31 January 2008

Blue Man Group: Postmodern Rock

My voice is still hoarse from all that yelling at the Blue Man Group concert in Bozeman the other night. Conservative Bozeman, rocking out to BMG? Yeah, hard to believe. We prefer to drive down to Missoula for concerts since the crowds there are much livelier (no offense, Bozeman friends!), but the Missoula BMG date wouldn't fit our schedules so we went slumming (the Bozangelas crowd was a little on the timid side).

The show was awesome: three very blue guys making a lot of noise, clowning around and practicing site gags that would make Charlie Chaplin proud, and backed up by a great band and vocalists:

Blue Man Group employs multimedia such as video screens, digital cameras, and innovative light shows that involve the audience in, ah, personal ways (just ask the guy who was subject to the esophagus cam). Original acoustics are at the very heart of Blue Man Group performance. The rhythmic sounds of long, limber rods swished through the air; the booming roar of a big bass drum beat on with a mallet; and the Blue Man Group signature instruments, the PVC piping "TubaPhones." They play several versions(Tubulum? DrumBone? -- I can't keep the names straight), including this one:

Good stuff. Throughout, the show is a nice postmodern mix: self reflexive video statements such as Rock Concert Movement #2 from the Ronco Rock Concert Instruction Manual, "Give your audience the opportunity to practice the one armed fist pump;" the empty signifier of vague sexual and racial identity (blue guys in black clothes); multimedia blasting simultaneously various information via several channels; ritual drumming that puts the audience into a trancelike state; and the deconstruction of the masks we wear to get by in our day-to-day lives.*

Go see 'em for yourself.

* There is fodder for serious academic analysis here. Just so you don't think I'm making this shit up, see the excellent MA Theatre thesis by Sean A. Fidler, "Why is America so Blue?" University of Maine (2000) at http://www.library.umaine.edu/theses/pdf/FidlerSA2002.pdf .

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