As cool as the lineup for Fun Fun Fun Fest today and tomorrow may be, the Friday night kick-off party was clearly for the nerds--former and current.
Chris Hardwick was intended to be the warm-up act for "Weird Al" Yankovic, but from my vantage (outside on the sidewalk, due to a delay in obtaining media credentials), it felt more like a wet blanket. Perhaps in an attempt to impress the crowd with his edginess, he made a point to throw out some F-bombs, calling it Fuck Fuck Fuck Fest. Clever.
"There aren't any kids here, are there?" he asked, as if he were opening for Neil Hamburger at a sleazy bar, not the PG-rated "Weird Al" at an outdoors park. Then it was on to dreadfully tired observations of redneck 'Merica in an exaggerated Southern accent. Ooh, take that, Cracker Barrel!
All was forgotten by the time "Weird Al" launched into a polka medley, a hilarious montage that included "Day and Night," "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)," "I Kissed A Girl," "Fireflies," "Pokerface," the crowd throwing halfway sincere devil horns in the air and laughing with recognition at each song.
The momentum died for a while during a pair of plodding non-parodies like "Frank's 2000 Inch TV" and the acoustic "You Don't Love Me Anymore," which included a running gag where he'd finger the strings as if getting ready to start playing, then sling the guitar behind his back without playing a note. The punchline: He smashes the acoustic at the end of the song, despite not having actually strummed a single chord. Maybe you had to be there.
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Those of us whose junior-high "Weird Al" obsessions were long in the past grew a bit restless during his newer songs like the "You're Beautiful" parody "You're Pitiful" and the Doors parody "Craigslist" (though the open letter to a snotty barista got some laughs of recognition); and yet, for every thirtysomething former dork, there was a younger, current dork singing along. And the new songs are probably just as funny as the old ones; they just don't carry the same cache of nostalgia. The Green Day aping "Canadian Idiot" had some laugh-out-loud moments even hearing it the first time.
During his costume changes--which came after almost every song--he played Al TV segments and clips of guest appearances on various TV shows and movies, even some that were just references to his name. People couldn't help but blurt out the punchlines of UHF clips and the video for "Fat."
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If the hands-in-the-air waving was ironic for "Amish Paradise" and "White And Nerdy," though, the singing along and fist-pumping for "Smells Like Nirvana," "Bad" and, of course, "Eat It" was almost heartfelt. But anyone expecting him to break character at any point during the night was mistaken. Yankovic never acknowledged the deaths of Kurt Cobain or the more recent passing of Michael Jackson, and didn't say a word about Devo's cancellation of their Sunday Fun Fun Fun headlining spot while he and his band wore Devo costumes during "Dare To Be Stupid." His place in this world, he knows, is cemented as a pop-culture nerd novelty act, not serious commentator. That was plenty for us.
Inner junior-high dork sated for the weekend, today has a ridiculously packed lineup with Os Mutantes, Valient Thorr, Devin The Dude, Wavves, Slick Rick, Monotonix, Dirty Projectors and GWAR--not to mention the triple headline threat of Bad Religion, MGMT and RJD2.