30 Jun 2012: Festival Pier at Penn's Landing Philadelphia
It was balmy. Local news meteorologists were telling people, notably the elderly, to stay inside. Philadelphia was in the midst of a heat wave the weekend before the 4th of July. Such warnings didn’t matter because Tenacious D was in town to blow your mind.
Wavy heat wasn’t holding anyone back at the Festival Pier that day. A huge venue on the Delaware River with no coverage from the sun, except an air-conditioned tent that removes you from the experience completely. The fact that most of their fans donned sleeveless t-shirts was a plus under such conditions. I showed up to the show solo, sleeves intact, but left a different man.
The crowd was filled with metal heads. I’ve never seen so many Iron Maiden T-shirts in my life. They weren’t worn ironically or in a neatly packaged hipster fashion. These shirts were bought on Maiden’s world tour. I looked out of place and worked hard to blend in. I was patiently awaiting someone to shout, “College boy!” in my general direction. The manes of stringy hair and tight black jeans left me wondering. Weren’t Tenacious D mocking this culture? Or are they paying homage by playing great music?
The opening band, the Front Bottoms, riffed on life as a teenager. They are a modern punk band comprised of three young chaps who were influenced by the angsty tunes of Blink-182. In fact they sounded like a Blink-182 cover band. They had a small following who crowd- surfed and cheered along as the lead singer crooned about killing his Dad. The fans appeared mildly restless for the D after this rollicking set. I heard faint “D” chants when The Front Bottoms set ended, but nobody was prepared for the second act.
The Sights entered stage left, and that’s when things got kind of nasty. The Detroit based rock outfit was facing one of their biggest foes: a hot and sweaty crowd from Philadelphia who were thirsty for the D. The fans simply weren’t interested in connecting with the style of The Sights. They came for the D, and the D only. They especially weren’t happy about the saxophonist. I was surrounded by a group of fans who absolutely hated the saxophone. “Get the saxophone off the fucking stage! Bring on the D!” shouted a crowd of restless concertgoers. I haven’t seen so much hatred for a woodwind since the smooth jazz of Kenny G came to the fore.
I was about 30-feet from the stage, but The Sights weren’t just catching shit from afar, they were getting booed by the fans up front too. The Sights lead singer, who looked like a hipster David Spade, decided to lambaste the unruly fans by proclaiming, “Shut the fuck up! At least I can afford sleeves!” Not a good move.
This is when the D chants hit a violent fervor. I could barely hear the band at this point because everyone around me was howling in disgust. They trudged through their set amongst the boos and Ds, but didn’t leave without letting the crowd know how they felt.
After their last song the lead singer muttered to the crowd something about not appreciating their music and thanked the ‘real fans’. Then he decided to spit on the stage and give the crowd the middle finger with both hands.
Boos and water bottles came flying from across the whole venue. It was instant and amazing. A double fuck you to a crowd of unruly metal heads? This guy had balls, but I was really worried about the saxophone player. He might have needed a police escort out of the venue. I have never seen such an adverse reaction to an opening act. I’m sure its happened a million times before, but these people were under the trance… the trance of the D.
The holiday weekend meant fireworks, and what better place then along the Delaware River, next to the Festival Pier merely minutes before Tenacious D hit the stage. I think the fireworks settled the crowd down a bit. They forgot about the Sights bashing them for a minute and looked to the sky. I’m sure the weed helped, but this was the calm before the storm. A fireworks show before the crowd got what they waited for in the ludicrous heat seemed fitting.
The D entered stage right donned in white robs that were fitted with colorful LED lights. Heads down and arms crossed they stood before the raucous crowd in silence. The D was finally here to fuck everyone’s ear holes and the crowd was ready to get fucked.
That’s when the biggest cock I have ever seen appeared.
Behind the D stood a massive inflatable penis with wings, the same image from the cover of their latest album, Rise of the Fenix. The portly duo then turned into a five-piece band, opening with the titular “Rise of the Fenix”. It was quite refreshing to see such massive movie star in Jack Black, shaking his sweaty head over the front row like a dog. It’s rare that you get to see someone who garners so much at box office reveling in showering the crowd with sweat. They didn’t respond so well earlier when another lead singer addressed them with some bodily fluids, but that was all forgotten at this point. They crowd didn’t seem to care that the first half of their set was strictly from their poorly received new album. They were there to sell their souls to the D.
When they started playing “Kielbasa” off their iconic debut, an old man next to me with a braided ponytail screamed to his friend, “Where’s the joint! Where’s the joint! This is my fucking song!” I think those words are alone should be a good gauge on how the rest of the show went. They also ripped through several tracks from the soundtrack to the criminally underrated Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny while acting out scenes from the movie with other members of the band. Most surprising and impressive was the medley of songs they played by The Who before ending their set. It was a true sign that they had grown musically. This was a good reminder that Tenacious D isn’t just mocking a culture. They are simply a legit band.
When their set ended the massive cock pointed towards the crowd and shot a massive load of white confetti into the air. I can’t think of a better way to let the fans know how much you appreciate them. The cock then deflated to a groaning crowd, but the show wasn’t over. Black and Kyle Gass came out for a three-song acoustic set that ended with the sing along classic: “Fuck Her Gently”.
I left the show unscathed and sleeved, although I thought I might have had to rip them off at one point to fit in. But in truth I was never left out. I was at the show for the same reasons as the metal heads and progressive rock enthusiasts. We all were there to get fucked. Fucked in the ear hole by the D.