On Tuesday night at Stage AE, Tenacious D played the longest encore set I've ever seen.
Then again, the duo did walk off after the second song with Jack Black (aka JB) returning to holler, "You want some more?!"
There was even a brief spat over the need for such early set drama that led to his partner, Kyle Gass (aka KG or Kage), declaring "Sorry Pittsburgh, I quit" and exiting again. Of course, it was the perfect set up for crowd chants of "We want Kage!" and his quick return part way into the woeful "Dude (I Miss You)" and "Kyle Quit the Band."
Kage is clearly a vital part of Tenacious D for his rock star looks -- bald, fat and wearing a white T-shirt the size of a twin bedsheet -- and his tenacious acoustic guitar chops, which would be welcome in any band anywhere. Well, almost.
With JB obviously between movie shoots, the Grammy-nominated duo is out on the comeback "Rize of the Fenix" tour, a run that is stripped down to acoustic guitars and bereft of production values. Stonehenge and lasers might be pricey, but the star of "King Kong" and countless other films can afford a backdrop, can't he? All they had was a cabinet containing some water bottles and a few Terrible Towels they used to wipe off the sweat (if someone briefed them on Myron's rules, they'd did not oblige).
The D compensates with hilarious interplay and satirical acoustic metal, led by the "School of Rock" star whose falsetto vocal can soar straight up to the heavens, though maybe not during an indoor show. (By the way, it was among many sold-out shows at the 2,500-capacity Stage AE, but that was place was PACKED, probably because the D does not stand for "dainty," and neither are the fans.)
Back to his voice. At one point, he declared that he was about to "break off a chunk of genius," and what that genius is, is having absolutely no filter on his inhibition gene. What you might do only in the shower or in your car with the windows rolled up, Jack Black does in front of thousands of people. Along with his Dio-style wailing on songs like "Roadie" and his brilliant cover of Led Zep's "Rock and Roll," late in the set he broke off ridiculous metal scat vocals on "Double Team" and "Cosmic Shame," which came with a funny rap about quitting your minimum wage job and moving back in with your mom for the sake of your art.
Sometimes the lyrics carried the ball, as on the tragedy-to-redemption tale "The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage" and the even more inspirational "To Be the Best," which, in a perfectly ridiculous world, would be the Olympics theme song. Or maybe the Pirates'.
This was the first appearance here by the D since being the low men on an X-Fest lineup in Burgettstown back in 2002. This time all signs were good from the moment Mr. Black woke up.
"I was looking out my hotel room window," he noted, "at the skyline of Pittsburgh ['the Mighty Pittsburgh,' as he also said], and the sun was just coming up and there was a red cross on top of the hill by the incline and I said, 'This town knows how to rock!' "
Well, Tenacious D didn't have a lot of tools at its disposal other than acoustic guitars (oh yeah, and the guy in the Sasquatch suit), but when JB declared before the real encore, "Let there be no denying you've been rocked tonight!" there were no denials from the people packed like dinner rolls in the North Shore club.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg. First Published March 6, 2013 5:00 PM