In 1985, “Weird Al” Yankovic released his third album Dare to Be Stupid. I was eight years old, the perfect demographic for songs such as “One More Minute,” which featured lines about cleaning the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with your tongue and jumping naked onto a pike of thumbtacks. I knew “Like a Surgeon” was a parody of a Madonna song. I did not know that Weird Al aped the Kinks on “Yoda.” Nor did I know that the title track was written in the style of Devo. It didn’t matter. “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch” was hysterical and that was that.

Flash forward to July 2016. I am 39 years old, father of a two-year-old son who has already discovered the pleasures of “I Love Rocky Road.” Although I’ve already seen Weird Al twice before (including a facsimile of this show in Portland last year), the warmth and happiness his concerts bring to an audience is what drew me in this time. In front of me, reclining on the lawn at McMenamins Historic Edgefield Manor, waiting for the blazing sun to go down, was a friend of a similar age. Also a father, his kids call the musician we were about to see “Weird Owl.” My friend also just bought In 3-D on vinyl.

So what determines a Weird Al setlist circa 2016? Does the staying power of the originals dictate the selections? It makes sense that “Eat It” and “Fat” are still going strong because Michael Jackson’s music is ubiquitous. I can understand why Yankovic chose “Smells Like Nirvana” over something like “The Brady Bunch” (Men Without Hats was pretty obscure back in 1984), but songs such as “Amish Paradise” have outgrown their predecessors and Yankovic still plays them. Who the hell cares about Coolio anymore? (Yes, I know that “Gangsta’s Paradise” stems from a Stevie Wonder song.)

Seeing Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun tour a second time affords new opportunities. The first time, the surprise and joy of the costumes and the song selection carry you away. A second chance allows you to focus on the intricacies of the show itself. It’s quite amazing. Yankovic and his band go through numerous costume changes. The backing videos synch perfectly with the music. Once the show starts rolling, there is no room for error. Yankovic is a pro and three-quarters of his backing band have been with him since the early ‘80s (with the exception of keyboardist Rubén Valtierra who hooked up with Yankovic the early ‘90s).

There were so many moments from the show worth remembering. The sole woman standing in the seated section who danced, sang and chewed gum with equal vigor. All the kids, many of whom were only around when Yankovic’s last two albums dropped, basking in the ridiculous beauty of it all. The joyous smile my friend gave whenever he turned to share a particularly great moment with me. The idea that our kids would someday soon be old enough to see Weird Al in concert. And of course, Yankovic himself. Fifty-six years old and still spry, still going strong. In a year where we lost both Prince and David Bowie, Yankovic remains a surprising link to our youth for those of us who grew up in the ‘80s on a diet of music videos on MTV. If you haven’t seen the Mandatory Fun show, do yourself a favor and see Weird Al this summer. And if you have seen it already, take someone who hasn’t.

  • Yes, God, Yes

    This is not a raunchy sex romp a la American Pie but a sweet comedy about a confused girl …
  • Revisit: Matewan

    Matewan remains relevant as corporations and captains of industry continue to exploit work…
  • Relic

    Relic suffers from a crisis of identity, just like the story it sidesteps instead of fully…
  • Concert Review: Tool

    Thousands of concertgoers were unwittingly taking part in the last arena performance any o…
  • Concert Review: Refused

    The world still needs bands like Refused. Here’s hoping their next Portland show isn’t pre…
  • Concert Review: The Mountain Goats

    The act of playing three nights to sold-out crowds as a solo artist can be incredibly daun…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Yes, God, Yes

This is not a raunchy sex romp a la American Pie but a sweet comedy about a confused girl …