That Time We Rocked Out with Boston’s Blue Man Group

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If you’ve never seen Blue Man Group, it’s … umm … hard to explain. And that’s not just marketing spin. It really is a bizarre show. You could say it’s “performance art”, but that’s just vague and pretentious. It’s part comedy, theater, rock concert, social commentary, and audience participation. Personally, I love it.

It’d been ten years since the last time I saw Blue Man Group and, to my surprise, Mrs. Vagabondish had never been. So I decided to use my considerable Viator Ambassadorship pull to land us a couple of tickets. And, last week, we headed up to Boston’s Charles Playhouse to check them out.

Blue Man Group
© Blue Man Group

Since launching in 1987, Blue Man Group has been franchised out to cities across the U.S., including Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago. Every city puts on a slightly different show with different effects, music, and segments. Vegas, as you might expect, is larger and particularly over the top:

But on to Boston …

First of all, the show’s been updated quite a bit since I last saw it. So, if you’ve seen it before but it’s been a few years, it’s worth checking out again. Secondly, it’s every bit as awesome, fun, and hilarious as I remembered.

From a tiny mezzanine above the main stage, a “house band” dressed in black light paint plays a driving, percussion-heavy soundtrack throughout much of the show. It’s deep, loud and totally badass (so much so that the Blue Man Group CDs are definitely worth checking out). At times, the blue men join in by playing a large, unique PVC pipe instrument that was custom designed for the BMG shows. (Apologies for the quality but they’re quite strict about not taking photos or video during the show)

Almost every part of the show is based around or inspired in some part by “science and technology, especially the topics of plumbing, fractals, human sight, DNA, and the Internet.” They inject a bit of social commentary on things like information overload, but it’s never preachy.

Blue Man Group
© Joshua on Flickr

Everything the blue men explore throughout the show is viewed through a lens of innocence and naiveté. It’s as though they’re aliens seeing the world for the first time and we’re just observing them in a fish bowl.

In my favorite bit of the night, they drop the house lights, don LCD screens and neon light suits and perform one of the most bizarre, mind-blowing, unique dance numbers I’ve ever seen. It moves together in slow choreographed motion that’s disorienting, otherworldly, and fascinating. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but I’d rather not spoil it if you haven’t seen it:

Trippy Light Show Segment at Blue Man Group Boston
© Blue Man Group

How someone ever thought to design this is beyond me. I can only imagine intense pharmaceutical assistance was involved.

It’s difficult to describe the show fully without giving it away. Ultimately the surprise of seeing it all for the first time is a large part of the experience. Suffice to say the grand finale involves toilet paper, massive inflatable beach balls, copious strobe lights, euphemisms for the human arse, and the overwhelming sensation of being at a rave.

It’s also worth sticking around after the show, when the blue men gather in the theater bar for pictures with the audience. They don’t speak, but rather communicate only through subtle eye movements and gestures (Mrs. Vagabondish was more than a bit freaked out by this). This grainy photo is the only proof we have that we were even there:

Vagabondish at Blue Man Group Boston
Vagabondish at Blue Man Group Boston © Mike Richard

… not unlike an alien abduction. Which is actually how most of the show feels.

In short, if you’re a fan of aliens, blue things, or fun, I highly recommend it.

One Response

  1. Tim

    I saw them in New York in the early Ninties. It was bizarrely funny. The way they’d stare was like a punch line of a joke.


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