On Saturday night at 8:00 p.m., while legions of energy-conscious eco-citizens were turning off their lights and computers in observance of “Earth Hour,” I and 10,000 other not-so-conscientious Twin Citians were gathered at Xcel Energy Center to witness one of the most gleeful, excessive, and exquisitely gratuitous uses of electricity ever devised by man: a performance by the Blue Man Group. (I’ll leave it to you to count up how many ironies are involved here.)
I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Blue Men’s moving trucks secretly houses a small nuclear reactor. I mean, the megawatts necessary to power this show are enough to poke a few extra holes in the ozone and power an entire season’s worth of holiday displays on the moon, or Mars, or wherever it is the Blue Men are from. Let’s see: 6,000 or so strobe lights, a few million LEDs, dozens of spotlights, black lights, portable video cameras and projectors, enough juice to fuel a twelve-person rock band, all the computers necessary to keep it all synched properly, and occasional bursts of extra power to fire streamers out into the audience, all of whom are waving fully charged cellphones.
Don’t get me wrong: I wholeheartedly support this kind of nonsense. The gloom and doomers may think it’s necessary to conserve every last kilowatt by using fluorescent curly bulbs, eating by candlelight, and going to bed right after dinner. But every once in a while we need to be reminded that electricity is also a resource that should be squandered and enjoyed. It’s all about balance. Besides, electrons don’t care how much fun we have with them, so why not use them for whatever forms of ridiculous amusement we can think up?
Thankfully, the Blue Man Group is not run by a bunch of earth-hugging, buzz-killing conservationists. Otherwise, they would put on a very dull show. All the flash and sizzle would disappear, and they would just be three guys with blue heads banging on pieces of PVC tubing with plastic spatulas. As tube-bangers go, they’d still probably be among the best in the business, but it wouldn’t be the same.
For Saturday night’s show, the Blue Men brought their deluxe arena package, which means that everything was louder and crazier than usual. This was a stop on the How to be a Megastar 2.1 tour, though how it differs from the 2.0 version isn’t clear. The woman sitting next to me observed that the Blue Men themselves looked slightly bluer, but that could have been the beer talking.
It’s a funny, clever, entertaining show—the sort of thing that deserves to be running simultaneously in ten cities, six days a week, until the end of time. In it, the Blue Men are trying to become rock stars and are following the directions in a “Rock Star Instruction Manual” that shows them how to swivel their hips, bob their heads, pump their fists in the air, wear weird makeup, and generally fashion themselves after the great rock icons of yore. In between making fun of rock ‘n’ roll concert conventions and playing silly arena games with the audience, they and their band play the living daylights out of those tubes (I cannot emphasize enough how good they are at banging on plastic), and send booming waves of thunder throughout the arena as they whack their big drum and an open grand piano with a mallet the size of a lamppost.
I read online yesterday that a scientist in Hawaii is suing to stop scientists in Switzerland from firing up something called the Large Hadron Collider, a seven-trillion-volt electron accelerator designed to smash atoms into each other with such force that it will recreate conditions similar to those of the Big Bang. The scientist in Hawaii is afraid that these electronic adventurers will accidentally rip a hole in the space-time continuum, creating a black hole into which the entire earth might be untimely sucked.
Before that happens, put it on your list to see the Blue Man Group, somewhere, someday. Their use of electrons is far less serious and much more entertaining—and if enough of us go, and if we ever do get sucked through a wormhole and blasted into a parallel universe, the Blue Men might be gracious enough to help show us the way.