On August 9th at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, absurdist animated dreams became reality as Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Ween, and Primus celebrated 25 years of South Park. The cardboard legacy came to life as the show’s creators conducted the respective alternative rock icons through a marathon performance of songs from throughout the show’s history.
Leading up to the first of two South Park anniversary shows, anybody’s guess as to what might unfold was as good as the next. Would Ween and Primus both play respective sets, broken up by Matt and Trey emceeing the evening? Would Matt and Trey join their musical idols on some choice covers?
The answers came just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday as Dean Ween and Gene Ween (Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman, respectively) along with Claude Coleman Jr., Dave Dreiwitz, and Glenn McLelland took one side of the Red Rocks stage. On the other side—surrounded by fake, snow-covered pine tree cutouts, which added to the South Park ambiance along with Skeeter’s Wine Bar and Raisins concession stands—was the dormant stage setup for Primus. The dual setup suggested that there would be no delays due to equipment changeover.
Firing up the reliable opener “Take Me Away”, an especially well-dressed Gener (in a black button-down short-sleeve shirt in place of his typical plain black t-shirt) welcomed the audience to the show. It was Deaner who summed up the communal feeling, however, remarking between songs, “How cool is this shit?”
South Park – The 25th-Anniversary Concert – Full Broadcast Version
The first of the evening’s countless surprises came as Ween welcomed Primus to the stage to begin a joint performance. Les Claypool, Larry “Ler” LaLonde, and Tim Alexander hand-picked Ween’s heart-pumping, Motörhead sound-alike pit anthem “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night” to play next, a fitting selection for the festivities ahead. The expanded ensemble next took on “Here Come The Bastards” as Claypool delivered his own greeting unto the crowd and introduced everyone to PrimusWeen: “It’s the best laundry detergent you can buy. … It’s really clean with PrimusWeen.” One had to resist the urge to adjust their television set at the sight of Dean Ween and Les Claypool jamming together.
The guests of honor then arrived as Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh, Kenny McCormick, and Butters Stotch appeared onscreen. As Cartman lured the rest of the gang out of frame, the characters were then projected onto the namesake Red Rocks to the side of the crowd as they found their new home in Morrison for the evening.
The lineup finally finished filling out as South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone joined the party. Positioned between Ween and Primus onstage, Parker commanded a grand piano where he would hold court throughout the evening as Matt toggled through various instruments including bass, drums, guitar, and ukulele.
The animators made their opening statement with a power ballad telling of “Uncle Fucker” from 1999’s feature-length South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. With the help of Ween, Primus, and a stable of backup singers, Trey and Matt led the ensemble through a montage of the show’s endless fart jokes set to the duo’s song about montages, “Montage”. Following renditions of “San Diego” and “It’s Easy Mmmkay”, Ween, Matt, and Trey ceded the stage to Primus as the evening began to take form: Ween would play some songs, Matt and Trey would play some songs with Ween and Primus, then Primus would play some songs. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Rather than all of the musicians constantly shuffling on and offstage, those not actively performing plopped down on ordinary lawn chairs in the middle of the stage. With a cooler between them, Gene, Dean, Matt, and Trey somehow sat still through raucous Primus performances of “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver” and “Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers”.
History was a focal point of Tuesday’s show as Trey, Matt, and Les recounted how the South Park theme song came about. Following a brief wardrobe change, Claypool returned in his costume from the show’s opening reel to lead Primus through the permutations of the theme song at its original pace (which rolls over the end credits), the sped-up version that opens the show, and even the fourth-grade remix complete with Claypool’s Whamola.
With an elaborate stage production, lavishly orchestrated musical numbers, and the astounding beauty of Red Rocks, it was easy to sometimes forget that this all came from crudely animated cardboard cutouts made on a shoestring budget. But on Tuesday, the cartoon absurdity became reality as the animated dreams manifested as real, tangible things that generations of viewers hold dear.
Fans got a look behind the scenes as we watched Matt Parker do his Butters voice for back-to-back Stotch classics with “Butters’ Theme Song” and “Have You Heard About My Robot Friend?” featuring a sit-in from A.W.E.S.O.M.-O 4000 himself. Tuesday’s concert was as much for the show’s creators as it was the fans, however, as Matt fulfilled what was assuredly a boyhood fantasy of sitting in on drums with Primus on Rush‘s “Closer To The Heart”, a nod to the former’s years-long A Tribute To Kings tour, which set to finally end this weekend in Vail.
[UPDATE 8/11/22]: On the second night of the event, the “Closer To The Heart” portion of the show featured a surprise guest appearance by Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson with a custom animated segment to match. For more on that, head here.
Primus, Rush’s Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson, Matt Stone – “Closer To The Heart” (Rush) – 8/10/22
A healthy dose of twangy Tegridy gave everyone—including a young girl brought onstage—a chance to lament how Joe Biden took their jerbs, setting up a transition into “Piss Up A Rope” from Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats as all of the band members donned cowboy hats. Claypool was the first to confess that Primus doesn’t have much in the way of country music, noting that “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” was about as country as it gets.
