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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blue Man Group Is Best Show In Vegas. The Beat Of A Different Drummer.

Blue Man Group Las Vegas at Venetian.
Thoreau wrote a line about marching to the beat of a different drummer. He didn't know about Blue Man Group back then. BMG is a performance act that originated in New York, featuring three guys in heavy blue grease paint. From New York to Las Vegas and other venues around the world, Blue Man Group has become a worldwide industry. The largest production is in Las Vegas at the Venetian. Blue Man Group is the best show in Las Vegas. They provide the beat of a different drummer.

Blue Man Group incorporates performance art, juggling, esoteric humor, social commentary, visual stimulation, optical illusions and driving original music - without a single word uttered by the blue men.

Besides the blue grease paint, a signature element of the BMG show is the multiple percussion instruments utilized by the trio. There are the usual snare drums and giant bass drums, but this is what separates the blue guys from the herd - they use PVC pipe in a way that no plumber ever imagined.

If you hit the end of a plastic PVC pipe with a flat rubber paddle, it makes a sound come out of the other end. The tone of the sound is determined by the length and diameter of the pipe. Knowing that bit of basic air movement science provided a catalyst for the creative minds behind BMG.

Throughout the course of their show, you'll see an array of visually interesting contraptions, constructed out of PVC pipe that create percussive sounds that are totally unique in the music world.

One of my favorites is a bit they do with a slide trombone-like invention made from the PVC. By rapidly adjusting the length of the tube created by one piece snugly fitting inside the other, an entire harmonic range can be achieved. It's awesome.

I've seen the show in Las Vegas seven times. BMG had its first home in Sin City at the Luxor. At the time I was the co-owner of a local ad agency and was on the A-List for media events. I went to the Worldwide Premier and got to see a lot of hip Hollywood stars. After the electric show, audience members were ushered down a long wide hallway past an area where the blue stars of the show were posing for photo ops, never saying a word and staying in character the whole time. I sidled up to one of the blue guys and whispered in his ear, "Did you ever think about going solo? I really feel the other two guys are holding you back." I don't know how he didn't crack up, that's hilarious. But they're pros and pros learn to shake off anything that might make them break character. The after-party was incredible.

Oh... I forgot to tell you about the show... That night, the showroom was abuzz in anticipation. Promises of some new additions to the production, which were not possible in the smaller theater environments in other cities, would be unveiled. BMG did not let anyone down. To say I was blown away, is a total understatement. I was hooked.

I went to a few more performances that same year, taking BMG virgins on their first trip to the Blue Side. They left the showroom hooked.

What happened, though, was that some of the strobe effects used in the show and the volume of the music were a little too much for the tourists. A few of the more heart palpitating routines were toned down and you could definitely tell the music was not going to make your liver quiver at the same Richter level as before. It was still great.

The second, third and fourth time I saw the show at the Luxor, I was in row ZZ, every time - odd coincidence. ZZ is not the last row, but you only have a couple more to go before you hit the top of the massive Vegas showroom that BMG performed in exclusively.

When the BMG spectacle moved to The Venetian, I was still on the A-List and had great seats and lots of free alcohol for that grand opening party. Again, the show was awesome. The after-party was at TAO, the exotic Asian nightclub, restaurant, bar, meeting room complex within the Venetian. It's worth going to, just to see the decor. It's mind-blowing.

Well... the booze was free and I had one of the local newspaper writers as my co-pilot. She was a real party animal, too. I got to the point were I was about to debut my own show, Green Man Goes Solo, when my bobbing head prompted the monstrous black-suited security guards to escort me out of the club. I still had a great time.

The last time I was at the BMG show, I took a female friend. She was dressed in a very classy, elegant cocktail dress. Gorgeous jewelry highlighted her tanned skin. I was dressed a bit different. I had on the old $10 black suit jacket I work on stage for about 2/3 of my stand-up comedy career (1989-1997), black jeans and tan suede cowboy boots (which my ex-wife said made me look gay).

