Tenacious D celebrated more than 20 years of existence at The Castro Theatre last night as part of the opening night of Sketchfest. Due to start at 9:30, the Napoleon Dynamite screening went on a little long, and there was some trouble with the ticketing that caused an additional delay. So we’re on rock n’ roll time here, which seems appropriate for the greatest band in history. Or at least for a tribute.Our host for the evening was Paul F. Tompkins, who had introduced the band many times before, both on the show, on stage, and of course in their movie, The Pick of Destiny. He told an extended story about his family seeing this feature film, and then introduced a montage of clips from throughout Tenacious D’s career. This was received well in the beginning but was clearly just a warmup act.
Soon, the lights came up, some chairs were brought up on stage to gigantic applause, and then finally, Jack Black and Kyle Gass came on stage to a rousing standing ovation. Paul F Tompkins was convinced we were all applauding for the chairs, but there was a lot of love for “The D” in the room.
An interview segment followed, and everyone seemed to be bored by the entire thing, with the exception of a couple of funny stories — one about the challenge of opening for Tenacious D during their ascension, which Jack then compared to the challenge they had opening for Tool. The best story told was one about their worst gig ever, playing a Miller Genuine Draft party, where they were only going to be paid if they played for 35 minutes, but the audience turned on them immediately.
An audience Q&A followed, which featured a lot of people yelling questions out of turn, and really nothing of any import. When asked what their favorite music to listen to was, they said “Neil Young 1970-1979″ and someone booed. “Really?” Jack Black said, “even Neil Young would have had trouble opening for us?”
That covered the conversation and clips, but the sold-out crowd was here for the songs. So when Paul F Tompkins took a piece of paper out of his pocket and said, “the next band asked me to read this,” the audience’s excitement reached a fever pitch.
And boy, did we get songs! I was expecting a little 15-minute mini-set of a few classics, but we got over an hour of hard rocking material. This was the first time for me seeing Tenacious D without the rest of the band, and they are really are a talented duo. Comedy is hard, and comedy music is even harder, but Kyle Gass wails on the guitar, and Jack Black is a fantastic singer.
Everyone sat rapt in their seats, singing along at times, clapping along when encouraged by Jimmy the Roadie, and finally rushed the stage for the closing encore of “Fuck Her Gently,” which ended with people leaping on stage to collect the picks being tossed around by Jack Black. From a dry conversation to an out-of-control rock ‘n roll show. Who’d want it any other way?
Tenacious D setlist for 1/23/2014 at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco
(Jack and Kyle fight. Kyle quits, as expected.)
Dude (I Totally Miss You)
Kyle Quit the Band
Rize of the Fenix
Low Hangin’ Fruit
The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and The Rage Kage
To Be the Best
Double Team (with extended “War Pigs” vocal solo)
Fuck Her Gently