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At the Zoo, the B-52s shimmied
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At the Zoo, the B-52s shimmied

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The B-52s
June 17
Woodland Park Zoo


"Interestingly bizarre" is the best way to describe Wednesday evening's sold-out performance by The B-52s. America's favorite party band played to a crowd of picnicers on an overcast, muggy evening deep inside a zoo, of all places. There was no shortage of a good time, and neither was there a shortage of kids running around, or hoisted atop their parents' shoulders.

The Athens, Georgia foursome strode onstage promptly, opening with a splashy rendition of last year's hit single "Pump." Lead singer Fred Schneider looked summer cool in a checkered sleeveless shirt, Kate Pierson was fabulous as ever in a semi-peekaboo cocktail dress, Keith Strickland appeared überhip in a long-sleeve plaid shirt with dark shades, while Cindy Wilson stuck to her usual all-black attire.

"Mesopotamia," the title track from the band's 1982 album, came next and instantly separated the diehards from the new admirers, as did fresher material like "Ultraviolet" and "Funplex" - you could tell who showed up for the hits vs. those who danced and sang along to anything The B-52s pulled out from their 30-year career.

"Private Idaho" drew a wild response from baby boomer couples throughout, still embodying that quirky, bouncy feeling from its early '80s release. After all these years, the combined harmony of Pierson and Wilson is amazing to take in - one of the greatest in pop music. "Quiche Lorraine" was a surprise addition to the set list, as I expected it'd been retired for newer favorites - again, longtime followers, like the numerous sexy dads in the audience and yoga-sculpted moms, knew every word to this vintage B-52s number.

I loved the bubbly delivery of "Roam," yet I wasn't particularly fond of the vibe - or even the inclusion - of "Love in the Year 3000." But there are no complaints filed for the ensemble's spirited, kitschy version of "Loveshack," which saw The B-52s dance in unison as the entire venue displayed some crafty moves of its own - I kept an eye on an adorable young father a few rows ahead who boogied and wiggled to the delight and giggles of his knee-high daughter.

It was great to see parents with small children at every viewpoint having fun, and probably reminiscing their high school prom or college hipster days. Although, I would've preferred to attend The B-52s previous two engagements in Seattle, at The Showbox Market or WaMu Theater (as part of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors Tour").

The B-52s closed out their energetic set with two classics, a loopy re-do of "Planet Claire," complete with ghost-like keyboards, and the song everybody had been waiting to hear, "Rock Lobster" - I must say, it still sounds refreshingly ahead of its time in 2009.

This was a tootsie roll performance by a band known for being edgy - obviously, on a night when straight families outnumbered Gay couples, The B-52s played it very safe. It also wasn't the best setting for them, as the sound was near distorted (at least in the back it was), and the mood could only reach a mid-level of excitement from a crowd that, for the most part, had to tuck their little ones in bed almost immediately after the show.

I can now say that I've seen The B-52s at a zoo. And while it wasn't my exact cup o' tea, I'll admit to being pleasantly entertained for 90 minutes.

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