In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about shows we’ve seen where the opener eclipsed the headliner.
I didn’t know a lot about Tenacious D when I first saw them in October 2000. Although the group’s self-titled LP didn’t actually come out until 2001, Jack Black and Kyle Gass had been kicking around Los Angeles playing shows since 1994. And while the duo’s self-titled HBO show launched in 1999, I didn’t have HBO (or YouTube or pirated video) until much later in life. So when I caught the D at a ridiculously stacked CMJ Showcase in fall 2000, it was because they were opening for Grandaddy, another band I wanted to see. And they played right after a then-surging At The Drive-In, who had just released the excellent Relationship Of Command. That had to be a tough act to follow, what with singer ATDI Cedric Bixler-Zavala throwing himself both into his music and all over the goddamn stage, but Black and Gass did it with aplomb—and minimal set-up. While Grandaddy did eventually come on and put on a hell of a show, that band just couldn’t compare with what had come before. (Bonus note: David Bowie was in the show’s VIP area, which was also fairly distracting.)
Tenacious D has always thrived because of its members’ charisma, and that wasn’t any different in 2000. Black and Gass were full of comic intensity as they tore through tracks like “Tribute” and “Kielbasa,” but I remember the crowd really got into “Double Team,” a song that had appeared on the group’s HBO show as “The Sex Song/Sex Supreme.” A straight-up plunge into selfish thoughts and dirty talk, “Double Team” is the kind of song that would have gotten a room full of non-drinking college radio snobs moving, even if that moving ended up being a little awkward.