red lights

Cosmic Retro Party

The B-52's
Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
July 3, 2002
File Photo by Phil Bonyata.

Review by Mike Houlihan

There was a UFO sighting in Highland Park, IL last Wednesday and as The B-52's rocketed onto the stage, it was evident who was piloting this cosmic party ship that invaded the Ravinia Festival.
The only question left was, could this park-like setting (usually reserved for symphony orchestras and fine wine), withstand the dance-a-thon atmosphere expected at a B-52's show?
As Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson (wearing their piled-up blue hair a-la Marge Simpson) appeared on stage, Fred Schneider and the gang embarked on an 80 minute sweat-soaked retro party that was enjoyed by very young and, approaching, old alike. It was definitely family night at the park as the lavish lawn seating area was a patchwork of blankets occupied by toddlers, preteens on cell phones and forty-somethings wondering if they should have hired babysitters.
It may have been the oppressive heat, or maybe just the aging audience, that kept most of the crowd in their seats throughout the first couple of numbers. After Schneider reminded the faithful that, "we are a dance band, you know," the crowd finally came to life for "Private Idaho" and "Roam."
Midway through the show, there appeared to be some confusion as Schneider was leaving the stage for a break after "Mesopatamia" and quickly had to return to perform "Junebug" before his scheduled break, as the gals sang "52 Girls." As Fred reappeared on stage, the lethargic crowd staggered back to life as the band livened up for "Strobe Light," "Good Stuff" and perennial favorite "Love Shack."
But just as the party finally seemed to be gaining momentum, the B-52's vacated the stage as if someone announced the keg was dry. The band reappeared after a brief break, finishing quickly by performing a well received two song encore of "Is That You Modean?" and "Rock Lobster" before quickly retreating to their, no doubt, air conditioned space ship and leaving the overheated crowd wanting this party to continue.

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