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TENACIOUS D MIX BROTHERLY VIBES, ROCK AND ROLL, AND COMIC RELIEF IN AUSTIN (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

At a time when hurricanes are rapid-firing across the continent, nuclear war feels closer than ever before, and the news cycle spews a constant stream of vitriol, comic relief is a necessity to keep us sane. Tenacious D played Stubb’s on Wednesday night to a sold-out crowd that seemed to be clamoring to laugh together and blow off some mid-week steam. Not only did the show exceed expectations musically, but it also fostered a therapeutic sense of community, as everyone could join in what would become a massive sing-a-long for most of the show.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass stepped onstage and the crowd gave them an endearingly warm reception. Yet, it was evident by Kyle’s ‘Bald Santa Clause look’ with a large white beard, and the significant grey in Jack Black’s beard, that exposed Tenacious D’s creep to old age. However, as soon as they launched into their first song “Kielbasa,” their youthful energy showed through and any hang ups on the band’s age dissipated.

After watching the pure joy that consumes Jack Black when he plays his guitar onstage, you realize that Black is very much in his mind, a musician that happens to act on the side, and not the other way around. Playing through a surprisingly large catalogue of songs, the ‘D’ has a legion of dedicated fans singing along to every single word.

While around half of the songs in their set came from their classic debut album, Tenacious D, the other half was cherry-picked from a few other releases and compilations. Highlights from the set include “Dio”, “Tribute”, and “Double Team”, but it was amazing in how each song seemed to ignite excitement for big groups of friends and how they filmed on cell phones to send inside jokes to friends who were absent.

Blazing through a set of around 21 songs, Tenacious D was a well-oiled rock machine. The show peaked at the end of the main set where each instrument had a designated solo feature, each one more face-melting than the next. The encore was just as amazing with a rendition of “City Hall” that fixated on Trump’s presidency and was as hilarious as it was bombastic. “Fuck Her Gently” was the final song of the encore, which sent the large crowd on its way home with a smile on every face.

While critics might dismiss Tenacious D as a gimmick-band that relies on Jack Black’s antics to sell tickets, the reality is that the ‘D’ is one of the best rock and roll experiences that you can see live. The musicianship is at an elite level, while the atmosphere is as brotherly and congenial as it can get at a large concert. A respite from the troubling and harsh reality is what many of us seek, especially in times like these, and Tenacious D is the medicine that helps many of us get through.

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