Say you dreamed up a virtual band with a friend of yours who's a comic book artist. Say a bunch of instruments were lying around waiting for you to pick and pluck at them, and a bunch of friends kept dropping by to play. You'd act like a kid. No, you'd act like Damon Albarn did last night.
Albarn is the frontman for the musical collective he created with Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz, and much has been made over the star-stuffed lineups for "Escape to Plastic Beach," the band's first world tour.
Indeed, most of the guests murmured to appear did so last night--De La Soul, Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack--but the show was much more than the sum of Albarn's friends in high places. After all, this is Los Angeles; if they aren't out of town on their own tours, any number of surprise special guests pops up onstage at concerts.
At first, it seemed maybe the three giant video screens, catering to the full house, would steal the show. Considering the band is virtual, that might've been ok. The dimming of the stage lights while the next video began drummed up a sort of child-like anticipation: oooo, who's gonna come out next?!
Projected videos and vignettes fleshed with Hewlett's loping, slouching, slightly maniacal characters and jumpstarted by sudden violence shattering serene images were so absorbing it was difficult to tear your eyes away to the live action onstage.