Gambling, 42-cent... Margaritas, and Biker Rallies

The Pioneer Center
Reno, NV
September 24, 2004

The Pioneer Center

I decided pretty close to last minute to go to another "Weird Al" Yankovic concert before the Poodle Hat Tour ended for good, and presumably Al would not be touring until his next album. It just didn't feel right not seeing the band one last time.

I pretty much had Reno on the radar screen as a possibility, but since Street Vibrations, a big motorcycle rally bringing over 20,000 motorcycles to the city, was going on that same weekend, all the hotels were booked. So, when it turned out that Diva had gotten a hotel room at the Atlantis Casino and needed people to fill it, the possibility became more of a reality. Amazingly, when I checked to see if tickets were still available, two great seats, front row, one seat off of on the center aisle were available, and the decision pretty much became a no-brainer.

I would have liked to stay a little longer in Reno, but we were lucky to even have a place to stay for one night, so we went with it. The morning of the concert, Jackie and I took a plane out of Newark to Reno, stopping in Phoenix on the way.

We landed in Reno at around 3:00 and I called Vikki to get an estimate on where she was. She had literally decided last minute to go to the concert, and drove from the San Diego area to be there. I was thrilled when she decided to go and I was excited to get see her again.

But alas, it would have to wait a little longer because she was still about 100 miles away. Jackie and I were starving, since by now it was way past dinner for us, so we dropped our stuff in the room, ran into Diva, and headed to get something to eat at one of the restaurants in the casino and then take a nap before the show.

At the Trump Marina concert in Atlantic City, I discovered this fun little slot game called Lucky Larry's Lobstermania. It turns out that the Atlantis Casino has it as well, so I took my chance on it. Larry got the best of me that time, but I knew we'd meet again.

Once Vikki finally got arrived, we had enough time before the concert to catch up and hold an official Weird Al Star Fund board meeting. We went over to the venue, which was literally in the middle of a bike rally. It was kind of cool to see all the bikes there.

There was some confusion at the will call window, and they ended up having to print tickets as I waited, but in the end everything worked out. No new merchandise, but I wanted to get a few last minute things for myself and Adrian and Anne. They didn't have the Al TV shirt Adrian wanted, so I ended up calling him and he settled on a baseball jersey and a shirt for Anne instead.

We ended up sitting right as "Fun Zone" started playing. I was sitting next to Karen, who was on the aisle, and Jackie on my left. Diva, Carole, and Linda were a few seats away on the same row. There was a little orchestra pit between our row and the stage.

It was a high energy show. We had a decent view of everybody in the band. After "Angry White Boy Polka," Al said that "Reno is the city of gambling, 42 cent... margaritas, and biker rallies." The crowd, with quite a few bikers in attendence, cheered loudly after that.

"Party At The Leper Colony" followed, and during "Your Horoscope For Today" security asked us to put away our cameras. I didn't mind too much, as if forced me to sit back and enjoy the show. Al kept pickimg on a guy in the front row during "A Complicated Song." The guy actually took his cell phone out of his pocket and showed Al that it wasn't on.

When Al introduced the band, he neglected to introduce Rubén Valtierra. During "Melanie," Al said that "Jim West will do a guitar solo while I pelt him with broccoli." Then Al took brocolli out of his pocket and proceeded to throw it at Jim. Very funny! Jim went on to appropriately request "Let Me Be Your Hog" as the request song before "One More Minute."

"One More Minute" brought Al into the audience. He sat on Karen's lap and gave her a scarf. Then he walked further back into the audience and gave someone else a second scarf. He walked back onto the ledge directly in front of us, and gave his underpants to Jackie. Once again, sitting next to me during this song pays off.

"Dog Eat Dog" was okay. Ed, the stage manager, was walking around the orchestra pit. During "Wanna Be Ur Lovr" Al went back into the audience. He sang to Karen, and once again walked on the ledge in front of us and sang to Jackie.

For the first time, I got to see Ed dressed as Spider-man during "Ode To A Superhero." A very nice touch! The rest of the show was high energy, but mostly the same as other concerts I've seen. During "Yoda" Al said we were "pathetic" when he asked us to sing.

After the show, the place cleared out in record time, except for a few people down front who stuck around. Steve Jay came out and started talking to Vikki and others he knew. At that point, Skip, Al's tour manager, called my name, and asked me to come to the stage. As a I made my way over, Steve stopped me and told me if I wanted to pass, I'd have to mud wrestle him!

Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz rescued me from what would have obviously been a strange wrestling match. Jackie and I followed Jon, and once we were out of the theater, he gave me some posters, flyers, and a shirt he had been saving for me.

Jon took us to see Al. I had some artwork to give Al for Weird Al Star Fund. I showed him the cover art for the 2005 calendar, and a sample page from the calendar. He commented that it was really good.

Al, Jon, and I chatted for a little while, and soon Jim and Steve showed up. Steve asked me to see my tattoo, and I got a picture with Steve and the tattoo. I asked Al and Jim whose idea it was to do request songs, and Al said that they had some predetermined songs that they would do, but it was Jim's decision as to what song he would request. Usually they didn't know what song they would do until Jim requested it.

Al told me a few songs they would certainly cut for the next tour, and he was counting on the new songs on the next album to be strong, as many of them would show up in the next tour. They were also trying to work out a way to mix up the last few songs, since they had pretty much been the same for the last 10 years.

Steve, Jim, and Al left to go see The Doobie Brothers, who were also playing nearby that evening in Reno as well. Rubén showed up, and Jon, Rubén, Jackie and I made MST3K-type comments on a "Godzilla" movie that happened to be playing on the TV in the background. Poor Rubén doesn't get the respect he deserves. I haven't really had much interaction with Rubén over the years, but after this evening, I have a new respect for him. He really is a classy guy. As, of course, is everyone else in the band.

Finally we had to go so we could catch our ride back to the hotel. We were dead tired, but also hungry and not anxious for the evening to end. Everyone stopped at the Purple Parrot diner in the Atlantis for a late night dinner.

The next day Vikki, Jackie and I slept late and hit the lunch buffet and some Lucky Larry Lobstermania machines. This time I got the best of Larry and won on all four machines I played!

Unfortunately it was time to go, so Vikki drove us to the airport so we could say goodbye. At the airport I found one last Lucky Larry's Lobstermania game. And this time I broke the machine! Seriously, I had to call an attendant over to pay me my winnings, all $9.65 of it. Haha!

The concert and whole trip out there was fun and worth it. And for certain, I'll be seeing Al again as many times as possible in ... THE FUTURE!

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