Alpocalypse Now

2011-07-11 19:08:58
Did you go to this show?
Don’t forget that admission to the
OC Fair is free when you attend a concert.
Although the Fair was not yet up and
running at the time of this show,
you can return with your ticket between
July 15 and Aug. 1 for free Fair admission.

The speakers seemed as loud as they could go – the drum and keyboard spitting out a beat so intoxicating that thousands of arms belonging to a packed Pacific Amphitheatre of platinum blonde soccer moms and blue mohawked rebels alike waved in unison as a band of men dressed head-to-toe in traditional Amish attire rapped about their supposed homeland. Only one man could be responsible for such a scene, and his name is “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Despite the lack of carnival rides at the OC Fair & Event Center on this July 9 pre-Fair inaugural show of the Alpocalypse Tour, fans donning their favorite Hawaiian shirts stretched down a line well into the parking lot. Although this parody artist’s performance featuring bubbles, confetti and costume changes galore seems to be a silly contrast to the superstar names coming to the Fair throughout the summer, “Weird Al” may prove to be the most socially relevant act in the entire lineup.

In the coming months, old favorites from Chicago to B.B. King and tween sensations such as Selena Gomez and Neon Trees will attract avid fans to the venue, but it will be surprising if any of these acts are as successful at seriously entertaining the wide array of generations and musical preferences that Yankovic brought together at what he playfully referred to as the sound check for his upcoming tour. In fact, Bob Dylan, who performs at the OC Fair’s opening night on Friday, July 15, may find it difficult to follow the act that satirized him on the same stage less than a week earlier. As Yankovic threw cue cards asking questions like, “May a moody baby doom a yam?” in his video parody of Dylan’s Don’t Look Back projected on large screens above the stage, he brought up an interesting point: While Dylan is more of a symbol of the social unrest he stirred up in the 1960s than cutting-edge performer these days, “Weird Al” has been consistently delivering commentary on pop icons for the past 30 years. Unlike Dylan, Yankovic’s brand of controversy has proven to be pure fun at every moment.

Nowhere was Yankovic’s influence over pop culture more clear than in a montage of video clips from popular television programs mentioning the performer that played throughout the show. From the "Jeopardy" clip that opened with Yankovic’s arrival on a Segway to perform “White & Nerdy” to "The Simpsons" blurb in which Homer states that “He who is tired of ‘Weird Al’ is tired of life” to the unfortunately fictitious “We Are the Pizza” benefit concert mentioned on "30 Rock," Yankovic’s presence in our society is undeniable.

While “Weird Al” went through the catalog of classics from the Michael Jackson spoof “Eat It” to his encore performance of “The Saga Begins” (complete with what may have been the entire cast of Star Wars), his new material proved to be as crowd-pleasing as ever. Between his government-critical “Party in the CIA” to the Doors-esque “Craigslist,” Yankovic affirmed that he can still pack a mighty punch and leave the crowd giggling uncontrollably in the process. But what was perhaps the most anticipated performance of the evening was the Lady Gaga parody “Perform This Way.” Although Yankovic’s face superimposed on a scantily clad female dancer in the music video for this first single from the Alpocalypse album was entertaining if not a little disturbing, his live performance in an oversized peacock costume was a welcome and thoroughly hilarious sight. Polished off with a guitarist dressed as Swiss cheese and a drummer rocking a nun’s habit, the number did not disappoint.

From old classics that have practically become sing-alongs over the years to new songs channeling today’s number one singles, “Weird Al” provided the incredibly assorted audience that filled the Pacific Amphitheatre with a good two hours of pure entertainment. He may not have the most golden voice or agile dance moves, but Yankovic sure can put on a show.

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