We went to the Weird Al Yankovic concert in Coquitlam this past weekend, and while the show itself was a blast, something was definitely wrong with the audience.
Oh sure, everyone in the house was into Al’s schtick – we all waved our cellphones in the air during the cellphone song, and everyone joined together to help him belt out “Yoda” – but there was something significant missing from the crowd.
That something was colour – colourful Hawaiian shirts, to be precise.
Counting myself and my wife, there were perhaps two dozen – no more – of us in the crowd garbed in Hawaiian shirts of varying degrees of tackiness and loud colour. Traditionally, this attire is a must for any Weird Al concert. But not anymore. 24 of us, in a crowd of a couple of hundred packed into the Red Robinson Show Theatre. What happened?
Time was, the Hawaiian shirt, while not mandatory, made up the bulk of what the audience was wearing at one of Al’s shows. I can remember going to see him at the Orpheum in Winnipeg, back in the 90’s when I was at the University of Manitoba, and nearly everyone there was sporting something with too-loud colours and flower and fish and hula patterns. Heck, there was one guy sitting a couple of rows in front of me who’d gone to the trouble of having his yarmulke made from the same bright fabric as his shirt. Now that’s a fan! No so this time around. Just a small group of us die-hards.
It’s not even like being a fan demanded something truly bizarre like wolfing down a twinkie dog with spray-on cheese-like product (I had a buddy who actually did that after watching “UHF” – not something I’d care to do). If that was the case, I could understand concert-goers, saying “Dude, that’s a little extreme.” But it’s not. No, the wearing of the Hawaiian shirt is just a way of sharing the utterly shameless indulgence in daring to be stupid and have fun in being a Weird Al fan amidst other fans. Part of the fun was trying to pick out the wackiest shirt pattern near you in the crowd.
Sure, Al himself isn’t as heavy into the Hawaiian shirts when he’s on-stage as he used to be, but he still wears a couple in the act. Shouldn’t that make it okay for the audience to keep with its traditions?
And yet, it was by and large a pretty drab audience that assembled Saturday night. When did fandom get so grey?