Sunday, August 12, 2012

On Stage with Weird Al at the Pacific Amphitheater

Weird Al Yankovic returned again this year to the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, CA for the continuation of his Apocalypse Tour, and R2 and members of the 501st were on hand to join him.

I arrived a little before 6:00pm and backed the Droidmobile down the long loading dock ramp to start unloading R2 and the gear.

And back up that ramp to park the Droidmobile. Exciting times.

Unlike last year, this year we had time to check out the stage, and I was able to arrange the cables and mat to ensure that R2 could make it over without trouble.

We checked with the stage manager Hawkeye to verify that our Performance passes could get us back in if we wanted to see the first half of the show from the audience seating, and he said yes. (Later we found out the trick was getting tickets to get seats, which we eventually did.)

For the two shows I've done in the past, I had R2 drive in behind the stormtroopers from stage left. This time, they had me hide R2 on the stage, behind a black curtain.

This meant that I would need to sneak behind the curtain between the "end" of the show and our encore. It also meant that once R2 drove on stage from his hiding place, I'd need to cross in front of the curtain and then move to stage left, which in theory would make me visible to the audience. In practice this wasn't an issue at all, due to how the stage was lit, and the dark clothes that I wore specifically for this purpose.

With that out of the way, we horsed around with keyboardist Rubén Valtierra. If you want my droid, you're going to have to take it from me.

Next up, rehearsals in the trailer.

The show started at 8:00pm, before our tickets were printed, so we watched the beginning on a high-def monitor backstage.

We eventually got our tickets and watched about 45 minutes of the show from the audience area. Then we returned to the backstage area for the characters to get dressed and line up for the encore. Once again, Al's daughter was our Jawa.

I peeked from behind the curtain to see how things looked from this vantage point. Lots o' people out there!

Ok, showtime! Rubén played our cue, and the troopers went onstage, followed by R2. As I always do, I tried taking a picture or two, but they consistently turn out blurry because a) I have the transmitter in my right hand and the camera in my left, and b) there's no flash. Besides, I have no business taking pictures at this point anyway! I should have a link to some video soon, so check back in a few days.

[Edit 8/15/2012: And here's some video, courtesy of Chris and Christine Pellitteri. You may want to hit the Full Screen button for a better view. Al sings with R2 in the first few seconds of the clip.]

The characters jammed their way through the song, and everything went well. R2 led the procession off the stage at the end of the song, and after the show was over, we had the characters pose for pictures with guests and VIPs. There was some funky lighting in certain areas back there.

After his breather, Al came out and everyone lined up for pictures and autographs. Being the courteous folks we are, we waited until last. Al kindly signed my Performance pass. It was pushing midnight at this point.

A group picture with Al, and it was time to wrap it up.

I packed up the Droidmobile and got home in the wee hours of the night, perfect for getting up early for work!

It's really cool of Al and the production folks to invite the characters to participate. We do this on a voluntary basis, but we usually get to see the a good part of the show for free, and it is fun to do. Plus he's just a very nice guy.

The full photoset is here.