Craig Hammons: The B-52s With Pacific Symphony Create The ‘Cosmic Party’ in Orange County

B52s rip by Craig Hammons

Pacific Symphony Joins B52s


After almost four decades of shaking and shimmying their way around the world The B-52s landed at the Pacific Amphitheatre on this cool summer night to get the party started.  The OC Fair was in full swing and what else could you ask for but a cold beer, fried Twinkies and The B-52s.

Tonight’s show was going to be special as they would be performing a set with the Pacific Symphony.

Fred Schneider dons groovy wig at B52s show – Photo by Craig Hammons

Preserving the B52s Boogie

I preserved my boogie as I knew once they hit the stage it would be a nonstop dance party.   The audience was full of fans wearing bee hive hairdos and loud bright clothes.  The capacity crowd was whipped into a frenzy as soon as The B-52s stepped on stage and launched right into the title track to 1989’s “Cosmic Thing,” produced by the great Nile Rodgers and Don Was.  Everyone was up on their feet and shaking their honeybuns.

Without missing a beat they went right into “Mesopotamia” which accented the 3 part harmonies of Fred, Cindy and Kate.  They kept the pace going and went into “Funplex” the title track of their most recent album.  The first set was full of deeper cuts from their vast catalogue with songs like “Whammy Kiss” and “Channel Z.”   But on this summer night they played “Summer of Love,” off of 1986’s “Bouncing Off the Satellites which hasn’t been played regularly live in years.  Then Fred comes out with a wig on and they do a really obscure goofy song called “Wig.”   The B-52s closed out the first set with the moving and grooving number “Strobe Light.”

Kate Pierson and the B52s ‘Roam’ where they want to – Photo by Craig Hammons

Pacific Symphony and B52s

The B-52s after a short break returned for the next set but this time they brought the 50 piece Pacific Symphony conducted by Roger Kalia.  You put 50 musicians behind The B-52s sound and it takes it their songs to another level.  They started the second set off with “Planet Claire.”   The orchestra’s string section accented the songs perfectly especially on “Private Idaho.”  Fred was working the stage and encouraging everyone to forget about their problems and have a good time during “Dance This Mess Around.”   The party was in full swing as Fred invited everyone to take a trip with them during “Roam.”

The Pacific Symphony was having a blast as I saw some of the string section singing along while strumming their violins.

Cindy Wilson of The B52s – Photo by Craig Hammons

B52s ‘Shake That Thing’

The party wasn’t over yet and we all knew it.   After “Party Out of Bounds” it was soon time to set sail to the “Love Shack.”    The orchestra added layers to this song you couldn’t imagine.  It sounded so full fun, life and happiness.   I never thought I would be at a dance party with a symphony but the format worked perfect.  The night ended with the crowd pleasing “Rock Lobster” with Cindy and Kate singing the in their dramatic falsetto and vibrato yelps from the deep.   Like the B-52s say “shake that thing all night long, shake it man, ya can’t go wrong, rock the house.”   That is exactly what everyone did tonight as we forgot about our problems and shook our suitcase under the stars.