The Complex

(Rock Concert Movement #1: The Basic Head Bob)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and maybe even then), you’ve heard of Blue Man Group, the “how the hell do you describe them” performance artists. But what happens when you let BMG comment on the “insaneness of that’s going on in rock today” and “the idea of the cultural mask [that] keeps people in close proximity but (doesn’t) allow any real connection”? What happens when BMG decides to expose their “more primal and mysterious side”? (*)

(Rock Concert Movement #2: The One-Armed Fist Pump)

You end up with “The Complex“, BMG’s latest concept and tour. As with all BMG shows, it’s an audio-visual extravaganza. It’s a little less gee-whiz cool than their standard shows (I’d seen them three times previously while living in Boston), but it was extremely cool nonetheless, with the whole theme of personaes and cultural masks woven throughout the show’s music and visual effects. They even have an homage (for lack of a better word) to the Sept. 11th, 2001 attacks in New York through their number, “Exhibit 13“, whose visual backdrop consists of a shower of torn and burnt scraps of paper falling (electronically) across the stage. But by and large, the show was a percussion-laden bonanza, including their version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” (one of my all-time least favorite songs, but BMG made it palatable) and a raucous cover of Donna Summer’s disco classic, “I Feel Love” (hey, deep and mysterious doesn’t mean the show ain’t fun).

(Rock Concert Movement #3: The Up-and-Down Jumping Motion)

Side note: Before the show, I’d been told to get there early enough to catch the two opening acts. The first, Tracy Bonham, I was passingly familiar with. The treat came with the second act, an electronic pop band called Venus Hum. As soon as they kicked into their first song (“The Bells”), my sweetie and I instantly perked up. And it got better and better through their half-hour set, closing with “Soul Sloshing” (my personal favorite and one of the more infectious songs I’ve heard in ages). You could tell that a good chunk of the crowd didn’t quite know what to make of the group (the crowd was a mix from all walks—young, old, pretty-boys, slackers, you name it), but the rest of us were hooked. Literally seconds after they left the stage, I turned to my sweetie and asked, “I guess we’re getting a new CD, aren’t we?”, a rhetorical question if there ever was one. A couple of final notes about Venus Hum: (1) unbelievably, they’re based out of Nashville (there’s not a fiddle or steel pedal guitar to be heard); and (2) the lead singer is Annette Strean, not Icelandic pop oddity Bjork, but you can be forgiven the confusion upon hearing her voice for the first time.

(*) Quotes taken from Blue Man Group’s web site.