August 11, 2015 “Weird Al” Yankovic Non-Stop Fun At The Paramount Huntington, NY 8-1-15
When the man born Alfred Matthew Yankovic, at the age of sixteen, handed radio personality Dr. Demento a cassette tape in 1976 of original and parody songs taped in his bedroom, no one could have possibly imagined the ride it would take him on. “If there hadn’t been a Dr. Demento, I’d probably have a real job now,” quipped Yankovic, years after the moniker “Weird Al” had been given to him by fellow students at California Polytechnic State University, where he would serve as a DJ for KCPR, the university’s radio station. Since then, he has been a four-time Grammy Award Winner, become a household name, and Weird Al continues to release highly touted albums, as well as tour regularly. Continuing changes in the musical landscape as new artists and genres emerge have allowed Weird Al to continue to grow.
As the years have progressed, Weird Al has continued to release albums regularly. His most recent album, Mandatory Fun released in July of 2014 continues many of Weird Al’s trademarks, from his hilarious parodies to his enjoyable medleys that encompass the biggest current hits from a variety of genres. Throughout the years, countless shows, movies, and other media outlets have referenced or featured Weird Al as a joke within the show. Now, joined on stage by Ruben Valtierra (Keyboard), Jim West (Guitar), Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz (Drums), and Steve Jay (Bass), Weird Al brought his one-of-a-kind act to Huntington, New York’s The Paramount on Saturday August 1st to the delight of fans throughout Long Island. With his music spanning generations and his parodies of many genres, the sold out crowd at The Paramount was as mixed as ever. Fans young and old, from various walks of life filed in together, jubilant about the common artist that bound them all together. Before the show had begun, the crowd cheered along and one fan even took his seat in full Amish attire to a sports stadium-esque “Jebediah!” chant, setting the mood for the evening.
As the lights dimmed and various short clips began to play on the large screen behind the band, anticipation built for Weird Al’s first appearance on the stage. The familiar tune of Pharrell’s “Happy,” parodied under the title “Tacky,” began to play on the loudspeakers as Weird Al was shown on screen with an appropriate attire to match the theme of the song. It soon became evident as he sang into the camera that this was not a pre-recorded video but one taking place as the Huntington crowd eagerly anticipated his arrival. Sure enough, Weird Al soon made his way into the theater, not from the stage, but from the same entrance the fans had used before him. Making his way through the crowd as he continued to sing, sound and video crew in tow, this entrance set the tone for the rest of the night. The tone being one of an interactive, fun show that fans would remember for a long time.
Weird Al would move on with another track off of his 2014 release, Mandatory Fun, as he segued into “Lame Claim to Fame.” With exaggerated dance moves and an electric atmosphere, Weird Al continued to humor and entertain those in attendance. With the crowd pumped up, Weird Al reached off stage for a moment and returned with his trademark accordion. As he lifted it into the air, the crowd cheered. “Who’s ready to Polka,” Weird Al screamed into his microphone before continuing with “Now That’s What I Call Polka!,” as the appropriate music videos playing on screen and he covered a variety of popular hits in Polka form.
Leaving the stage for the first time of many, multiple clips of Weird Al’s notable moments were shown on the monitors. This would be an ongoing theme throughout the night, giving Weird Al and his band time to change outfits while treating fans to moments from a variety of media outlets where he had been mentioned or appeared. Items such as his appearance in Scooby Doo and Epic Rap Battles of History as Sir Isaac Newton were covered along with clips from shows such as Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother, in which his name had been mentioned in some light. Clad in an outfit part melted ice cream cone, part octopus, with a touch of pink leopard print leg warmers, Weird Al returned to stage with his band dressed just as ridiculously. Having already played some tracks off his most recent album, Weird Al dove a little further back to 2011’s release of Alpocalypse with his parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way,” parodied as “Perform This Way,” before leaving the stage once more. With the stage now lit green, and the band dressed in outfits resembling the great band Devo, Weird Al brought the crowd to near the beginning with “Dare to Be Stupid” off his third album release from 1985 under the same name. With goggles and radiation suit on, Weird Al commanded the audience from behind his keyboard.
As more videos played on the giant screen between songs, a familiar video soon played. As the first few moments to one of Weird Al’s most successful hits, “Fat,” played, the crowd quickly realized that the parody of the late, great Michael Jackson’s “Bad” would be the next track they would get to sing along with. Dancing on stage with surprising ease, outfitted in a fat suit, Weird Al had the crowd playing along with his every dance move. As he hit the ground from every jump, the crowd followed suit by jumping out of their chairs as if the musician’s sheer weight had caused their chairs to shoot them upwards. Following up with newcomers “First World Problems” and “Foil,” Weird Al continued to humor the joyful crowd with the latter having a full deli-like stage set up that gave him props to play along with.
