When the Lonely Island initially announced the dates of their first-ever tour, eagle-eyed fans noticed there was a potential Summerfest-sized gap between their Detroit and Minneapolis dates. Once the Summerfest gig was confirmed later, it was a bit surprising that they would be playing the Miller Lite Oasis stage. With every other show on their tour selling out instantly, it seemed plausible that Friday night could evoke the Imagine Dragons disaster of 2013.
While the Miller Lite Oasis was completely packed (with festival-goers spreading out to the concessions in the back and every nook and cranny in the immediate vicinity), Friday night never reached Imagine Dragons crisis levels with admissions. Despite forecasts projecting thunderstorms during the show, there wasn’t a drop of rain to disrupt the brilliant performance by The Lonely Island.
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer treated the Oasis to a meticulously meta production that was packed with costume changes, guest stars, skits, video interludes, a vaudevillian spirit, and a relentless pace. Over the course of 75 minutes, The Lonely Island provided the best escapism and pure unadulterated joy to thousands and thousands of fans in and surrounding the Miller Lite Oasis.
The tone for the evening was set with the opening number “We’re On Stage,” in which the group detailed exactly what they were doing as they approached and performed on the stage.
“We’re on stage, we’re on stage!
This is a concert, we are on stage!
Now we’re hiding. Where did we go?
Is this show over? Will we be back?
Hey look over here, we’re peeking at you!”
Any concerns that this show might be toned down for Summerfest sensibilities were quickly tossed aside when “Jizz In My Pants” was the follow-up song, and included the lyrics and clips from the SNL Digital Short playing behind them on stage. With four albums of material, as well as their recent Netflix special and SNL Digital Short collections, The Lonely Island was essentially able to do a greatest hits tour that was all killer and no filler. Most of the songs were played in their entirety while others were slightly abridged to help segue into the next song.
Early in the show, The Lonely Island threw free T-shirts into the crowd, but after tossing several out they halted to let the crowd know there had been a printing issue and as a result, the shirts were all completely blank. After tossing more out, they stopped again to also provide the detail that there had been a sizing issue so the only sizes they had available were either quadruple XL or a baby onesie. Akiva then tried to figure out the logistics of getting Sharpies passed through the crowd, but only to those that had caught a shirt so that they could create their own design.
Pre-taped interludes afforded The Lonely Island time to make wardrobe changes. One of the interludes covered a cinematic history of Laser Cats, in which guns were replaced with Laser Cats in violent clips from films like Robocop, Pulp Fiction, and Terminator 2. Another interlude featured behind-the-scenes footage from a promo shoot years ago, in which all three Lonely Island members simultaneously fell off a horse.
For Friday’s performance of the three Saturday Night Live collaborations the trio originally did with Justin Timberlake, the “Man Of The Woods” wasn’t present, but was replaced by an Avenue Q-style puppet operated by Taccone. During “3-Way (The Golden Rule),” Schaffer operated a similar puppet for Lady Gaga. At the end of the song, the Gaga and Timberlake puppets began making out while Samberg screamed “Justin and Gaga are hooking up! What a headline!”
The biggest surprise of the night took place as Samberg and Schaffer performed selections from the recent Bash Brothers Netflix special about Oakland Athletics sluggers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. After performing the opening number of “Jose And Mark,” the two were in the middle of “Uniforms On” when the actual Jose Canseco appeared on stage (a true “No way, Jose!” moment). Halting the song immediately, Samberg and Schaffer begged for Canseco’s forgiveness, as he held a bat while wearing a tank top that revealed his massive biceps and distinctly late ’80s and early ’90s muscular build. “Oh shit! Please, Mr. Canseco, please don’t kill us!”
Canseco (who had tweeted his approval of the Netflix special, along with his manager’s phone number) wasn’t there to kill them, but instead wanted to perform his own “They call me Jossseeeee” from “Jose And Mark.” As the real Canseco sang this part of the song, Schaffer committed to the bit and tagged each of Canseco’s lines with “And I’m Mark.” It was a minor touch, but one that helped sell the surreal moment.
Part of what makes The Lonely Island’s brand of humor so distinct is the way they blend specificity into their absurdity. Some of the most memorable bits from Friday night that fit this mold:
• Jorma alone on the stage writing a diary entry about the success of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping that featured fabricated and inconsistent math, like “It made $700 million domestically and over $1.3 billion worldwide…for a grand total of FIVE BILLION DOLLARS!”
• A Hellzapoppin’-esque moment with a dancer dressed as the titular punctuation mark in “Semicolon,” later returning to dance in the same costume during “The Creep” and all three members of The Lonely Island berating him and telling that he was no longer needed as his moment had passed.
• Samberg performing “I’m So Humble” as Conner4Real, wearing a neck brace and seated in a throne being pushed around by an assistant for the entire duration of the song, only to remove it at the end and declare “I was fine the whole time!” and launching into “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)”
• The introduction video for “We Like Sportz” featuring Taccone and Schaffer in increasingly ugly and bizarre shirts, the standout being one of Stewie Griffin with the phrase “What Recession?” written above him.
• Taccone performing as Brett Favre:
“On the Green Bay Packers, I was a real MacGyver
I loved chucking the pigskin to Donald Driver!”
Going into the show, most amateur Summerfest sleuths gathered that T-Pain would be a sure lock to make a cameo. T-Pain’s headlining set began at 9:45, with The Lonely Island going on at 10:15, giving T-Pain plenty of buffer after his show to make the trek from the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse to the Miller Lite Oasis. Even with the knowledge that there was a strong likelihood it would happen, the collaboration was a perfect closer for the show.
The Lonely Island will conclude their tour tonight in Minneapolis, but the success—both artistically and in terms of ticket sales—hopefully means that there will be more tours to come. After the incredible attendance at Summerfest, will their next Milwaukee show be at an arena or at the amphitheater? Anything is possible.
We’re On Stage
Jizz In My Pants
Like A Boss
Threw It On The Ground
We Like Sportz
I’m So Humble
Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)
Jose And Mark
IHOP Parking Lot
Dick In A Box
3-Way (The Golden Rule)
I Just Had Sex
I’m On A Boat