The B-52s, ‘world’s greatest party band,’ come to K-State

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The B-52s, a dance-rock band with an iconic ’70s sound, performed their hit songs “Rock Lobster,” “Love Shack” and others in McCain Auditorium on Friday night as part of the McCain Performance Series.

All of the band’s founding members performed except for the band’s original drummer, Keith Strickland, and the band’s late guitarist, Ricky Wilson. Three supporting musicians joined to play bass, drums and guitar.

Fred Schneider, The B-52s’ lead vocalist, kept his singing to a minimum, mostly performing in his trademark sprechgesang, a performance technique somewhere between singing and speaking.

Schneider encouraged the audience to make up their own dance moves during the show.

“The stupider, the better,” Schneider said.

Kate Pierson, one of the band’s vocalists, told the audience that the band was thrilled to be in Manhattan, and they enjoyed getting to see the Konza Prairie during a trip with a K-State professor before the concert.

“One thing we didn’t see in the prairie were the native wildcats,” Schneider said.

Prior to the concert, Steven Maxwell, associate professor of music, hosted a McCain Conversation in the Beach Museum of Art.

Maxwell gave context to the formation of The B-52s and informed the audience of their impact on popular music, both past and present.

“What I think is really fascinating about The B-52s is that they were an accumulation of all kinds of different styles, and that’s what makes them a perfect party band,” Maxwell said. “Everybody likes them.”

The sound of The B-52s is inspired by many genres that were popular during the ’50s and ’60s, including psychedelic rock, surf rock and pop rock. Maxwell also gave background on the band’s history, starting with their formation in 1976.

“They got together as a group in Athens, Georgia, which was an interesting place for rock and roll,” Maxwell said. “It functioned as this sort of underground … and as a haven for all these bands who wanted to do something different.”

Linda Lawson, K-State alumn, said she has been a fan of The B-52s for over 30 years. While her cousins were going to see The Beatles in concert, Lawson said she went to see The B-52s instead.

“The B-52s, they are just one of those wild and crazy groups, along with many others that came along,” Lawson said. “I love their music, they are that iconic group … at the time, they were the bomb.”

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