Arriving at the second ever Festival Supreme, a music and comedy festival curated by Tenacious D, I was not sure what I was in for. As I walked toward the gate, lined with thousands of fans dressed up for Halloween as their favorite pop-culture characters, it was clear that this was not going to be a typical music festival. These people were more than down to have fun, rock, and most importantly, laugh.
The festival was moved to the grounds of the Shrine Auditorium this year. From what I saw and was told by many, it was much more organized than last year’s debut at the Santa Monica Pier. Everyone who entered first had to make their way through the Circus of Death, which housed various performances throughout the day. When I first arrived, there was this pretty cool Gothic clown performing opera. It was an eclectic gathering hall that looked as if it was pulled from a dream of Jack Black himself.
I made my way to the Phantom Stage inside the Shrine managed to catch the last few minutes of the legendary Dr. Demento, famed for groundbreaking and offbeat radio broadcasts. His style is common place today, but he really was ahead of his time. He is commonly credited for bringing Weird Al Yankovic to the masses.
I soon found myself outside at the Franken Stage watching DJ Lance Rock. It was actually a fun set to watch, which makes sense since Yo Gabba Gabba borders that made-for-kids stoner vibe. Characters Brobee and Toodee danced along and the crowd all seemed to be in an extremely happy mood for this set. A great way to kick off the afternoon!
Things started roll from here and the organization of the sets really became apparent. Kudos to the organizers! Next I watched the Tulsa Skull Swingers, a stomp surf band that performed in skull masks. It’s also noteworthy to mention that their drummer was Ron Lynch, who would perform later in the day. Then it was Awkwafina, a satirical comic rapper from Queens. Her style may not be for everyone, but it was entertaining watching her perform several raunchy tracks from her solo EP Yellow Ranger including one I specifically remember, “Queef”.
The Upper Crust was one of the highlights of the performers that day, and was introduced by Kyle Gass himself. They had this hilarious angle where all the members were dressed as 18th century aristocrats, wigs and all, and had this historically snobbish perspective to all their songs. They’re from Boston so all this makes sense, but they really rocked. Kinda like ACDC meets nobility.
The Kyle Gass Band was the next act I caught, and was the perfect follow up to The Upper Crust. They were honestly my favorite of the day, even more so than the mighty Tenacious D. “Good-time-rock-and-roll done right” is one statement that the band has used to describe their sound and that’s pretty spot on. The thing I liked about it was it was just as much about the supporting members of this supergroup as it was about Kyle himself.
I caught a bunch of standup performances back inside at the Phantom Stage, which was a nice change of pace. Doug Benson, Kumail Nanjiani, TJ Miller, Margaret Cho, and even Norm MacDonald who was in classic form. The auditorium was packed for all of these, and many I spoke with enjoyed the balance of live music, and then being able to take a load off to catch some actual comedic performances.
Broke off for a bit based on a friend’s recommendation to catch Ron Lynch performing a rather odd but hilarious magic set back at the Circus of Death. As I mentioned earlier, Ron was the drummer of the Tulsa Skull Swingers, but he’s most famously known for some of his voice acting (Home Movies and Tom Goes to the Mayor) and he hosts hosts a weekly musical and comedic variety show called Tomorrow! Louis CK claims that he owes his entire career to Ron Lynch.
The remainder of the day was largely about the music for me though. Caught the Nashville rock band, The Protomen, known for their concept albums loosely based off the classic video game Mega Man. They performed a pretty wild set, and set the tone for the rest of the evening. Next was The Aquabats, who are part rock band and part wanna be crime fighting superheroes, and they were dressed the part. They even had their own TV show, The Aquabats! Super Show!, created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz (Yo Gabba Gabba!).
Fred Armisen (Portlandia, Late Night with Seth Meyers) performed next and did a mix of standup combined with music. His set had that Portlandia vibe you might expect and he seemed extremely relaxed on stage. A mix of comedy and music, his set embodied exactly what Festival Supreme was all about.
One of the bands I really wanted to see was Eagles of Death Metal, founded by Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). Unfortunately Josh was not performing, but that didn’t change the fact that the Eagles of Death Metal rocked the house. It was clearly one of the biggest performances of the day.
From there it was Workaholics, who came out in character as their hip-hop alter ego The Wizards, performing off their album Purple Magic. It was a riot, but still I was hoping to see more of the characters themselves. Canadian electronic artist Peaches was next, performing a rather sexually explicit set. I can’t tell you that I particularly enjoyed it, but like a train crash, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I then caught a few minutes of Drunk History, but with time short, it was time to catch the act that most were here for.
Tenacious D fans crammed in at the smaller Gargoyle Stage hoping to get a good spot to see Jack and Kyle. It was at this point of the night that the energy was really felt in the festival, with fans chanting in anticipation. When the duo finally came to the stage, the cheers echoed through the grounds, our heroes had arrived! I had seen them before, but never this close. They were truly magnetic and I was in awe the entire time. Unfortunately, I missed Weird Al Yankovic taking the stage as I made my way to the next set, but I heard it off in the distance. I wish I could have seen that up close.
The final 3 acts of the festival wound things down nicely, starting with the reunion of The State (MTV – Kevin Allison, Michael Ian Black, Robert Ben Garant, Todd Holoubek, Michael Patrick Jann, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Thomas Lennon, Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Michael Showalter, David Wain). The legendary 70s/80s stoner duo Cheech & Chong performed next. While their material may not hold up compared to some of the modern acts, they really did set the stage for many of the comics performing today and their position as one of the festival closers was certainly fitting.
The grand finale of Festival Supreme, melodic death metal band Dethklok Metalocalypse (Adult Swim), who melted the faces of all who remained. It was a solid closer to the festival, and was everything you’d expect from a metal band. Lights, lazers, smoke, and loud as f*ck.
All in all, I was surprised how much I enjoyed festival supreme. It was a day filled with music and laughter, and everyone I spoke with or interacted was so nice. Jack & Kyle really did a great job curating this, and I hope this festival continues for many years to come.