On Tour: Tenacious D | 08.02.19, Stifel Theatre

w/Wynchester | 8:00 PM | Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market Street | All ages | $32-$86.50

It takes a lot of patience to be a fan of the Greatest Band on Earth. Formed in 1994, said band—known to us mere mortals as Tenacious D—first rose to prominence with an HBO series that took two-and-a-half years to produce three episodes. The show helped the D gain a cult following, but it was singer Jack Black’s burgeoning career as a comedic film actor (first in High Fidelity, then in Saving Silverman and Shallow Hal) that really grabbed attention and made Tenacious D’s long in the works self-titled debut album one of the most anticipated of 2001. The album showcased the unique skillsets of JB and his partner KG (fellow comedian/guitarist Kyle Gass) to a T: ribald humor and operatic vocals that give an odd sincerity to the often bizarre lyrics sung over skillfully strummed acoustic guitars frequently punctuated with forays into heavy metal, aided and abetted in the studio by Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl on drums. Songs like the tongue-in-cheek slow jam “Fuck Her Gently,” the band’s proggy faux epic origin story “Wonderboy,” and “Tribute” (a song that is a tribute to the greatest song in the world, which Tenacious D once played in a duel with the devil but accidentally forgot) became fan favorites.

But as beloved as the band was, Black’s acting career was even moreso, thanks largely to his star-making turn in 2003’s School of Rock. It would be a grueling five year wait for a follow-up, which arrived in late 2006 as the album The Pick of Destiny and the feature film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The latter stumped critics and audiences accustomed to Black’s more traditional forays into comedy, and was widely considered a box office bomb. Undeterred, both Black and Gass continued to act until reuniting six years later for an album (Rize of the Fenix) and a tour. After another half dozen years, the duo made the surprise announcement: they had created their own sequel to The Pick of Destiny, to arrive in November 2018.

“Post-Apocalypto” illustration by Jack Black. Click to enlarge.

The result was Post-Apocalypto, a labor of love in every sense of the word. Seeking to work outside of the financial considerations of typical Hollywood studio fare, the band wrote, directed, voiced, financed (for a purported $58.93), and yes, even “animated” the movie themselves, with “Jables” himself hand drawing each of the 3000 still images that make up the film, which were then scanned and digitally colored.

And Post-Apocalypto is…something. Originally serialized as a six-episode YouTube series and later combined into an hour-long movie, it follows JB and KG after they dodge an H-bomb by hiding in an old Frigidaire and find themselves now living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of multi-headed dogs, sex-hungry cavewomen desperate to repopulate the world, and BJ-loving robots with human vaginas on a quest to steal the Crystal of Gilgamesh from Donald Trump, Jr. (Yeah, really.) It’s an hour packed with random, seemingly improvisational, almost entirely sex-based humor punctuated with songs and Black’s crude drawings that are filled with so, so many penises (and so, so many monsters that look like giant penises). To quote The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, Black’s penciling is sub-Ziggy and the main characters are off-model in every frame, but it fits the band’s surrealist spirit and the Adult Swim-esque, this-is-hilarious-if-it’s-really-late-and-you’re-really-stoned aesthetic of the gags.

The movie is fun, but it’s the songs that are really the payoff in Post-Apocalypto. The band is in familiar musical territory here, leaning toward acoustic ballads whose sonic sincerity is purposefully, hilariously undermined by lyrics about how a two-headed dog next to a rose inspires hope, or how JB can’t screw a bunch of foxy ladies to help repopulate the world unless he’s in love but, um, well, maybe he can, actually. There are songs about drinking “space juice mixed with gin” on an extraterrestrial adventure with Richard Branson and Elon Musk, the pains of being a murderous time-traveling robot, and you even get to hear the D warble their way through a bit of “I Want It That Way,” which is fun. This movie is pure Tenacious D, almost aggressively so. Given the DIY nature of the production, it may be the mostly purely “them” thing they’ve ever done.

But the important thing is, despite working as the plot framework for the weirdest, most phallocentric musical you’re ever likely to see, these songs are also killer Tenacious D songs, sure to slide right in alongside classics from the band’s oeuvre in a live setting. If you have yet to experience Post-Apocalypto (and it is, good or bad, an experience) and want to be prepared for the band’s upcoming stop at Stifel Theatre, you can stream the whole movie here. Probably shouldn’t do so at work, though. | Jason Green

Tour dates:

07.31 – Saint Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre

08.02 – St. Louis, MO @ Stifel Theatre

08.03 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza

08.04 – Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheater

08.05 – Atlanta, GA @ Coca Cola Roxy Theatre

09.28 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil @ Rock In Rio

10.01 – Bogotá, Colombia @ El Campin Stadium (with Foo Fighters and Weezer)

10.15 – New Orleans, LA @ The Fillmore 10.16 – Houston, TX @ Revention Music Center

10.17 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live

10.19 – Dallas, TX @ The Bomb Factory

10.20 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Criterion

10.21 – Tulsa, OK @ Brady Theater

10.23 – Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre

10.25 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic

10.26 – Reno, NV @ Grand Theatre

10.27 – Santa Barbara, CA @ Arlington Theatre

10.29 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern

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