Never in my whole life have I ever been as starstruck as when I first saw Fred Schneider in real life. It was 2006, and I spotted him as I left the john at a Cat Power show in New York. I've been in the room with presidents, sat at tables with movie stars, hell, I introduced myself to Rick Ross as Rick Ross
, but Fred Schneider? Big time butterflies. So, of course, I headed on down to Hollywood last night to see what it actually feels like inside of the Love Shack.
The B-52's concert at Hard Rock Live was announced sort of recently. Usually, shows there are planned way in advance, but this one, it was like, "it's August 22, already?!" Perhaps that's why the theater last night wasn't exactly packed. And, at first, the stage seemed very large. The crowd acted like they'd dined on Klonopin. It worried me. This is a band that sang the brilliant and hilarious words, "What's that on your head? A wig!!!" What if no one gives the B-Fifties any of their good stuff?
Luckily, somewhere between "Wig" and the fantastic encore finale of... well, we'll get there... the crowd shed their sedated state and ended up dancing with abandon.
The stage was a perfect psychedelic swirl and Kate Pierson's voice and presence was beyond delightful. We'd love to see the B-52's again in a tiny, sweaty, packed club, late at night. Schneider did some fun little arm dances, and Cindy Wilson looked majestic in a flowing caftan. The whole group is still fierce, but naturally, also aging. That was reflected in the jazzier, bluesier edge of a few of the songs.
Schneider said to the seated crowd, "Hello, the other Hollywood. The better Hollywood!" Adding that this is the better because we were closer to the Atlantic. Then, he introduced "Hot Lava" by saying that this song is about a hot topic for centuries, "volcanoes and sex." No wonder I was so starstruck! Then when no one but two very enthusiastic young gay men moved, he said. "You all can dance if you want. We are a dance band." No one stirred. Yet.
Schneider made the very Florida-centric comment, "Well Cindy, I saw your man on Alligator Alley with Susie the Python!" Again, my heart jumped. Regarding place, they also sang "Hot Corner" dedicated to Athens, Georgia, their hometown.
Finally, "Rome" got everyone on their toes, but the ushers kept them near their seats. This lasted a short bit, then the lazies sat down again. Schneider banged a cowbell, played bells in the shape of a harp, and Wilson put her drink down in a weird cup-holder mic stand. There were things to look at onstage. Interesting things.
"Love Shack" was good, but a not campy enough. We all had fun, but it was weird. It wasn't the Love Shack of RuPaul. Once the lights went down and the band left the stage though, everyone got fired up, yelling hysterically. They were hungry for some rock lobster, of course.
The encore was spectacular. Pierson's voice did magnificent things with notes. The "Planet Claire" intro never sounded so good, and the animal sounds her and Wilson emitted during "Rock Lobster" made me tingle. Next bar that opens in the tri-county area, please bring the B-52's to town again. We want more of Kate, Fred, Cindy, and Keith and we want them closer by.
Personal bias: I am now a proud owner of this towel:
The crowd: Gay men and gay women. A few young females and some old couples. Two great big men in boas.
Overheard in the crowd: "Rock Lobster!!!" by a seated gentleman before the encore. He said it with such force that the band came back and performed it.
"Give Me Back My Man"
"Love in the Year 3000"
"Too Much to Think About"