By Bella Martinez
When it comes to music, old is better than new according to most opinions I hear. Which is why it’s no surprise that Humanz got a bad rap from music critics. In fact, when I first heard the Gorillaz new album back in April, I felt similarly. “Ascension” is no “Clint Eastwood”, but I would soon appreciate that.
Humanz once again transports the listener into a world devoid of security, but not of fun. As the animated characters in their music videos manage to survive and get by with effortless grace in near-death situations, you’ll find yourself dancing to lyrics alluding to the end of the world.
Take for example the “Saturnz Barz” music video, in which the Gorillaz squad finds themselves relaxing in a decrepit and haunted house while Popcaan raps in his Jamaican tongue. It’s the kind of song that marries your mind to your feet, and keeps you from doing anything except dancing. Which, if you have not watched the “Saturnz Barz (360)” music video on YouTube, I highly recommend you do. It is best experienced on mobile or tablet.
After more listens, I would soon come to think some of the songs on this album to be their best yet. “Strobelite” being one of them, in which I was not only transported into the Gorillaz world, but through time with funkadelic beats that reflected something out of the 70s.
Seeing as the Gorillaz were touring locally, my sister and I were quick to buy tickets to their October 5th show at the Forum.
The day of the concert finally came around, and I was met refreshingly by fellow Gorillaz fans. Both kids and adults showed up to celebrate their newest album in seven years. Vince Staples performed as concert goers filled the sold out show. Orange lights and fog machines set the atmosphere for the opening.
At last the Gorillaz appeared on stage, and opened with one of my favorites, “Rhinestone Eyes”. The reality of seeing one of my longtime favorite bands didn’t sink in until well into the set. They played goodies like “Dirty Harry” and “Kids With Guns” mingled in with songs from Humanz, like the “Apprentice”, “Let Me Out” and “We Got The Power”.
One song that I didn’t appreciate enough until I heard it live was “Busted and Blue”. As Damon Albarn took the mic and the lights darkened to a night-sky blue, the crowd pulled out their phones and turned their lights on. The stadium lit up as Albarn’s somber lyrics sunk in.
The production helped to put this show over the top. While the musicians performed in the foreground, Jamie Hewlett’s characters played in their fictitious world on screen as though they were the real performers. The lights and colors went along seamlessly with the entire performance. I had to stop and appreciate the work that went into this tour, aside from the music itself.
As the concert came to an end, the Gorillaz walked off stage to everyone’s shock. Fearing for the worst, the stadium began clapping and chanting in hopes they would return for an encore. After what felt like an eternity, they returned to the dark stage.
They played a new song, “Ode To Idaho”. I don’t believe it’s been officially released, but you can find phone-recorded versions of it on YouTube. I assumed that was their encore, but to my delight they went onto play several more songs which included “Stylo”, “Clint Eastwood”, “Feel Good Inc.” and “Demon Days”. I felt, at that point, that I had been undeservingly blessed.
Then, the concert ended and I left with a feeling of enchantment. When we got to the car, I immediately opened Spotify and proceeded to listen to “Empire Ants”, “HillBilly Man”, “White Flag” and a few other songs that I would’ve added to the show if it were a concert made in heaven.
Overall, an incredible band delivered an incredible show, and I highly recommend you go see them. You can find their tour dates and locations here.