May 31, 2007
The Glenside, PA concert was announced in early April along with Waterbury, CT and Albany, NY. It was still early to decide for certain, but those three dates sounded tempting to me as each were a good drive, but still close enough that I could sleep in my own bed at night.
I let my boss, Chris, know that I'd probably need a few days off that week, and he starting asking me about the concerts. Even though Chris works with me in Newark, NJ, he actually lives about a half hour west of Philadelphia, PA. The Keswick Theatre is only about 10 miles away from Chris's house, so he said if I was going to go, he'd consider it. I had been saving vacation days for this tour for so long that he had to see what it was all about. I asked him how familiar he was with "Weird Al" Yankovic's songography, and he said he knew all the big name parodies like "Fat" and "Amish Paradise," but wasn't aware that Al did originals. I gave him a copy of Straight Outta Lynwood and Poodle Hat, figuring with what he already knew, that would cover most of the concert setlist, and he wouldn't go in feeling lost.
Chris was still debating whether to go, when tickets went on sale, without notice, on the Keswick Theatre website. By the time I had discovered they had gone on sale, I was disappointed in what was left, but assumed that the better seats had sold quickly, so I bought the best available at that time for Jackie and me. It took Chris a couple more days to decide, and his indecision worked in his favor, because by then, there was a "presale" which had better seats than the ones I had bought. Chris and his wife Cyndi ended up in the third row. A couple hours later, Chris's friend, Bob and his wife Karen, decided to go. They ended up with fifth row tickets. So that was two couples who bough tickets days after I did and ended up with better seats.
The day of the concert, I had the day off, but Jackie had to work. Even with her cutting out of work early, I knew we'd be cutting it close, so I had the car all packed up and ready to go the minute she got here. To make it more difficult, the concert would be starting at 7:30. Jackie got here at 4:30, and my GPS estimated a two hour drive, so we had an hour cushion, with the possibility to get something to eat on the road.
As we start driving, I turned on the radio to get a traffic report, and every station came back with a 16-mile backup on the NJ Turnpike! On top of that, traffic was really heavy on the Parkway, so while it would normally take about 25 minutes to get to the Turnpike, it took us 45 minutes. The traffic reports kept getting worse and worse, and I was starting to panic. I knew if we sat in 16 miles of traffic, we'd miss the concert. I decided to bail out on the Turnpike and stick to the Parkway. I knew if I stayed on the Parkway, I'd eventually hit I-195 and could cut across to Pennsylvania that way. Unfortunately it was a really round-about way to get there, and would add a lot of time to our drive, but at least we'd be moving.
It turned out to be a good choice because traffic was light and I was able to make up some lost time by selectively choosing which speed limits signs to obey. I did keep it under 80 mph though. It was a little intense though, because it wasn't until we crossed the Pennsylvania border at a couple minutes past 7:00 that I knew we'd make it on time. As it turned out, we got there with about 15 minutes to spare, so that was enough time to get a snack at the snack bar, and quickly say hello to Dana and Chris, and give Mike a quick wave, before we found our seats.
The concert started with an announcement that because the show had sold so well, a second show would be added in August. There were no announcements regarding taking pictures, so I was cautiously optimistic that this would finally be the show where I could take pictures. As the concert started, it became apparent that almost everyone had their cameras out, and pictures were allowed, so I took mine out. I went a little overboard though, to make up for lost opportunities.
The crowd was great! Tons of energy! The band was high energy too. Except for one technical difficulty, which I'll get to later, and which they nicely recovered from, it really was a great show. One of the best I've seen this tour so far. The show was high energy, and the band looked like they were having fun.
Sticking to his alternating song pattern, Al did "Bob" tonight because someone went up to him before the show and asked if he could do a song where the lyrics are comprised entirely out of palindromes. When Al went into the audience for "Wanna B Ur Lovr," the crowd went wild. Even though we weren't very close to the aisle, Al motioned toward Jackie and sang the "I wanna be your anaconda and your heat seeking missile too" line to her. After, Al also climbed onto an empty seat in the row behind us to sing to someone else. When he got back up on stage, he put his hand inside his shirt and sniffed it.
The medley was unusual. Al started out fine with "Couch Potato," and "Do I Creep You Out," but then I could tell something was a little wrong. Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz started to play the drums for "I'm In Love With The Skipper," but Jim West just kind of stood there looking confused. Al looked over at Jon and Jim and then said, "Ladies and gentlemen, there is no reason to play this song. Radio, radio!" He then took off his Gilligan hat and red shirt and he and the band broke into a serious rendition of "Radio Radio" by Elvis Costello and The Attractions. It was very unexpected and caught me totally by surprise. As "Radio Radio" ended, he ran over to Rubén Valtierra and whispered something in his ear. He then ran over to Jim and did the same. I assume he was telling them the next song to do, which turned out to be "Headline News" with the new Britney Spears verse. From there they picked up the medley as if nothing happened.
