Seeing "Weird Al" Yankovic With My Dad Was Even Stranger Than I Expected
Just me and my dad chillin at the "Weird Al" Mandatory tour
Photo by Aragorn Hansard
In the third installment of stuff I get to write about my dad (for those of you who have not yet been introduced, his name is Aragorn, he has a pretty expansive sword collection, and you can read more about him and how he got run over by a golf cart at Coachella here), we went to see polka-parody legend "Weird Al" Yankovic at the Greek Theatre this Saturday, and it was even nerdier than I expected.
Aragorn invites me out to a lot of things, like this year's Knotfest (his favorite band, Korn, is on the bill, along with other bands I used to listen to in the car with him when I was little, like Judas Priest and Gwar), or Evil Dead: The Musical. Most of the time I can't make it, partially because I'm a full-time student juggling two jobs, and partially because you could not pay me enough to go see Slipknot headline a festival.
But when my dad extended an invite to "Weird Al" Yankovic's Mandatory tour, I knew I had to go. You see, there are a few things that come to mind when I think of my dad: bacon, Star Wars, Korn and "Weird Al." I have many memories of letting myself into his apartment just to find him shimmying around the kitchen singing along to "Eat It"; Michael Jackson covers are one of my dad's favorite things (I have him on record saying he likes Alien Ant Farm's version of "Smooth Criminal" better than the original), and the crème de la crème of King of Pop parodies come out of Yankovic's discography.
"Weird Al" Yankovic's Mandatory Fun album cover
Photo courtesy of the artist
Needless to say, he was very excited. In the days leading up to the show, my dad posted some of his favorite "Weird Al" tracks on his Facebook page, and he even put careful consideration into what he was going to wear to the show. I thought outfit planning was reserved for things like first dates, or Coachella, but not a "Weird Al" concert. Man, was I wrong.
When we arrived at the Greek Theatre, we were surrounded by herds of Hawaiian shirt–wearing fans. (Aragorn opted for a more unique "Kitchen Warfare" T-shirt, depicting an AK-47 made out of kitchen utensils. "I had picked it because he sings a lot about food and food-related topics and the theme of the tour was pseudo-militaristic," he explained.) People also were wearing these swirly-patterned, multicolored pants like the ones Yankovic wore when he performed "Another One Rides the Bus" on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder in 1981. Others sported Jheri-curled wigs (at least I think they were wigs) and tin-foil hats, an homage to one of the most popular tracks off of his latest album, Mandatory Fun, "Foil," a parody of Lorde's inescapable chart-smasher "Royals." I half expected some dude wearing a doo-rag to pass by me on a Segway, as it appeared Yankovic's greatest hits were being paraded before me, and what would a 'Weird Al" parade be without a "White & Nerdy" ambassador?
It was the moment I saw the guy wearing a custom-made jacket that identically resembled what Yankovic wears on the Mandatory Fun cover that I knew I had underestimated the dedication of his fans. As someone who has never really delved into much of his music on my own, I suddenly was filled with excitement at the spectacle of all these people letting their freak flags wave high in the name of "Weird Al."
The show kicked off with a live feed of Yankovic singing "Tacky" as he walked through the parking lot and past venue employees. The people seated around me darted their eyes in every direction in anticipation of where "Weird Al" might enter. He came out about 10 feet to my left, and suddenly I was being swarmed by like 300 people. It was a seated event.
Mind you, I've been in a lot of mosh pits, but this seemed more dangerous. Apparently, you do not get in between an "Al-oholic" and their leader. And yes, Yankovic's fan club is actually called "Al-oholics Anonymous."
At first I couldn't believe it, but about halfway into a set of infectious polka reworkings of hits like "Wrecking Ball," "Sexy and I Know It" and "Get Lucky," it clicked. I never thought I would say this, but "Weird Al" is one of the best performers I've ever seen, and probably will ever see. He has the ability to bridge the gap between my father — a nu-metal fan in his mid-40s — a little boy wearing a tin foil hat and the boy's grandma, who throughout the night loyally sang along to nearly every song.
Every time I glanced over to my dad, he was mouthing every word with his phone perched under a giant smile, recording the whole thing. And when I say the whole thing, I mean the whole thing. Every song in full.
Now That's What I Call Polka! "Weird Al" performs Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball"
Photo by Artemis Thomas-Hansard
Throughout the show, Yankovic (and his entire band!) had about a dozen costume changes — outfits that ranged from an octopus suit with an ice cream cone hat (which he wore during "Perform This Way," poking fun at stars like Lady Gaga) to the flame-print tuxedo and fedora combo he donned during "Wanna B Ur Lovr," a song he went out into the audience and serenaded all the ladies with — and by serenade, I mean stand up on the seat next them and bend over and shake his ass. This was not the "Weird Al" I thought I knew.
Towards the end of the night, Yankovic sang a song about how he didn't have any more songs to sing. Then he came back and started singing again, and then again said he didn't have any more in him. I was very confused, but my dad has already seen "Weird Al" perform and told me not to worry, he would be back. He had a big grin on his face; he clearly knew what was coming.
Next thing I knew, Darth Vader and a whole fleet of stormtroopers were onstage for the encore, the Star Wars–themed "The Saga Begins." It was like everything my dad loves wholeheartedly onstage at the same time (well, minus the bacon), and although I often describe Aragorn as a sort of anomaly, it seemed that everyone in the audience that night felt the same way.
If there's one thing I learned from this show, it's that "Weird Al" fans go hard. My dad was pretty beat afterward, but somehow he still mustered the energy to go see Def Leppard, Styx and Tesla the next day.
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