Primus and Ween served a necessary purpose as it is probably not medically safe to laugh as hard as we all did for three hours straight. Between fits of unbridled joy, Matt and Trey delivered the Kanye-skewering autotune club anthem “Gay Fish” before touching on The Book of Mormon with “Man Up”. Within the context of Matt and Trey’s 2011 Broadway musical, what we all witnessed on Tuesday made more sense. Sure, these are the guys that became the gold standard for comedy that is somehow both low-brow and astutely insightful satire, but they are also lifelong lovers of musical theater who will take any opportunity to deliver a performance worthy of New York’s Theater District. Matt and Trey brought South Park‘s raunchiness to life on Tuesday, and put it to sheet music.
Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “Gay Fish”
Ween and Primus’ solo performances became something of a backdrop throughout the show, with each group delivering a smattering of its best-known songs. While the amount of stage time probably wasn’t ideal for Ween, Deaner managed to encapsulate all that the Boognish is about within the confines of a couple minutes of noisy, feedback-laden ecstasy during a “Vodoo Lady” jam. This set up the rock highlight of the evening as Primus followed Ween’s “Voodoo Lady” with “Too Many Puppies” for a vicious, headbanging one-two punch. In addition to a quarter century of television history, the South Park 25th-anniversary shows also featured the greatest battle of the bands Red Rocks has ever seen.
While Trey Parker undoubtedly helmed much of the South Park portion of the evening, Matt Stone continued to check off bucket list items as he performed Primus favorite “Tommy The Cat” in Butters’ voice. Nearing the end of the evening’s program, Matt and Trey opted for some deeper cuts with the Japanese “Let’s Fighting Love” from season 8’s “Good Times With Weapons” and “When I Was On Top Of You” from their cult classic student film, Cannibal: The Musical.
Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “Let’s Fighting Love”
All the fart jokes notwithstanding, the moment that truly touched on South Park‘s monolithic, raunchy legacy was Mr. Garrison‘s “Merry F’n Christmas”. The song about forcing Christian beliefs onto Eastern nations encapsulated the offensive essence that has made South Park stick under people’s skin for decades.
The provocative crescendo of the highlight-filled evening was a production of the Lemmiwinks saga fit for dinner theatre. Following yet another wardrobe change, the tale of the heroic fourth-grade gerbil who navigated his way out of Mr. Slave‘s digestive system was told through dramatic reading, song, and appearances by giant costumed Frog King, Sparrow Prince, and Catatafish.
Rounding out the show was a pair of back-to-back Bigger, Longer & Uncut classics with “Kyle’s Mom’s A Bitch” followed by the DVDA version of “What Would Brian Boitano Do? Pt. II”. Though the rowdy pub-rocker dedicated to the Olympic male figure skater would have put a hard punctuation on the show, Matt, Trey, and the rest of the gang left a good taste in everyone’s mouth with the “Yelper Special” of boogers and cum to close the main set.
Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “Kyle’s Mom”
Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “What Would Brian Boitano Do? Pt. II”
Coming back out one more time, there was only one way to end the show: with Team America: World Police‘s anthem of American exceptionalism, “America, Fuck Yeah”. Fuck, yeah.
With one more South Park 25th-anniversary show on the books for tonight, August 10th, it’s unclear whether night two will be a rerun or, perhaps, incorporate something new. Any repeats seem inconsequential to those of us who have been watching the same episodes for 25 years, and even after a loaded setlist of 32 songs on Tuesday, years of the show’s legacy remain untouched. What Trey, Matt, Ween, and Primus proved on Tuesday is that no matter how well you know South Park, there are still surprises around every song in the show’s illustrious quarter-century legacy.
Check out some fan-shot videos from the show below via Jeremiah Rogers and others.
Various Artists – South Park The 25th Anniversary Concert
Ween, Primus – “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night” – 8/9/22
Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “Uncle Fucker” – 8/9/22
Primus – “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” – 8/9/22
Primus, Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “South Park Theme” – 8/9/22
Primus, Matt Stone – “Closer To The Heart” (Rush) – 8/9/22
Primus, Matt Stone – “Tommy The Cat” – 8/9/22
Trey Parker, Matt Stone – “Kyle’s Mom’s A Bitch” – 8/9/22
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Setlist: South Park 25th-Anniversary Concert | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/9/22
Set: Take Me Away , Roses Are Free , It’s Gonna Be A Long Night , Here Come The Bastards , Uncle Fucker , Montage , San Diego , It’s Easy MmmKay , Jerry Was A Race Car Driver , Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers , South Park Theme , Butters Theme Song , Have You Heard About My Robot Friend? , Blame Canada , Closer To The Heart (Rush) , On A Colorado Farm , Piss Up A Rope , Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver , Gay Fish , Man Up , The Mollusk , Voodoo Lady , Too Many Puppies , Tommy The Cat , Let’s Fighting Love , When I Was On Top of You , Merry F’n Christmas , Lemmiwinks , Kyle’s Mom’s A Bitch , What Would Brian Boitano Do? , Yelper Special 
Encore: America, Fuck Yeah 
 Ween solo
 Ween & Primus
 Ween, Primus, Trey Parker, & Matt Stone
 Trey & Matt
 Primus solo
 Primus, Trey Parker, & Matt Stone
 Trey, Matt Stone, Claude Coleman Jr., & Bruce Howell
 Trey, Matt, Ween, Bruce Howell
 Primus, Matt Stone (as Butters)
 Trey, Matt, Dean Ween, Larry “Ler” LaLonde, Tim ” Herb” Alexander, & Bruce Howell
 Trey, Matt, Tim “Herb” Alexander, Larry “Ler” LaLonde, & Bruce Howell