Tenacious D. Red Rocks. 07.26.12

The D have come a long way since opening for Galactic and Ween at Red Rocks back in 2001.  Or have they?  Sure, a little over a decade later they are able to headline the venue in Morrison, but is that really based on anything Tenacious D have done?  Or is it more about Jack Black’s status as a movie star?  The HBO series had already aired by that date in 2001. Their self-titled album had been recorded (although it wouldn’t be released until a month later) and Jack Black was a surprise stand-out in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity — a film that would catapult him into superstar status within a couple years.  2001 was probably the highlight of Tenacious D as a duo.  JB would go on to be the star, and although he never forgot his partner in crime (Kyle Glass), The D would never be the top priority for a man collecting millions for high budget films.

For the past ten years Tenacious D’s largest impact on pop culture came in the form of The Pick of Destiny — a bomb of a movie and soundtrack.  I can’t comment on either, as I never saw the movie or listened to the album, but despite the support of heavy hitters like Dave Grohl and Ronnie James Dio, popular opinion was that The D was dead.  So, when JB and KG took the stage on Friday night, they were quick to put the rumours to bed…

…but one thing no one thought about, was The D would rise again. Just like the phoenix, we’ll fucking rise again! That’s right the phoenix, we’ll rise again!

Backed by an inflatable phallic phoenix, complete with a set of gigantic balls, The D were determined to prove those lyrics from the title track of their latest album, Rize of the Fenix, weren’t just empty words.  JB and KG came to “make sweet love to your ear canal“, all while rocking you “harder than Slayer in ’98“, and although they don’t have the musical prowess to do any such thing, they brought along a full band that (while definitely not Slayer) had no problem making this as much a rock concert as a comedy show.

Busting their ‘new material’ nut early in the evening, the select Fenix tracks made me second guess my initial dismissal of the album.  The self-aware title track, the end of days “Deth Starr”, and the Neil Diamondesque “39” were all hilarious highlights — literally some of the best material I’ve heard from Jack Black (in or outside of Tenacious D) in quite some time.  “Roadies” acted as both tribute and insult to those who do the heavy lifting — all of them were brought onstage for a quick bow before JB ran them “the fuck off!“.

There was so much weed being smoked in the audience, I literally thought I might need oxygen treatment myself, but it was JB who had the water and oxygen tank rolled out every so often.  “…is Red Rocks a city, a venue, or a state of mind?”  On this particular night, I think Red Rocks was actually a collective personality — part-time comic book geek, part-time heavy metal hesher, and full-time stoner.  I literally saw one guy light three joints at once and smoke them himself.  By the time The D finished up with the new material and took us back to the turn of the century with “Wonderboy”, the dude in front of me couldn’t stand anymore, but that didn’t stop him from lighting up another!

Although I’m sure everyone was stoked for the preview for the 2015 album (“just one song called simply Jazz!“), it was the old stuff that really got the crowd going.  For me, songs like “Kielbasa”, “Tribute” and “Double Team” reminded me of how much I loved watching the short-lived series, but I was also surprised by how well some of the Pick of Destiny songs worked.  “The Metal” left no doubt as to the strongest form of music.  The “Beelzeboss” battle for the soul of the “electric guitar player” was one of the most memorable skits.  And the “Kyle Quit The Band” scene wouldn’t have been the same without “Dude (I Totally Miss You)”.

By the end of the set, the wings of the phoenix were long gone, leaving just a huge dick and balls.  So it was, that after the drum, electric guitar, bass and JB vocal solos, the phoenix unloaded confetti all over the crowd before going limp.  The show was over, but everyone knew there was more to come.

The encore included a few songs, but they were just foreplay — the climax came in the form of a song “to the dudes, on behest of the ladies“.  When I first heard “Fuck Her Gently”, I never dreamed I would hear it sung by thousands of people among the rocks in Morrison, Colorado, but that’s just what happened.  A fitting finale to a fart joke evening with the Tenacious D!  Here’s to checking Red Rocks Headliner off your “cream dream buck list” guys!  And here’s to Jack Black for keeping The D alive, even though he probably has better things to do.

Rize of the Fenix
Low Hangin’ Fruit
Deth Starr
Throw Down
Dude (I Totally Miss You)
Kyle Quit the Band
The Metal
Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)
The Who’s Tommy Medley
Double Team

Jesus Ranch
Fuck Her Gently