On the way to pick up my date, I stopped at Walgreens and hit the gift wrapping department. Only a true BMG fan would know what I was up to as I filled my arms with adornments for my Show Suit. I kept all of my goodies in the plastic bag, hidden from my date, until we got to valet parking. Then, I had to get ready for the show.

I had purchased a number of those springy white curls of ribbon with the small square adhesive on the bottom that you put on gifts to make them stand out. I started sticking them all over my head, on my lapels and on my shoulders, like epaulettes. I offered a bunch to my date and told her, "These are necessary." I wish I had a camera to preserve the look on her face. She was skeptical about going to the show to begin with, now it was getting weird and we weren't even within a 1,000 feet of the showroom. She took one and carefully tucked it in her hair near her temple like a Hawaiian dancer does with a giant flower.

Our tickets were the best I'd ever had at a BMG show. I purchased them through a good friend that was selling the VIP seats to $1,000 donors to help a children's foundation. Sure they were expensive, but it was worth every penny. Being in the second row was a completely different perspective from the high altitude of row ZZ.

As part of the show, the first dozen rows or so are offered sheets of clear plastic. If you go to the show, you'll see why. Shrouded in plastic and covered with my curly ribbons, I was almost ready to rock. But I had to add the last true BMG fan accessory - one inch wide by 30 inch long strips of crepe paper. The rule is to get as many as you can from the attendants passing them out throughout the auditorium. You fashion them in headbands and armbands and tie them around your ears. This may sound out there, but what you're about to see is a few light years ahead of the more mundane tourist musical productions that always include fake naked breasts in Las Vegas.

My body was totally energized as the opening female voice who begins the first song on The Complex CD announced, "It's time to start."

Having gotten rather primed before the show, I let the musical energy move me. Animated is an understatement. I was like a hurricane of ribbons, crepe paper and plastic.

For one routine in the show, the BMG guys go out into the audience to find a participant. They are carrying a tiny pencil-sized camera. Once they identify their prey, they approach the person and through motions instruct them to open their mouth. The participant gives them their best dental patient impersonation and they put the camera inside the audience member's mouth. On a giant screen on the stage, you see the camera going toward the face of the volunteer (?). As the picture goes black from the theater lighting to the darkness inside the mouth, the show producers switch to a video of a real esophageal probe that goes down the esophogas, into the stomach, then into the upper intestines. It's hilarious.

Since I had done my homework and had prepared myself for the journey by building a true BMG Show Suit, I was the guy the Blue Men spotted and put the camera in my mouth. A brush with stardom. Yeah!!!

After the show, my shocked date who seemed to tolerate it more than enjoy it, said, "That was interesting."

Numerous people who were seated behind us came up to me and asked if I was a part of the show on a regular basis. They said my apparel and antics were so entertaining, that they didn't know if they should watch the guys on the stage or me. Yes... I know how to have a good time... and I have no shame about it... as long as I didn't hurt anyone. That's what being a True BMG Fan is all about.

Yes, the marble plaque that my first wife gave me with Thoreau's famous different drummer line on it, was still valid 25 years later. I've always marched to the beat of different drummers. I had no idea they were going to have a show in Vegas and be blue.

Now that you know the tricks to becoming a true BMG fan and how to properly prepare yourself for a show, you need to get the driving beats into your head. Start with the first CD, Audio - which is entirely instrumental. You have to absorb that before you can graduate to The Complex, which features vocals by Josh Haden, Dave Matthews and others.

Probably the funniest part of the evening occurred a day before and miles from the Venetian. I showed my five-year old daughter the promo sheets for the show and told her I was going, she freaked out when she saw the three blue heads, "DADDY, you're not going to come back blue, are you? Please, I don't want you to be blue! Please! Don't be blue!" I gagged with laughter. I never told her that I've always been blue... I just hide it.

To this day, I still feel that Blue Man Group is the best show in Las Vegas. They provide you with the beat of a different drummer

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