May 21, 2011
It was one of those the-world-is-ending-today days that seem to pop up every couple of months, but for some reason this one was getting a lot of media attention. It was pretty much an uneventful day for me until the "Weird Al" Yankovic concert. The ground didn't open up and swallow me whole or anything like that. I just did some housework and relaxed in the Jacuzzi. But just as I was getting ready to leave the house to pick up Mom, the skies opened and it started pouring rain. Was I to be flooded to death? Nope, it stopped after about 15 minutes. I was spared. This time.
Anyway, I picked up Mom and we headed out. It took us less than a half hour to get there in traffic. It was not the closest Al's performed to my house, which was at Bamboozle back in 2007, and while a little bit further than the book signing in Ridgewood earlier this year. I can easily get behind this commute.
We had found the place without incident, but took a few minutes to find parking spot that wasn't marked reserved. I saw Penn & Teller here many years ago before they moved to Las Vegas, but this was the first time I've been back since. I picked up our passes, said hello to Nancy in the lobby, bought myself a "Craigslist" t-shirt, and then headed to our seats, third row dead center. Our general seating area was pretty packed with the regulars. Jeremy and James were in our row on the opposite aisles, and I saw Dan and Jared in the row behind us.
I chatted a bit with Jeremy while I waited for Adrian and Anne to arrive. He let me know that Al had been out on the train tracks earlier in the day talking to a New York Times reporter and taking some pictures. I'll have to keep an eye out for that article when it comes out. He also overheard Al telling a fan that he would sign autographs after the show by the bus, so it sounds like Al has some more free time now that he's handed off the "Perform This Way" video to post.
Anyway the concert started pretty much on time and the acoustics in this place were really good. After "Frank's 2000" TV", Al asked the audience if we were ready to rock. We were, but then Al confessed that since he thought the world was ending he didn't prepare anything.
Since we were at the halfway point of the show, he called for the drum solo, performed by Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, followed by a really good performance of "You Don't Love Me Anymore" where Al enthusiastically took out some frustration on his guitar by putting his foot completely through it.
The cheerleaders for "Smells Like Nirvana" were very enthusiastic. And except for the time that Al splashed me directly in the chest, I believe that was the wettest I ever got during this song. There was literally water dripping off my face, and I had to wipe my glasses dry.
There were some technical difficulties with the video clips in the early part of the show. The video screens on the left and center were in sync, but the video screen on the right was running fast. Finally during the Jessica Simpson interview clip, they blacked out the screen on the right.
That wasn't the end of the technical difficulties though. When Al came out for "You're Pitiful" the video and music started, then the screens froze and the music stopped. The server had crashed. Al looked around at the band for a second, then said, "There's no reason to do this song," and immediately broke into "Radio Radio." I've seen Al do this a few times before. It's his default go-to-song when something goes wrong, or he needs to buy time.
Since I knew the "Radio Radio" performance was much more energetic and demanding than "You're Pitiful," I was wondering if Al would do his usual striptease. He took his hood off, and then unzipped his jacket and took that off, but it wasn't until he took off his gold shirt that I got really excited because I knew we were in for a real unique performance. He had a little trouble taking off his shirts as they got caught up in the microphone, but he did get the whole striptease in, so I give him a lot of credit for going through that. I wish I had brought out my camera for this, but I was enjoying it too much to do so. Before Al left the stage, being the perfectionist that he is, he apologized to the audience.
To date, tonight was the best performance of "Perform This Way" so far. The audience was really getting into it. In fact, the whole show the audience was awesome, but I would expect nothing less from Jersey. And Al looked a lot more relaxed up on stage, like he had a big weight lifted off his shoulders.
Al was so enthusiastically getting into the Jim Morrison character during "Craigslist" that as he was spinning around, he crashed into Jim West's microphone, knocking it over, and tumbled to the stage floor. It looked like his back might have landed square on the microphone stand, but he got right back up and continued. He left Jim to pick up the pieces and set his microphone stand back up, all while continuously playing guitar.
Steve Jay was having a lot of fun during "Amish Paradise." One time I looked over at him and he had his hat cocked and was kind of doing a weird pose. My mom and I both saw that at the same time and laughed.
Ruben Valtierra really had the crowd going during the beginning of the encore. He would make us cheer as loud as we could, then slash his arms indicating for us to stop. It didn't take us long to catch on, and each time he did it, it got louder and faster.
There were six biker scouts, and, of course, Darth Vader, on stage for "The Saga Begins." My favorite part of the song came during the lyrics where Al sings that the battle droids were broken. All of the biker scouts simultaneously raised their guns in the air and gave a little cheer. Very cute!
In addition to the server problems, and Al's little fall, the lighting was pretty bad for most of the show. There were a lot of little things here and there that were off. For example, Al and the band were lit when they shouldn't have been, or not lit when they should have been. At the end of the encore, when the lights went entirely off as the confetti cannons went off, and pretty much stayed out until all the confetti had fallen.
After the show, Adrian, Anne, Mom, and I waited around for the theater to clear out a bit, then the four of us were directed to head to a little room off of the lobby where Al would meet with pass holders. When we got to the room, it was already pretty full with pass holders, mostly record label people due to the proximity to New York City, and theater volunteers. They had us separate into two groups, the pass holders on one side of the room, and the volunteers on the other. I half expected a dodge ball game to break out, with the winning team getting to meet Al, and the losing team left to lick their wounds.
Finally Al came out to a big cheer and decided to take the volunteers first, followed by the pass holders. This gave us some time to talk to Jon. Again, he thanked me for giving him Jackie's pictures from last tour, and told me he had copied them over to his laptop, so he said he would run out to the bus to return the CDs, so that Jackie could have a backup copy. I gave him an article which had run in the Sunday newspaper. It had a nice large picture of Al, which Jon let us know was from the new album artwork. He said the album artwork would be apocalyptic in nature, but also include some normal pictures. It would also include a 20 page booklet.
Finally my mom and I went over to talk to Al, and he immediately gave my mom a hug and talked to her for a while. I let Al know that the Verona, NY concert would be my 100th show, and he said that he was also excited for that show, because they were getting a brand new server they would debut at that show. Basically the server sounded really expensive, and pretty much can't ever crash, so it should be the end of any server related technical difficulties. Al was really excited about that.
Al signed Mom's pass, and then asked us how we liked the "Perform This Way" performance. My mom said she really liked the peacock costume, and Al said that he probably would change things up after the video comes out. He conceded that the peacock costume is very limiting for him. His grand vision is to have everyone on stage wearing a different costume. He was thinking, once all is done, the peacock costume might end up on Jim.
We didn't want to hold up the line any longer, so we asked for a picture, said our goodbyes, and I took over as official photographer for Adrian and Anne. They had their Alpocalypse poster signed and Al said that was the first one he's signed, so he personally numbered it, #1 / 1,000,000. After Adrian and Anne had their time with Al, we headed out together, followed by a security guard who let us know he was on his way down the street to the bar for a few shots before calling it a night.
When we got outside, the line by the bus was long, so I guess word spread that Al was signing. It felt too early to leave, but also nice to know I would be home by midnight. I had a great time, and I know Mom did too.
You can click on the highlighted words above and below to see more concert photos.
Some pictures courtesy of Adrian Vazquez.