Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Tenacious D

Jack Black and Kyle Gass whip out their ‘Kielbasa’

Rock gods arrive frumpy, bald, and without warning. They wear socks with thong sandals and they don’t need a drummer. They play “Rize of the Fenix” and stack more waters than beers along their monitors. They squat and squirm. They strum and squeal.

by Gary Miller

Tenacious D, the duo of Hollywood hero Jack Black and longtime buddy Kyle Gass, remains either the most musically inclined comedy duo or the funniest rockers a sweaty tent has ever seen or heard. Fun Fun Fun Fest’s Yellow stage crowd swelled well over capacity for their late-afternoon Saturday set – with maybe a couple hundred more left standing outside.

Inside, Black and Gass – strapped only with their acoustic guitars – dropped “Low Hangin’ Fruit,” “Deth Starr,” and the oft-requested “Kielbasa” (“Kielbasa sausage, your butt cheeks is warm”) amidst scat singing, self-parody posturing, and the general embodiment of every component of cocky rock stardom that the heroes they worship employ every night.

Gass, who could headline a comedy stage on the strength of his wardrobe – blue gym shorts, white tee, blue sandals, gym socks – couldn’t care less about who the hell’s in the house. Black, meanwhile, fiends on crowds like crack-cocaine. He plays off their energy like a maniac child, climbing aboard monitor stands thinking he’s Steve Perry and shaking his fingers at the crowd reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. This is the great paradox of Tenacious D. There’s an equilibrium in play that the two must maintain.

“The message of the D is to set the artist free,” Black and Gass sang at the beginning of “Cosmic Shame,” but their true identity shone through later on “The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage.”

All hail the Odd Couple.

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