Legendary art pop group The B-52s blessed the ears of its audience at the Fillmore last week on a spooky Halloween evening. With skeletal visuals and a crowd heavily costumed, the concert proved that, even after 40 years, Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider have still got it.
Before the group came onstage, a documentary-like video introduced the history of The B-52s and the impact the group has had on the music industry since the 1970s. The retro footage built up excitement in the audience members, who went all-out on their Halloween apparel. Many concertgoers came fully outfitted as bright red lobsters as an homage to the group’s hit song “Rock Lobster.”
The band did not shy away from absurd costuming, either. Schneider took on a tropical party theme, donning a brown grass skirt, a pink wig and lei, oversized sunglasses and a T-shirt reading “Halloween costume.” The pink theme was carried by Pierson, who wore a long, rosy hairdo and witchlike makeup to match her flowy black gown and silver boots. Wilson wore the simplest look. She sported a futuristic, black mermaid gown, her tall beehive hairstyle sparkling in the spotlight behind her Willy Wonka goggles and dangling earrings.
Raising the question “Do you know where we’re going?” to the audience, the group started “Private Idaho.” Listening to the tone and the inflection of the singers, concertgoers could discern that their voices really haven’t changed a bit. The band’s performance brought back groovy nostalgia through the group’s peace-sign-infused moves and swimming arms.
As Schneider left the stage, the female leads of the band were showcased in a girls-only portion of the show. “Roam” let Pierson and Wilson shine in the upbeat groove, bringing back sentiments of hippie freedom and love. The song ended in an enchanting dance performed by the two women, reminiscent of the iconic gang of witches in the Halloween classic, “Hocus Pocus.”
Schneider reappeared onstage with a new, blond mullet, carrying a mask on a stick and raising mischief around the platform. “A mullet — what a great hairstyle,” he said to the rowdy crowd. “It’s still big in certain places — like, places you don’t want to go.”
Throughout the show, the speakers seemed as though they were intentionally trying to damage the eardrums of the audience. Considering most of the crowd probably had grandchildren back at home, the loudness made sense, but it still raised concerns for those standing anywhere near the speakers.
Toward the end of the show, to no one’s surprise, “Love Shack” graced the ears of the entire venue. The B-52s blasted bright chords and drama during the “bang bang” section of the tune. To shake up the shack, the group mixed “Low Rider,” which everyone knows as the late-night “George Lopez” show theme song, into the middle of the performance. The combination was unexpected but worked so well — emphasized by the roar of the crowd.
As a whole, the group members showed their mutual respect for each other as artists, no one performer having more spotlight than the others. Trading between singing and playing the keys, the congas and an interesting slide whistle, the well-versed musicians displayed their talents not just through the music, but through the ease with which they appeared onstage. The B-52s have been around for a long time, and their experience showed through this solid performance.
The crowd could be heard chanting “Rock Lobster!” once the group went offstage, knowing there was no way The B-52s couldn’t perform one of their most famous songs to date. The band came back, playing the iconic song and leaving viewers wondering just how Pierson and Wilson make their voices so animalistic and weird. A figure in an overwhelming, campy lobster suit joined the group to close the show in an explosion of cheers.
In a night filled with cowbells, spooky visuals projected behind the performers and tambourine for days, the howling of the group left audience members back in a ‘70s dance-pop wonderland. If that isn’t the perfect Halloween night, you haven’t lived.