Even before he took on the role of Barry, the high-strung record store clerk in High Fidelity, Jack Black was raring to rock. In the early days, it was the cultishly beloved Mr. Show that broke Black as a viable vocalist, and later, it was Show creators David Cross and Bob Odenkirk who cut Black’s band, Tenacious D, its first real break: a short-lived HBO series that barely made the on-air cut.
No matter, though. In the 15 years since Tenacious D the show had its plug pulled, the power duo of Black and guitarist Kyle Gass has gone on to conquer screens and stages across the globe with their in-your-face brand of comedic rock. Last month, the pair released their third studio album, and this Wednesday, May 23, they’ll take to the Santa Barbara Bowl for a night of hard-hitting, full-band–backed heavy-metal acoustica.
“What’s funny about it is it’s aggressively stupid,” Black told the AV Club earlier this year. “It’s not just stupid. It’s like we’re going super stupid on purpose until it turns into something really funny.”
For album number three, the aptly titled Rize of the Fenix, Black and Gass employ their furiously strummed guitars and big, bellowing vocals to reimagine themselves as heavy-metal heroes, inspirational anthems in tow. Black describes Fenix standout “To Be the Best” as a song that’s meant to “inspire you to do push-ups and sit-ups and run around like Rocky.” Meanwhile, hidden track “Quantum Leap” contains lines like these: “You’ve got to think outside the box / You’ve got to think outside the bun / If you want to be the magic one.”
“All those great ’80s rock things — there’s something so funny about that now,” Black told NPR. “No one’s really doing that particular brand of cheese, so we thought the world needed that right now.”
Tenacious D plays the S.B. Bowl on Wednesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. with openers The Sights. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for tickets.