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By Mark Bell | February 15, 2007

Went to a Tenacious D show with Level2 (Zack, previously known as Rookie, now known as Level2) on the eve of Valentine’s Day. The show was in Santa Barbara and, for those of you who have never been, imagine a town populated with teens-twenties people all dressed like they fell off a Fall Out Boy music video shoot, all waiting for the older citizens in town to die out so that they may take over. Walking State St. to the Arlington Theatre (a long walk, because Level2 must’ve parked us back in Ventura), it had a Santa Monica Promenade feel (in that I kept dodging street buskers) and a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” vibe (in that every teen in dark make-up had the potential to be a vampire that I would have to kill). Anyway…

We got to the theatre and waited in a ridiculously long line just to get frisked. There wasn’t any general admission, so we all had hard tickets so there was no need for lines that long, but the frisking was thorough and uncomfortable. For the first time in ages I was asked to empty my pockets (which was odd, as I already had, but apparently not good enough) and though they did not wand me, I felt violated as such. The line delay caused Level2 and I to miss the first song by opening rap group Supafloss and, in all honesty, that was okay with me. Nothing against them, what I could understand due to the possibly shakey mic system had me giggling, but it was the wrong crowd for the semi-ironical white rap thing. The best part of their short set was the tall bearded guy in the Lakers jersey and jumpsuit, standing on stage and just, well, standing there. THAT was genius. Later on in the night, he would change clothes and come stand next to our row of seats (Level2 got us good tix, close to the front), and I kept looking over and thinking “he’s with me, jersey or no.” I’m sick like that.

Level2 waiting for the show to start”¦

“¦with his official Tenacious D cum rag.

Supafloss was followed by the exercise in patience and crowd tolerance that is Neil Hamburger. I’ve seen the guy on late-night, so I knew what to expect, but he made that audience suffer for a good 30 minutes. As each joke sucked, and each heckle screamed from the audience, I cracked up because I kept picturing the D off-stage giving Neil more and more time, just to continue f*****g with us. That level of evil towards the audience I really appreciated. Best nonsensical joke of the evening: Why did God create Domino’s pizza? To punish the Earth for its complacency during the Holocaust.

Neil Hamburger is EVIL.

The D took the stage next, with a backdrop to look like Kyle’s room. Armed with the twin acoustics, they went to work and… I was underwhelmed at first, and let me explain. We were all standing, but once the band started playing it sounded exactly like the album (first one, that is) and I kept… I wanted to sit down and listen. I guess I’m a lazy f**k, but two guys playing acoustic, regardless, was very sit down for me.

KG and JB, rocking the acous”¦

“¦solo Jables action.

But then Jack announced they were going to go electric, promptly electrocuted himself and Kyle, causing them to wake up in Hell (on a giant back-lit screen, that is). In Hell they ran into the Anti-Christ, who they convinced to play guitar in their new band, and he in turn pointed out the he knew a bassist and drummer, Charlie Chaplin and Colonel Sanders, respectively. Second best jokes of the evening: Colonel Sanders, why are you in Hell? I killed over a million chickens. And Charlie Chaplin? I’m gay.

The band from Hell!

From then on the show was rocking, and worth standing for, as the backdrop fell away leaving an unreal stage set of Hell, with the kick-a*s drum-set from the finale of “The Pick of Destiny.” The back-up band (who I recognized mostly as being Trainwreck, the band Gass is in and constantly promoting with his yellow Trainwreck t-shirt, though the drummer was Brooks from Bad Religion) was amazing, and really brought that needed extra edge. As they rocked out the remaining D classics and PoD tracks, I thought that the evening couldn’t get any better. Which is when it went sour.

For some reason, and I’m hoping it’s because JB’s voice couldn’t do it last night (only excuse I’ll accept), the band lip-synced Master Exploder. And not well. The sound from the recording was weak compared to the live tracks they’d been playing all evening, so when they went into ME, and it was lip-synced, it just brought everything down. They then went back into the live act with the Beezleboss finale from PoD, but the lip-sync so sucked the life out of the theatre that the Beezleboss finale couldn’t elevate to the level it needed, and just suffered. Luckily the band’s encore ended the evening on a high note, rocking out F**k Her Gently (an entire theatre of guys singing along while their girlfriends hid is surreal), Tribute and, finally, Pinball Wizard and other bits from the Who’s Tommy. Yeah, they ended with Tommy, and you could tell the generation gap by looking around, as for every bobbing head of an adult or semi-learned music fan, there were about 50 confused faces. All in all, though, I liked that ending.

Once again, the back-up band was the real highlight of the evening, the turning point for me, with John Konesky as the Anti-Christ, Brooks from Bad Religion as Colonel Sanders and John Spiker as Chaplin on bass. Oh, and not to leave out J.R. Reed, who reprised his role as Lee, and additionally found his way to stage throughout the evening dressed up as the Metal, a giant mushroom and finally Lucifer. Reed’s dance moves will be with me always.

All told, it was a fun show, but that damn lip sync idea was such a mistake. I guess if this were a Jessica Simpson show, or children’s theatre, I could understand the showmanship being more important than the performance, but they had the band behind them that could pull that song off and… wasted moment. My hope is that, as I said, JB’s voice just couldn’t do it last night, but they wanted to include the song as it’s part of the overall show, so they made the lip sync call, but other shows on this tour will have the song performed live. The audience deserves live.

Speaking of that audience, it was populated with the geek-ery expected (I mean, I and Level2 were there so, obviously, high geek quotient) but also with a multitude of hot women (not expected), who spent the majority of the evening screaming for KG and JB. I looked at the stage, looked at myself and thought “if they can be sex symbols, by God what am I doing wrong?” Then I began thinking about how I was going to go home, write a blog about the evening, make sure the frontpage of FT was set for Valentine’s Day, maybe play a little Guitar Hero 2 and… what am I doing wrong? EVERYTHING…

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  1. Matt says:


    Charlie Chaplin! I couldn’t remember the other band member and your page is in third place on a Google search for “Colonel Sanders” Antichrist. Thank you.

    For what its worth, I saw this tour when it reached Birmingham (ENGLAND!) and the lip-synched Master Exploder was a real highlight. JB introduced it with something along the lines of “Let’s go back to how it was in the old days, just you and me!”, the synching was perfect as they strummed their acoustic guitars at the beginning, and then it just got successively weirder as Kyle played the electric guitar solo and JB stepped away from the mike. I guess they’d fixed the sound levels by then.

    Anyway. Thanks again.

  2. Mark Bell says:

    He’s not a rookie anymore, he more than carried his weight during Sundance so… he’s Level2. Plus, it has all types of dorky role-playing geekism to it…

  3. Mike says:

    Um, I am not sure if I am in the know, but I think the rookie’s new name needs to be changed. Level2?

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