San Francisco's Warfield Gets Weird

Anna Vignet/Staff

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Weird Al" Yankovic has been showing up in some strange places lately. Not strange in the standard sense of the word (after all, Philosophy 101 dictates that a "Weird" man in a strange place is like an average fellow in a normal location, right?), but strange like "What's this juvenile songster doing round these parts of the blogoweb?" In other words, Al's been invading hipster havens lately. He covered a Pixies song (without any food jokes!) at a Pixies concert, had a recurring role on "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!," will be headlining the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, was the subject of a fake biopic starring Aaron Paul- from TV series "Breaking Bad" - and shared a Pitchfork headline with Godspeed! You Black Emperor when it was announced that the band handpicked the accordionista for their own shindig in the UK.

So where were the PBR-swigging, American Spirit-smoking masses at Tuesday night's "Weird Al" Yankovic concert at the Warfield? I blame the ticket prices. At nearly $40 a pop for the cheap seats, Darwinism weeded out the twentysomethings for a chance at two-plus hours of pure, unadulterated smiles the same way the University of California fees cut out the middle class (Bam! Relevance!). The audience was an all-ages bunch (All-ages - punks love that! Another penny for Al in the hip jar!) ranging from babies with isolation earphones to geriatrics with their hearing aids turned down. The old-timers had enough money to spend on a concert. The young'ns have adults willing to shill out for some laffs. It's only the starving students (and their starving, non-academic peers) who are punished.

And punished they were! "Weird Al" is brilliant. No, seriously; the man got into college when he was 16 years old. "Weird Al" is also very funny. If fat jokes and Star Wars references aren't your cup of tea, that's fine. The songs themselves are about the LVP (is Least Valuable Player sports terminology? I think that was my award at basketball camp) of the whole show. Other than maybe Kanye, Al's got the most elaborate stage show in the game. It's as much a performance piece as a rock concert, with video referencing Mr. Weird (he's everywhere!) as well as clips of his own design picking up where his stellar band leaves off. Al's in the business of smiles, and business was booming. Never have I attended a concert with an audience more in love with the performer than this. The Warfield exploded with high fives and excited recaps the minute the house lights turned on.

The show began with Al singing "Poker Face" by she-who-shall-not-be-named, and while it felt like a cheap grab at current relevance, it was one of the few moments where the musical reference might actually be understood by the 10-and-under male crowd that Al h8rs seem to think the entirety of his fanbase consists of. This doesn't mean Yankovic is out of touch, only that he plays his show to a more adult audience. His parodies of Coolio, Devo, Nirvana and MJ still get the biggest responses, and fake interviews with Madonna and a young Snoop Dogg got huge laughs from knowing spectators. Al isn't a clown, he's a friend nudging you with his elbow.

I guess I'm just not ready to succumb to the chastisement I receive every time the needle drops on Dare To Be Stupid and my housemates clear the room with a flurry of "This is music for 12-year olds." Al preached to a very accepting choir Tuesday night, but his lesson is still valuable - don't ever be too cool to enjoy yourself.

Eat a twinkie-weiner sandwich with Bryan at [email protected]

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