucked from the D’s soundtrack for their new movie, “The Pick of Destiny.”

The classic tracks featured many D standards, including their cover of Queen’s “Flash Gordon” theme song, “Wonderboy,” “The Road,” “Friendship,” and “Tribute.” Other ditties included “Kickapoo,” “Master Exploder,” “Dude (I Totally Miss You),” “Break In-City,” and “The Government Totally Sucks.”

Even with the crowded itinerary and a whole good-versus-evil saga to tell, the pair managed to squeeze in plenty of their usual shtick, including Kyle ever-so-briefly quitting the band. For like, 30 seconds.

The Picks of Destiny

The crowd came prepared to rock to Tenacious D’s devilish lyrics and, in the very spirit of true rock ‘n’ roll, rules were broken.

Was there a token stoner boy who was far too cool for his own good? Yep.

Moshing? Check.

Body surfing? Oh yeah.

Dude with huge backpack laden with textbooks and complete with a dangling water bottle? Double check.

Was this same dude also moshing and body surfing? Yes to the former and yes to the latter—until he was brought down to his knees and almost kicked to the curb.

Did tragically hip stoner boy pass out? Oh yeah. And he wasn’t looking so cool when he was unceremoniously hauled over the security railing and taken away.

Throw in some beer splashing and one particularly overzealous security dude (well, maybe cut him a break; he was short) and the evening grew from being merely a concert event to the very fleshly existence of True Rock.

Then there were those guitar picks thrown out to the crowd with greater-than-usual frequency by Gass and Black. The frenzy those picks created was almost otherworldly. Not even The Edge or David Bowie witnessed such mayhem spurred on by a tiny piece of plastic. People were on their hands and knees, scrounging for the tossed picks—in the thick of the standing-room-only crowd pressing up to the stage—using their cell phones as flashlights.

It was like a pile of football players jumping on a fumbled football, but not nearly as athletic.

It was also amusing to see younger kids pushing and shoving their way up to the front, only to put their fingers in their ears to protect them from the noise. Niiiice. Some advise: go home, grow up, and when you’re ready to really rock, come back.

One more diss must be shouted out to that short security officer: next time do not forget the following from the D’s official website: “The Official Tenacious D Policy on the Filming and Photographing of our Shows: Have fun, go ahead tape our shows, but be cool and don’t sell our stuff.”

Surely the D, those guys who embody the very grassroots elements that put the rock in roll, would understand the deep felt irritation behind this fan’s request.

Remember: Rust never sleeps, hard rock will never die, and tomorrow will always be another day.

For more information on Tenacious D, visit the official Web site. The feature film, “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny,” (New Line Cinema) is in theaters now.


Originally published at Interference.com.

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