- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

VIENNA, Va. — The B-52s stopped by Wolf Trap’s Filene Center and caused a shimmy-and-shake outbreak among a sweaty but appreciative crowd Sunday night.

The New Wave and punk legends from Athens, Georgia, celebrating 40 years of delivering an infectious dance grove, presented 15 of their most popular, as well as quirkiest, songs over a breezy 75-minute set.

Original members and singers Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson and Fred Schneider, now all part of the sexagenarian club, proficiently led a tight, four-piece backing band through hits such as “Love Shack,” “Private Idaho” and “Rock Lobster.”

Miss Pierson, almost 70 years old, continues to deliver strong, soaring vocals witnessed in “Roam” and “Channel Z,” and most amazing of all, danced all night.

Wearing silver boots with precariously tall heels, a short skirt and purplish blouse with red flowing sleeves waving liberally to the beat, she was clearly the spark plug of the group.

Miss Wilson dressed in a multicolored, ornate and flowing moomoo and sported a blonde beehive that Marge Simpson would admire. She was happy hiding behind her shades, offering an occasional Batusi dance move, playing bongos and sometimes floating around like that Martian girl in “Mars Attacks.”

Miss Wilson still delivered her grittier lead vocals, prominent on “Dance This Mess Around,” and continued to complement Miss Pierson’s higher vocal range during, for example, “52 Girls.”

And then there was the cantankerous but always amusing Mr. Schneider. He appeared to have a bee in his bonnet all night as he stalked the stage while adding liberal cowbell to some of the tunes.

After what looked like he admonished an audience member early on for not standing up or being too obsessed with a camera, even asking “are you deaf?” he eventually calmed down while falling into his characteristically gruff and accusatory vocal pattern.

He bellowed “who’s to blame?” while pointing at the crowd during “Party Out of Bounds” and pointed even more as he sang, “she came from planet Claire” during the sci-fi inspired “Planet Claire.”

However, his odd vocal stylings and personality, contrasted against Miss Wilson and Miss Pierson’s singing, are what make the venerable B-52s a truly distinctive musical force as well as theatrical experience still today.

The B-52s also made an appreciated choice for an opening act with the 1980s power pop, garage band “The Romantics.”

Yeah, really, remember those guys? They may have been two-hit wonders, but they played like they were in Wembley Stadium for a scorching 45-minute set.

Rough around the edges but loaded with enthusiasm and extended guitar and harmonica leads, they played the hits, “Talking in Your Sleep” and the ultimate party song “What I Like About You,” and even brought new life to the Kinks song “She’s Got Everything” and the Animals classic “We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place.”

The three original members — guitarist and lead singer Wally Palmer, lead guitarist Mike Skill and bassist Rich Cole — were greatly assisted by drummer Brad Elvis.

A vaudevillian percussionist of the highest order and one of the most entertaining live thumpers out there, Mr. Elvis can mesmerize an audience. He flipped, bounced and caught sticks at will, even precariously balancing one on the palm of his hand risen up to the drum gods, all while keeping time.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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