DVD Review - The B-52s: Live at the US Festival | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, October 25th, 2020  

The B-52s: Live at the US Festival

Studio: Shout! Factory

Sep 18, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Fresh off the success of the Apple I and Apple II, millionaire personal computing trailblazer Steve Wozniak funneled his personal funds into the US Festival—pronounced “us,” rather than as the initials for the United States—a three-day, outdoor concert just over an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. The idea was to celebrate a decade that would utilize technology to bring communities and the world itself closer together. Held over Labor Day weekend in 1982, almost half a million music fans attended as temperatures topped off at 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The B-52s took the stage at dusk on the first night, following up sets by Gang of Four, The Ramones, English Beat and Oingo Boingo, and warming up the crowd for a double whammy of closers: Talking Heads and The Police.  

Live at the US Festival captures footage of The B-52s’ performance, catching the band in early form and featuring all five founding members. Their set is packed with cuts from their first two, inarguably classic albums: “Planet Claire,” “Party Out of Bounds,” “Dance This Mess Around,” “Private Idaho,” and “Rock Lobster,” among others. The picture and audio quality on the DVD are solid if not spectacular, but more or less what you’d expect from a live performance recorded on video in the early ‘80s. Still, it’s fun to see the band—in particular, Fred Schneider—put their energy into the show as the wear their outlandish outfits. (Yes, of course the beehive hairdos are on full display.) A nice addition intercut into the setlist is an interview with the band recorded in 2019, talking about their memories of the festival and founding bandmate Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDs-related complications three years after this gig.

Highly recommended for B-52s fans, this is also worth a look for fans of new wave and quirky rock.




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