Review: Weird Al enforces ‘Mandatory Fun’ into Eugene regiment

“Weird Al” Yankovic performing “Wanna B Ur Lovr” at the Cuthbert Amphitheatre on Friday, July 29. (Emerson Malone/Emerald).

In a little under two hours, Weird Al played thirty tracks, both parody and original, spanning his 33-year career. That, alone, is really something to behold.

There’s no single demographic that is drawn to Al’s music, as demonstrated by the vast array that came to the Cuthbert Amphitheatre for his Mandatory Fun tour on a punishingly hot evening on Friday, July 29. There were young children, like the kid who brought a mop to the costume contest in the VIP section and exclaimed “I’m the guy from UHF!” And slightly older fans, like the millennials who wore helmets made with Reynolds Wrap, a nod to Al’s song “Foil” or the adults who’d waxed and permed their hair and sported Hawaiian tees — a fashion statement that Al himself pioneered.

It was an audience so diverse and varied that the only unifying element must have been a strong adoration for Al. Anyone who’s exposed to the relentless ubiquity of pop radio hits needs a remedy. And Al has it in spades.

As Al’s backing band began their set, The LED screen above the stage showed Al wandering through the park outside the venue as he sang “Tacky”: “Now I’m dropping names almost constantly / That’s what Kanye West keeps telling me.” But the stage and the LED screen were still glaring with sunlight as he eventually made his way on.

Yankovic made it through “Lame Claim to Fame” and then told the crowd: “When I was organizing this tour, I asked my booker if we could have at least one place where the sun was shining directly into my eyes.”

Al regularly trotted off-stage while clips from film and TV played in the interim, including cameos, sketch comedy skits from Comedy Bang! Bang! and miscellaneous instances during which he’s been name-dropped in pop culture. This included scores of late night talk shows, game shows like @midnight and Jeopardy!, animated and live-action sitcoms (a clip from How I Met Your Mother shows Marshall reading his vows to his fiancé Lily: “I vow to finally stop petitioning Paul McCartney to let Weird Al record ‘Chicken Pot Pie’ to the tune of ‘Live and Let Die.’ It’s over,” he sighs. “I’ll let it go”), children’s shows including Adventure Time and My Little Pony, Al’s own Vine videos, and plenty more, including the fake Weird Al movie trailer from Funny or Die, featuring Aaron Paul as Al, among other celeb cameos.

Read on: We asked Weird Al if, after McCartney turned down “Chicken Pot Pie,” he felt like a bad vegetarian.

More than anything, it’s just impressive that one person can steep into our culture the way Al has. These clips were interspersed throughout the set, which gave Al and the band time to make one of their several costume changes, like the purple octopus jacket and ice cream cone hat during “Perform this Way” (a pastiche of Lady GaGa’s “Born this Way”) or the Robin Thicke á la Beetlejuice suit during “Word Crimes” (a take on Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”)

In one fell swoop, Al sprinted through “Party in the U.S.A.,” “It’s All About the Pentiums,” “Handy,” “Bedrock Anthem,” “Another One Rides The Bus,” “Ode to a Superhero,” “Gump,” “Inactive” and “eBay.” Then he and his band executed acoustic, doo-wop versions of “Eat It,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “I Love Rocky Road” and “Like a Surgeon.”

During “Wanna B Ur Lovr,” a saucy, grotesque come-on, Al sported a suit jacket covered in flame patterns, meandered into the crowd and hassled specific audience members with lines like, “I’ll bet you’re magically delicious / Like a bowl of Lucky Charms / You’d look like Venus de Milo / If I just cut off your arms.”

If there was any doubt beforehand, Al isn’t just a master parodist. He’s hilarious, no doubt; his songs continue to make me laugh out loud, even when I’m hearing them for the thousandth time over. But Al is respectable beyond his transcendent humor, his demanding stage presence, his unflappable confidence and excellent backing band. His shows speak to so many people because they’re so precisely choreographed and executed to flawlessness that he’s simply an excellent showman. Bravo.

During the encore, Al came out in Jedi robe regalia, accompanied by several stormtroopers and a Darth Vader for “The Saga Begins” and then Al and the band did “Yoda.” The latter spun out of control as the crowd sang the Ya-ya-ya-ya-Yoda hook, a parody of The Kinks’ “Lola,” which soon derailed into Oktoberfest beerhall chants (“Ziggy Zaggy, Ziggy Zaggy, Hoi Hoi Hoi!”) then, unexpectedly – and this is a testament to Al’s audacity –  “Crapa Pelada,” a track from the Italian quartet Quartetto Cetra, possibly better known for its morbid use in an episode of Breaking Bad.

Following the show, from the other end of Alton Baker Park, you could still hear a loud fan, screaming something at the top of his lungs that likely everyone could get behind:

“WEIRD AL FOR PRESIDENT! WEIRD AL FOR PRESIDENT! WEIRD AL FOR PRESIDENT!”

Setlist:

  1. Tacky
  2. Lame Claim to Fame
  3. Now That’s What I Call Polka!
  4. Perform This Way
  5. Dare to be Stupid
  6. Fat
  7. First World Problems
  8. Foil
  9. Smells Like Nirvana
  10. Party in the CIA
  11. It’s All About the Pentiums
  12. Handy
  13. Bedrock Anthem
  14. Another One Rides the Bus
  15. Ode to a Superhero
  16. Gump
  17. Inactive
  18. eBay
  19. Canadian Idiot
  20. Wanna B Ur Lovr
  21. Eat It
  22. I Lost On Jeopardy
  23. I Love Rocky Road
  24. Like a Surgeon
  25. White & Nerdy
  26. Word Crimes
  27. Amish Paradise
  28. We All Have Cell Phones (a reference to Al’s Michael Stipe interview)
  29. The Saga Begins
  30. Yoda

Listen to “Wanna B Ur Lovr” below.


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