During "The Saga Begins," Al stopped after the "That's where we found this boy" line to stare down someone in the audience. When Rubén played his little carnival music interlude between "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda," Steve started doing a little dance. At the end of the song, Steve and Al had their backs to each other playing their respective instruments, when they kept going lower and lower. Eventually both of them were on the stage lying on their back. Al then started to spin around on his back.
In "Smells Like Nirvana" when Al threw the water out over the audience, the cheerleaders started laughing. He appeared to throw the Nirvana cup towards Mike, but it didn't make it that far. At the end of the song, Steve threw his bass guitar very high in the air! Steve was very animated the whole night, more so than I usually see him.
During the intermission between "Fat" and the encore, a lot of people got up to leave, and a few went up and stood in the newly empty seats up front, or in the aisle. Security surprisingly didn't chase them away, and they stood the whole encore, being joined by more and more people. By the time the encore was over, the whole front half of the theater had moved up front, and were standing at their seats or in the aisle.
Al came out and welcomed us to the second half of the show, then performed "Cell Phones" and "Albuquerque." Most of the people who had moved up front were singing along as loud as they could and dancing during the whole song. He really went crazy with the guy who hadn't had a bite in three days, yelling "Ahh, ahhh, ahhh" over and over and over again. The next line where Al forgets his place, he motioned towards Rubén and Steve for help. Steve came over and whispered in his ears.
After the show, we met up with Chris, Cyndi, Bob, and Karen in the lobby. They liked everything, but Chris said a lot of his favorites, like "A Complicated Song," "eBay," and "Ode To A Superhero" were in the medley, and he had wished they were full songs instead. And they were all confused by "Albuquerque." I told them it was kind of a fan-thing, and made a mental note to get Chris a copy of the song. They had to take off, so we said our goodbyes and hung out with Dana and her friends and took a few pictures with them.
Right as we're getting ready to leave for the buses, we ran into Jon in the lobby on his way somewhere. He stopped for a while to chat. We learned from Jon that the sound technician had accidentally had Jim's cue on mute for "I'm In Love With The Skipper," so Jim never got the cue to start the song. According to Jon, once someone misses a cue, there's no way to fix it, so he had to stop playing. Al literally didn't know what was going on until he turned around and saw Jim wasn't playing. "Radio Radio" was one of several songs that they had practiced for such emergencies.
After chatting with Jon, we went outside to find the bus. Dana was a little worried that her father would be there to pick her up before she got a chance to meet Al. Her and her friends had skipped their prom to be there, and she was hoping to meet Al, as she had never met him before. We waited outside with Mike, and Dana got in touch with her father, and they decided to wait.
Steve came out and was mobbed by the crowd asking for signatures. Security asked him to move so they could clear a path for the stage crew to move equipment. Steve picked up a traffic cone and used it as a bullhorn to get the crowd to move. After the crowd thinned, I went over to say hi to Steve. I ended up talking to him for a long time. We grabbed a spot a little bit away from the crowd, and sat down and just talked. I told him he looked like he was having a lot of fun on stage, and asked him about his kids and llamas. He liked my Weird Al Star Fund iPolka t-shirt and asked to see his tattoo again. He said a new solo CD was recorded, and ready to go as soon as he finished the artwork on it.
Security came out and announced Al would sign autographs, but he wanted to go on the bus first, so they walked Al to the bus, and were mobbed by people following them and running to the bus. Security made everyone line up single file, and we ended up closer to the end of the line than the beginning. From where we were standing, we could see the television in Al's room on the back of the bus. The television was on, and a show on VH1 with Hulk Hogan in it was playing on it. Mike also pointed out that we could see Al's toothbrush.
Once we finally got to the front of the line, we weren't allowed any posed pictures, so Mike handed his camera to me, and I took a candid picture of him and Al. As I was walking up to talk to Al, he took one look at me, and yelled, "That's it, line's closed here!" and got up and pretended to get onto the bus. He was joking of course, but it was very funny, and totally caught me by surprise. I deserved it though for all the silly stuff I've made him put up with. I asked him if he would autograph a program from that night's show for Chris and Cyndi. While he was signing it, I let him know that we had mailed the application for the Walk of Fame, and that Vikki would be giving him some gifts on behalf of the Star Fund in San Diego. He said he liked the iPolka t-shirt design, so I let him know we'd make sure to get him one of those too.
Jackie was next and didn't want anything signed, so she just spent some time just talking to Al. Dana went up next and said hello to Al. She gave him a copy of her demo CD, and showed him an essay she wrote about him in high school. He gave her a slice of apple as a thank you. She mentioned to Al that she was skipping her prom to be there, and he was flattered.
After everyone had their chance to see Al, we said goodbye to Dana and Mike and went home. Because we hadn't had dinner, we were really hungry, so we stopped at a McDonalds at a rest stop in Pennsylvania. There were some really creepy people in there, so we didn't stay long. The 16 mile backup had cleared, and the rest of the ride home was uneventful.More Pictures!!!