Friday, March 28, 2008

Blue men in my ears

Last week, I caught a show of the Blue Man Group.

The opening act was a one-man show: VJ Mike Relm. If you haven't seen his act, he does on-the-fly video mixing and deejay shenanigans. I should get the DVD, since a mere audio cd forces you to miss half the show, to paraphrase George Lucas.

I didn't know very much about the Blue Man Group going in; I know they do music, I've heard people say they enjoyed the shows, I'm aware that the performers paint themselves blue. but I can't say for certain that I heard any of their music before that night.

What an incredible experience. The concert was pretty interactive and very technical, full of eye candy and LEDs and neon. The Blue Men themselves don't really play anything like a traditional instrument: A maze of PVC acting like tubular bells; ten-foot thin plastic whip sticks; a full grand piano struck with a mallet on its strings; 55-gallon drums lined with streaming LED signs, covered in water and lit with strobes.

I saw only one instrument that you could buy off-the-shelf, and even then, they had modified it: a meter-wide bass drum held up by springs and rigged to blast like an enormous spotlight when struck.

I watched them cover The Who's "Baba O'Riley" (aka Teenage Wasteland); this video will give you an idea of the intensity, the interactivity, the technology, and the downright weirdness that is the Blue Man Group. Feel free to check out some of the other videos, and I'll see you back here in a moment.
(Direct YouTube link)

Three drum kits with standing drummers. Three guitarists. The occasional singer or two. Dudes on zithers. Video cameras brought into the audience happened several times, and they brought a few people up on stage a few times: one fellow read the credits at the end of the concert (the Blue Men never speak), and two people came up on stage for custom, er, wearable souvenirs including a baseball cap with a marshmallow tower and spit-airbrushed concert shirts.

Their primal percussion and fourth-wall breaking really drew me in, and I really enjoyed the entire concert — this from a man who usually won't admit to liking live music in general. Plus the genuinely funny physical gags served to make the entire experience somehow more personal and intimate.


Now playing: Blue Man Group - I feel love (feat. Venus Hum)
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Marc Majcher said...

Wow. I ushered for them when they were still playing in a small basement theater for an audience of maybe a hundred in downtown NYC in... 1996 or so? It was a freaking awesome show back then and it looks even freaking awesomer now that they have, like, a budget and stuff.

I just realized that was over ten years ago. Old.