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Friday, September 29, 2023


Gorillaz take center stage at Toyota Center

When it comes to helping someone review for a Latin midterm, the Gorillaz were horrible. They didn’t help out with one conjugation and there was no vocabulary review. Wait, that’s what I should have been doing Tuesday

Last Tuesday, members of the cartoon band, Gorillaz, took the stage with their real counterparts playing underneath a giant video screen. | Nasty Little Man

instead of sitting by myself at a concert.

The band itself put on a good show. You don’t expect Damon Albarn to be a new generation’s Roger Waters, but you almost wish that he was. With the animations playing over the band, there is a force in the mind that makes you want to compare the show to “The Wall.”

Try as you might, it is hard to get the images from the cult classic out of your head. “Heavy Metal” seems like a closer comparison. It’s not that Jamie Hewlett’s images are anywhere similar. It is just that they give off the same feeling, without looking like photocopies.

But the animation is still a major aspect to the Gorillaz experience, as it gives them an ageless quality that is not matched even by KISS. The band KISS is currently made up of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. The latter two members took on the Ace Frehley and Peter Criss make up.

That make up switch, as hard as it is to swallow for loyal members of the KISS army, in the end turned out ok. The reason for this is because KISS really is made up of the Star Child, The Demon, The Spaceman and The Cat. The characters that they play will always be trapped in the 1970s.

Much in the same way that the animated characters Stuart “2D” Pot, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs will be trapped in the early 2000s.

They can’t get any older — just as Bart Simpson has been trapped at the same age for the past 21 years. It is because of this floating timeline that the Gorillaz can bring to the table what KISS cannot. No matter how much face paint Simmons puts on, he is still getting older.

When seeing these characters on stage, there is this transport to a fictional universe with an ageless quality.

Below the large video screen is the actual band, which almost caused a sensory overload. You want to watch the whole show, but the performance is taking place both above the stage and on the stage. Both offer so much ongoing activity that your attention deficit disorder is not able to kick in and let you carelessly switch from one to the other.

You have to make the hard decision, for each song, to go with either reality or a fictional universe. Reality offers its own joy. You can see 2D sing “Clint Eastwood” online — just go to YouTube. But to see Damon Albran sing it, you have to see him for yourself. Real is interesting.

He jumps around, stands on amps and occasionally trips on microphone chords. He basically does the things that his animated counterpart can’t — he makes mistakes.

While the band lacks the timeless aspect that animation brings, there is a reality to what is behind the Gorillaz. It is worth seeing them live. They give an opportunity to look behind the curtain. While this back stage look offers costumes and lights, it is still refreshing to people to sing the songs, even if it isn’t as put-together as the animation.

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