Weird Al would then bring many back to the golden age of Grunge next with the successful “Smells Like Nirvana.” Dressed as Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, he brought back the classic, with lyrics that no one can understand. As two cheerleaders danced along on stage, Weird Al headbanged and thrashed on stage, stopping to drink and gargle some water before throwing the rest into the crowd. Paying homage to his own history next, Weird Al played a medley of his own hits including “Party in the CIA,” “It’s All About the Pentiums,” “Another One Rides the Bus,” and “Gump,” among others, before playing “Ebay” in full to the delight of the fans.
Another Rock classic would be parodied next as “Canadian Idiot” became the next hit on Weird Al’s agenda. Clad in a very Canadian outfit, the parody of Green Day’s “American Idiot” playfully jokes around about Canadian culture. As the song neared its end, red and white streamers shot into the unexpected crowd. The level of interactivity with the fans grew tenfold as Weird Al went into the Beck-inspired “Wanna B Ur Lovr,” as he walked into the crowd. Seducing fans with lyrics like “I wish that I was cross-eyed girl, so I could see you twice” and “Your eyes are even bluer than the water in my toilet,” Weird Al sat on the laps and got in the face of many members of the audience. Getting up close and (maybe too) personal, the crowd ate up the moment to become part of the show. The band next slowed the feel down a little with an acoustic medley, once again piecing together some of Weird Al’s major hits from over the years. Favorites such as “Eat It” and “Like a Surgeon” were introduced as the acoustic guitars created an intimate feel to the tracks.
After a short break ended with Weird Al’s appearance on NBC’s hit show 30 Rock, Weird Al returned to stage riding a Segway as the song “White and Nerdy” began to play around him. Wearing a du-rag, he played the hit parody off of his 2006 Straight Outta Lynwood release. He would go on to play the more recent “Word Crimes,” a sure favorite for the grammar nerds of the world before the band closed with the very popular “Amish Paradise.” As the band wore their Amish attire, the fans in attendance joined in by swaying their arms back and forth. Weird Al would even pay homage to James Brown during his exit, as a silver blanket was thrown over him while he delivered a fairly spot-on impersonation.
Knowing there would be more on the horizon, the crowd came to their feet cheering the amazing performance thus far whilst anxiously awaiting his return. It would be Keyboardist Valtierra, wearing his finest Jedi Robe, that would rejoin the stage first, however. With the crowd growing deafening, Valtierra used this opportunity to engage them in a cheer-off between one side of the theater and the other. As the rest of the band made their way back to the stage, in robes as well, they were joined by an army of Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers and the Darth Vader himself, and Weird Al made his way out from behind the ground-force of the Galactic Empire. Paying tribute to a video that played earlier in the evening, Weird Al opened his encore with “We All Have Cell Phones,” prompting the crowd to reach for and raise their cell phones, lighting up The Paramount.
With the Star Wars stage set, it surprised no one and entertained everyone when the band lifted off into “The Saga Begins.” The crowd sung along with every lyric to the 1999 parody of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Weird Al is not the only one who can be heard singing this parody as McLean himself has admitted that has had the song played so many times he has accidentally begun singing Yankovic’s parody while live in concert. Closing the set with “Yoda,” Darth Vader drew his lightsaber and waved it in the air. The band took a short break during the song to joke around with a few various humorous sound effects, enticing the crowd to play along. As the band thanked the crowd and said goodnight, everyone slowly filed out of The Paramount to one more surprise. Continuing with the Star Wars theme that had closed the show, a life-size R2-D2 could be seen in the lobby, posing for pictures with fans and rolling around to the surprise of many. The mixed crowd continued to be as ecstatic as ever, making their way out into the streets of Huntington.
Weird Al’s live performance is just as outstanding and intriguing as the man himself. With concert dates continuing through late September in The States before heading overseas to Europe, and later Australia, Weird Al gives fans a chance to see a show that is unparalleled. As shows sell out quickly, it is in all fan’s best interest to get their hands on tickets as early as possible to catch all the fun. With the album Mandatory Fun reportedly being announced as his final studio album and rumors swirling, fans will no doubt have to stay tuned to learn what is next for the uncrowned King of parodies.