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Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar(2008)
After playing to capacity crowds throughout 2006 and 2007, Blue Man Group's How to Be a Megastar Tour hits the road again in 2008. The live rock show takes the audience through a satirical workshop on how to create the perfect rock concert experience. In the process, they celebrate, skewer and otherwise deconstruct rock stardom in all of its narcissistic glory. Expanding on the Rock Concert Manual concept from The Complex Rock Tour, this time around the Blue Men download a new how-to manual that takes the audience through a uniquely clever and interactive show that guarantees to deliver hypnotic entertainment for all ages.
For more about Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar and the Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray release, see Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on January 25, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, January 25, 2009
The Blue Man Group is a creative organization founded in 1988 by ultra talented Phil Stanton, Chris Wink, and Matt Goldman. The group produces live theatrical shows featuring music, comedy, and multimedia mixed with a light show to create a unique form of entertainment. Their earliest shows only featured these three performers, but has now grown to a point (80 members worldwide) where there are several Blue Man productions, some even having women as part of the group. They must meet specific height and weight requirements, must be able to play percussion, act, and master non verbal communication. The Blue Men are known for their static nearly featureless appearance, earless, bright blue head and face, are covered by plain utilitarian clothing, usually black in color. They perform with an expressionless face, although looks of curiosity, surprise, wonder and confusion are often exhibited during their performances. When shown "new" technology, they often just stare at it in wonder. The center piece of their performances revolves around percussion, and they weave all elements of their performance seamlessly together, to create one of the most unique presentations of music I have ever seen. Many art performance type shows have popped up since the Blue Man Group came on to the scene. The most popular of these kinds of interactive multimedia shows is "Blast", but it features not just percussion, but brass, percussion, dancers, flags, rifles, and various other visual elements. However none of the other productions has the "cult" following that the Blue Man Group has. They brought forth this form of entertainment to the stage, and remain the 'real' deal when it comes to performance art of this kind.
The music and sketch lineup is as follows:
Rock Manual Infomercial
Time to Start
Up to the Roof
Floppie the Banjo Clown
Shirts and Hats
Rock Box Infomercial
One of These Days
Shadows Part 2
I Feel Love
Rock and Go
Introducing the Band
What Is Rock
When I first saw the Blue Man Group, I had to ask myself "what did you just see?" I couldn't define it in a package that was easy for my mind to process. Are they a performance art group? Well, yes. Are they musicians? Most definitely. So can I call them a musical performance art group? You can, but that would be just the tip of the iceberg. These three guys use visuals, comedy, music, and audience interaction as a basis of their shows, and it is quite frankly a unique and visually exciting way to present music, and specifically light rock music. They use a set of drum sticks and giant mallets to beat on everything from a giant bass drum, different size and shaped PVC pipes, drums with water on the drum heads. They swirl sticks in the wind that are amplified, sometimes lighted for glow in the dark effects. They dawn clothing that present a light show, and combine it with sticks with lights in them along with a multimedia representation of men moving in space. Featured here, and derived from the previous "Complex" tour is the Rock Concert Instruction Manual . It is introduced into the show via a fake infomercial, and is purchased using an audience member's credit card. The manual is a satire of the conventions of rock music. It describes simple steps on how one can gain fame and fortune by becoming a rock star. Various steps as announced are used in the show.
The uniqueness of a Blue Man Group show is the various percussive instruments they use on stage. You have a custom built 86 string Zither, basically an oversize harp that can be struck with a mallet, or strummed with the hand. It can be used with various effects pedals that control things like a distortion box, delay unit, wah, and a phaser box. They use various size PVC pipes, which lengths can be adjusted to create different tones. They are painted with colored fluorescent dyes that shine under UV light, but appear white under regular light. The Tabulum is based on the PVC pipe except it uses rubber or cardboard "reeds", which give it a more "synthesizer like" sound that makes it sound a bit different than just plain PVC struck with sticks. Airpoles are used to create a "swoosh" like sound. Drumbone is another PVC based percussion device, as it the Drumulum. You get the Piano smasher, Shaker Gong, Gyro Shot, Aronophonic, and Dumpstulum along with various sampled sound effects. All of these instruments are custom designed and made for the Blue Man Group. When you combine all of the lighting effects, various percussive instruments, the band, the multimedia presentation, skits, and the audience interaction, you get an unforgettable evening of sonic and visual entertainment.
Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Blue Man Group: How to be a Mega Star Live beats its way on to the Bluray format in a 1080i/VC-1 encode, framed at a screen filling 1:78:1 aspect ratio. The best way to describe the picture quality of this release is inconsistent. From the top, I could not find any issues with the source, it appears clean and artifact free. Black levels are satisfactory, but not as inky black as I have seen from other concert releases. Colors are excellent (a Blue Man trademark), extremely vivid, well saturated, and just pour out of the screen like a liquid rainbow. They were so well done, it made you forget you were looking at a black background that was not quite dark black. Contrast was spot on, as white looked white, and not bleached white. Detail on close shots was very good, doing a decent job of revealing various details on the percussive instruments, clothing, and revealing there was a stocking with blue paint over the groups heads fairly easily. However all was not rosy, as I continually saw long shots that had compression errors that dogged them. Up close lines were easily definable, detail was easily seen, and colors appeared unsmeared and clearly demarcated. On long shots that changed completely revealing blurred lines, smearing colors, and a noticeable lack of detail. When things look this bad, I always have to get a second look on a different display, but on my 50" Pioneer Kuros it was the same effect, although not nearly as bad as a result of being a smaller display than my reference. Overall I found the picture quality fair, but falling far short of the other concert videos I have reviewed.
Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Rhino brings three audio choice to BMG How to be a Mega Star , a uncompressed 5.1 PCM encoded at 24/48khz, a Dolby Digital encode at 640kbps, and a stereo uncompressed two channel stereo encode at 24/48khz. No doubt the 5.1 PCM mix is far superior, is highly dynamic, enveloping, and is system challenging in the bass department at high levels. The use of the 360 degree sound field is excellent, with a lot of channel separation between elements in the mix. The various PVC based percussive instruments tonal textures were well fleshed out, revealing changes in pitch at the slightest lengthening or shortening of the individual PVC pipes. The use of the LFE channel was exceptionally potent, leaving my pant legs flapping throughout the entire concert with its power. The big bass drum whack produced a fundamental tone at 30hz, and sub harmonic tones down to about 25hz or so. When the various percussion instruments are played in mass, lesser speakers and subs will tend to mesh everything together in one congealed mass. A good speaker system and good subwoofer with an excellent transient response will be able to distinguish each whack and hit of the drum heads with ease, and maintain an ability to separate and give air to each element in the mix.
Comparing the different audio choices, I found little difference between the 5.1 PCM and 2.0 PCM except the additional channels provided more envelopment, and better conveyed the venue ambience and overall sound design. The Dolby Digital sounded a little fuzzy in the transient edges of drum hits, had an overall truncated sound field, and felt just a hair less impactful than the other two presentations.
Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
We don't get much in the way of extras, but the content is full of informational nuggets about the BMG.
Inside the Tube: BMG founders Discuss the History of Blue Man (38 minutes) is based on a 2006 PBS documentary done on the group.
Mono Makes a Plea: Save the TV campaign (6 minutes)
Music Video: I Feel Love (3 minutes)
Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I love the concept of the Blue Man Group. They have a Devo like set of movements, are visually unique and exciting, and can do percussive drumming with anything in sight. Their entire show is very tight, well choreographed, so there is never a boring moment throughout the entire presentation. The video on the Bluray is average, but the sound is excellent, and it is certainly worth the money to purchase this title if you are into the BMG. Video issues aside, I loved this disc, and look forward to watching it a few more times in the future. Highly recommended!!
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