I have always had sophisticated tastes. While other kids in my high school were wasting their time on flash in the pan musical footnotes like Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Nirvana, I was already appreciating phenomena like Tenacious D, Kiss, and the great “Weird Al” Yankovic. I had all of his albums, his movie UHF recorded from Comedy Central on VHS, and I even got to see him live when I was thirteen years old. Watching Weird Al perform “Fat” in full costume will remain the highpoint of my life until I win the lottery.
Back when he was just a shy, accordion-playing nobody, Weird Al got his start by sending his homemade tapes to the Dr. Demento Radio Show. Dr. Demento had clearly learned how to recognize talent back while he attended medical school, because Weird Al’s meteoric rise to superstardom would soon rock the world. Weird Al’s hit parodies including “Eat It,” “Like a Surgeon,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” and “Amish Paradise” are the anthems of our era, and “Albuquerque” is arguably the greatest song ever written, if not the longest.
Now the recipient of four Grammy Awards and biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time, Weird Al is enjoying his fourth decade as America’s foremost song parodist. That means he has earned the privilege of doing whatever he likes, which fortunately for us means coming to the Twin Cities. Weird Al’s current tour, which he has succinctly dubbed The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, is a departure from his usual style of performance. Rather than belting out silly renditions of other artists’ songs with the aid of with props, costumes, and video screens on a big stage, Weird Al and his band of three decades will perform their original material in smaller, more intimate venues.
“After 35 years of big productions, I just wanted to take it down a few notches and have a little musical palate cleanser,” said Weird Al. “This show will be loose, unpredictable, and maybe a bit sloppy — we’ll be making it up as we go along!”
Although Weird Al is best known for his parodies, he is in fact a master musician with an impressive oeuvre of original songs. It’s anyone’s guess what he’ll decide to play in Minneapolis. He may dust off his subtle, emotional masterpiece “Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars.” He may remind us all of the unsettling truth with “Everything You Know Is Wrong.” He just may melt our faces off with frenzied medleys of improvised polka, a genre of music which we’re desperately deprived of here in the Midwest. Whatever Weird Al gives us, however, it’s bound to be great. We may expect no less from the genius who penned classic diddies such as “Slime Creatures from Outer Space,” “Weasel Stomping Day,” and “Spam.”
Weird Al will play at Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis on April 3rd and 4th. Tickets are available at weirdal.com.
By David Scheller