The Albright-Knox Art Gallery was the place to party in Buffalo on Saturday, as legendary new wave dance group the B-52s gave the prestigious art museum a well-deserved jump-start to fun at the Rockin' at the Knox festival.
Sharing the bill were such acts as Australian actor/musician Ben Lee, Canadian Indie rock band Metric, a Brooklyn-based Indie punk group called Tiny Masters of Today, and Robby Takac's pioneering dance group Ammungus. Some local talent was introduced to the crowd in the form of Besnyno and the Pillagers.
The event was not exclusively rock-based, however, as jazz groups Ayer y Hoy and the Other Side -- the latter featuring the gallery's Chief Curator Douglas Dreishphoon as the drummer -- offered a lighter, more relaxed sound in the Sculpture Gardens.
As for the B-52s, they did not disappoint. Their first number, "Pump," a track off their new album "Funplex," released in March, showed the group as energetic and dynamic as they had been back in the 1970s, only with a slightly more updated sound. Lead singer Fred Schneider showcased his signature moves and oddly gratifying sense of humor. Indeed, his introductions to many of the songs, which usually consisted of hilarious comments on the meanings of these songs, were highlights.
In many cases, while "Funplex" is heavily promoted, the band returned to its late 1970s/early 1980s catalog, such as the song "Mesopotamia" the title track from a 1982 EP produced by former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. Another highlight was the suggestive "Ultraviolet," which used many subtle allusions to romance, done in the group's standard style. Of course to appease the crowd, hits such as "Rock Lobster, "Love Shack" and "Private Idaho" were also included in the set. Another interesting aspect was that the group sounds very similar on stage to its studio recordings, yet with add-ons of "Buffalo" and certain changes in some of the percussion, the show was very much performed in the "here and now."
On a less pleasant note, the audience was far from controlled. Many people were dancing to the point of inconvenience to others around them. While in most situations, it is deemed appropriate and even encouraged, the mix of excessive alcohol consumption and exaggerated dance movements proved to be uncomfortable to those who actually listened and enjoyed the music. Also, many people were talking on cell phones and making an extensive amount of noise.
Other than that, the show had given testament to the B-52s' ability to give upbeat, energetic and all-out fun music after all this time. The hits have not run dry for them, and many believe they never will.
Colin Reboy is a freshman at Tonawanda High School.