At 51 years old, Weird Al Yankovic is still putting out music and touring extensively. This year’s Alpocalypse tour made its way to The Ryman Auditorium’s stage last Friday, and proved that he’s just as funny and clever as when he first released “My Bologna.”
Chock full of costume changes, skits, and rapid fire deliveries of Top 40 hits via polka medleys, Weird Al and his band not only kept their audience smiling and laughing from start to finish, but solidified why he’s an icon of popular culture.
After busting out with “Polka Face,” Weird Al’s recent polka medley featuring snippets of “Poker Face,” “Need You Now,” and “Womanizer,” he described how excited and honored he and his band were to perform at the historic venue. “I can’t express how honored we are to play The Ryman,” he said to a roaring crowd. “So many legendary people have played here—like Hoobastank.”
As the stage lights dimmed, a giant screen behind the band showed a mock interview between Weird Al and Eminem, pieced together to make it appear as though the rapper was being interviewed by him. In true Weird Al nature (and much to the audience’s delight), the interview made a total fool out of Eminem, but this was not to be the only musician to fall victim to his humor.
Sure enough, the familiar guitar riff to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” soon blasted through the sound system, and Weird Al went into his parody: “Smells Like Nirvana.” The night continued on similarly; he’d perform a song, cut to a skit of an interview with Robert Plant or Celine Dion, then emerge again from backstage dressed in an entirely different costume. The man has more costume changes than Britney Spears, but never loses his energy and chemistry with his audience. Perhaps the highlight of the entire concert was when Weird Al came out dressed in a tacky red suit with black zebra stripes to perform “Wanna B Ur Lovr,” walking out into the crowd and gyrating or dry-humping women.
More polka medleys were soon to follow, and watching Weird Al play his trademark accordion was almost as gratifying as seeing him do his most recognizable songs. However, that didn’t mean when he did play songs like “Canadian Idiot,” or “White and Nerdy” that people simply went nuts. In fact, Weird Al went as far as to roll out on a Segway during his classic parody of the Chamillionaire rap song.
The last half of his show was all crowd favorites, including “Amish Paradise,” Eat It,” and “Fat.” Each song was accompanied by Weird Al wearing the respective costume for that song’s music video; the Amish drab and beard for “Amish Paradise” and, amazingly, the fat suit for “Fat.” Even in the huge suit, Weird Al managed to jump around and dance like it was still the 80s. Few artists have stood the test of time as well as him, and people young and old still love to hear his hilarious remakes of Top 40 hits.
This was evidenced during his encore performance of the “American Pie” parody “The Saga Begins,” which recounts the plot of Star Wars Episode I from the perspective of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Along with a group of Storm Troopers and Darth Vader, Weird Al triumphantly worked through his version until no face was left without a smile.
Ending with his Kinks rework of “Lola” (called “Yoda”), he went into the crowd yet again seeking audience participation. When one person in the front row didn’t sing along, he stopped the entire song to perform the “Non-Participatory Death Chant,” an incredibly synchronized chant between the band that spanned about 2 minutes long, until finally the final chorus of “Yoda” came back. His weirdness is only surpassed by his genius, and if it’s uncool to like his music then consider me Screech.