I Danced This Mess Around
I saw The B-52’s at Chastain Park Amphitheater last Wednesday. No, “saw” isn’t right. I danced my a** off and sang my throat raw.
What a great night! I haven’t seen the B’s in maybe fifteen years. Why did I wait so long?
UPDATE: The Beloved Ex just reminded me in the comment box that we saw The B-52's when they played at the 1998 Coca-Cola USA Christmas party — and, yes, we did all sixteen dances that holiday night, WP. Excellent party!
As I wrote last summer, I love the B-52’s. They’ve been on my top bands list since 1980. Their songs are fun, silly, danceable. I saw them once or twice during my late-1970s tenure at the University of Georgia, and I’ve seen them every decade since.
Post-UGA, I next saw The B-52’s at the Agora Ballroom in 1980 during their Wild Planet tour. I was working for our college station at the time, and Cindy and Ricky Wilson came by that afternoon for an on-air interview. They were, of course, adorable. The show highlight was Fred skipping across the stage with a dogless leash during “Quiche Lorraine.” The lowlight was Mike borrowing my Devo flowerpot hat … and never returning it.
Let’s get back to last Wednesday. The show was outdoors — on the hottest day so far this summer. And I hate humid heat. But did I let that stop me? Hell, no. I pulled back the hair, wore the lightest shirt with the least cloth-to-skin ratio, and put on my dancing shoes. Oh, and lugged a jug of Chik-Fil-A lemonade with lots of Absolut Citron. A girl needs to stay hydrated.
There were some jewels in the crowd. Beehives and bright-green hair. Fortysomethings (and oldersomethings) and kids. Every segment of fun Atlanta folks was well represented.
The B-52’s kicked off the show with “Mesopotamia,” and we kicked off the dancing. We heard some classics: “Private Idaho” (which Fred introduced as being “like a fine wine”), “Give Me Back My Man” (one of the best heartache songs ever), “Strobe Light,” “Roam,” “Love Shack,” “Planet Claire” (Simeon, where were you?), ending the night with “Rock Lobster.” Fabulous set — and each classic sounded amazing.
The B-52’s have a new album coming out soon, and we were treated to some new tunes. One of the best lines was from a song about shopping at the mall: “Faster, pussycat! Sell! Sell!” I think we heard three new songs, and the samples left me wanting that new album (comes out, I think, next month).
This is their first album in fifteen years. I haven’t seen them in fifteen years. You don’t think my apathetic non-attendances had anything to do with that, do you?
One of my favorite B-52’s-flavored memories takes us back to 1989. I was spending the day with my niece, who was then two and a half. We’d been to the Woodruff Arts Center to see Santa, and were killing time at Jake’s Ice Cream before visiting my friend and her three-legged kitten. In between bites of ice cream, Lauren stopped, glanced around, loudly sang “Love shack, bay-beeeee!”, smirked, and went back to her bowl. She may not be the true fruit of my loins, but that girl is my child.
The band looks good. Can you believe that Kate is 59? Still cute as hell. Cindy had Tina Turner legs, and worked that black mini. Fred looks the same. My old complaint is the Jumbotron didn’t show many close-ups of the ever-hot Keith.
1989 was also a memorable year for B-52’s shows: the Cosmic Thing tour. The band returned to Athens to play a show on Legion Field, a big patch o’ grass on the UGA campus (I think the university has since paved that paradise and put up a parking lot). Here I am a couple of hours before that show, in front of Wuxtry Records, Peter Buck’s former employer (and one of my favorite record shops):
The show was great, of course. How could an outdoor B-52’s show on a field not be? My friend and I picked up a virgin freshman boy sitting next to us; we took him back to his room so that he could show off his score up and down the hall. He impressed.
We later walked over to the 40 Watt Club, where R.E.M. was hosting an invitation-only party for The B-52’s. On his way in, Fred Schneider spotted a friend standing next to me and invited him into the club. Fred looked at me and said, “You come, too!” But my friend — one no longer in my circle — whined that we shouldn’t since we didn’t have an official invitation. She drove, so I didn’t go in. Never since have I let someone else drive to Athens.
My only complaint about the show: about half the audience sat during the entire show. How can anyone sit during an outdoor B-52's show? Sure, it was hot — but so was the music. I haven't given up on Atlantans, though; there was one cool family two rows below us — dad, mom, and three blonde girls between six and ten — and those five danced during the entire show, too.
Many, many, many great B-52’s memories. If you’ve never seen them, what are you waiting for?
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