OK, so last night’s Fun Fun Fun Kick-Off Party catered to a certain demographic…geeks! But really, what would you expect from a night that started out with a local Queen tribute band (led by a 6′ 5″, bearded, skin-tight purple jumpsuit sporting lead singer) and ended with an inspired set by “Weird Al” Yankovic? It was time to put away the comic books, set down the 12-sided die, walk away from the computer and head down to Waterloo Park!
For the Kick-Off Party all acts were sequestered to the dual-Orange stages, with the exception of the Telsa Coil Rock Show that took place over by the halfpipe.
Manifico opened the night up to a light, but appreciative crowd with 45 minutes of Queen covers and a Bowie tune thrown in for good measure. Nothing great about the music or the vocals, but the stage presence was pretty cool and what they lacked in raw talent they made up for in showmanship and energy.
Todd Barry‘s sarcastic humour was the highlight of the opening acts. A little, dry guy…Todd played off the crowd ‘I’m trying to text from the front row and you just killed me with that joke, fuck! I might have just misspelled a word, dammit!’, as well as The Apples in Stereo sound-checking on the stage next to him ‘yeah, I flew 6 hours so your guitar could sound good’. He ripped on people, himself and the festival ‘this should be called Distraction, Distraction, Distraction Fest or at least drop a couple Funs and just call it Fun Fest’ ‘I want to take a good look at you and remember this, because this festival is going to be canceled’. He had a unique talent of drawing the crowd closer and closer in as he tried to push them away, I would love to see him do a full set in a club.
The Apples in Stereo continued the geek fest, coming out in silver suits and announcing they were from another planet from the future. Their set was entertaining, especially the songs I knew, but not a band I would go out of my way to see again. Half the crowd seemed pretty into it, while the other half wandered over to the large Tesla Coil that had been setup.
Chris Hardwick was up next and I didn’t find him as funny as Todd Barry. Chris had an in-your-face style. He had the persona of Dane Cook, but the nerdiness of Patton Oswalt. A lot of his jokes were about rednecks, ‘You gotta know when to hold ’em…’ and when the crowd finished with ‘know when to fold ’em’ he stops and yells out ‘see! that’s how you find ’em!’ The only other joke that stuck with me is when he was talking about Ghost Hunters and he asked if ‘you think Patrick Swayze spends his time going up behind people doing pottery just to fuck them up?’ He was alright, but I didn’t feel he was all that original and he tried too hard.
“Weird Al” was up next and this is what the crowd came for! There were guys wearing Al TV t-shirts with Hawaiian shirts over the top and one guy even had a shirt with a picture of him and Al and it read ‘Weird Al and I’ underneath, pretty sure it was dated and signed as well. Yeah. That happened.
I admit I have been a “Weird Al” fan since I was 8 years old and I have every album. I think he’s equal parts funny, talented and insane and I am happy to see him getting the positive attention he deserves. Seeing the hipster world take notice is a strange but welcome suprise.
Al‘s set started out with him and his accordion doing Polka Face, a polka mash-up of current songs from Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, etc. Great way to get the party started! The giant TV screens behind him showing footage of the artists he was polkafying. A few songs and a couple 2-sec drum solos were performed before the first costume change, this one into Kurt Cobain and cheerleaders for Smells Like Nirvana.
The costume changes came frequently from that point forward, each one accompanied by an Al TV interview on the big screen. Guests included Madonna (wanted to sleep with Al), Jessica Simpson (Sampson!), Keith Richards (mumbled the whole interview), Micheal Stipe (we have to thank for We All Have Cell Phones) and Robert Plant (wanted to hold hands).
The costumes were impressive. Full Devo outfits with the yellow suits and red planter hats for Dare To Be Stupid, while probably reminding some that their favorite band had canceled, were nothing less than genius. Jim Morrison garb for Craigslist (arguably the most inspired parody of the night). Amish suit, hat and beard. Bandanna and chain for White and Nerdy. Fat suit for Fat. And can’t forget the Obi-Wan Kenobi robe for The Saga Beings and Yoda (yo yo yo yo yo-da!). And really, what better way to end a night than with dancing Storm Troopers?!!!
The show went on for over 2 hours and I’m sure no one regretted walking away from Halo for the night! A great kick-off to what should be another fun, fun, fun weekend!
When the show was over I went to The Mohawk for Gorilla vs. Bear after-party and was really surprised by Memory Tapes‘ set. Like Delorean, I was expecting laptops. But like Delorean, the duo onstage had a real drum kit and guitar and performed an awesome set!
Antlers played next on the outside stage and they were good as usual. I have to admit I am getting burnt on the Hospice material though. One of my favorite albums last year, but after seeing them live a few times I am really ready for new songs, maybe something a little less depressing? I was up front for awhile but ended up in the back so I could text without being rude (learned that from Todd Barry!).
Fol Chen were up next on the inside stage, but it was time for me to call it a night. I wandered back to the hotel, ordered some wings, ate them and crashed hard.