Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

B-52s Still Rockin' the Lobster

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

B-52s Still Rockin' the Lobster

Article excerpt

WHO: The B-52s.

WHAT: New wave.

IN TOWN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, bergenPAC, 30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood; 201-227-1030 or $39 to $89.

ALSO PERFORMING:8 p.m. Thursday, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, Manhattan; 212-777-6800 or $55.


The Germans have a word for it. "Sprechgesang."

That's professor-speak -- for the dry, deadpan, slightly petulant sing-song that is B-52s vocalist Fred Schneider's unique contribution to pop culture. "It wasn't a rock - it was a ... rock lobster!"

"Instead of coming up with a melody or something when I write lyrics, I usually just talk-sing," Schneider says.

Combine those vocals with the keening-banshee wails of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson and the surf-guitar riffs of Keith Strickland, and you have the B-52s - the post-punk band from Athens, Ga., whose thrift-store costumes and free-association lyrics were the last word in cutting-edge cool in the late 1970s.

These days, with hits like "Rock Lobster," "Planet Claire," "Private Idaho," "Roam" and especially the mega-hit "Love Shack" on their set list, the B-52s have gone from extreme to relatively mainstream. But they still know how to rock a house, as you can see at Englewood's bergenPAC Wednesday (and New York's Irving Plaza Thursday). And they remain, along with R.E.M. and the Georgia Satellites, a seminal band in the famed Athens music scene.

Even if the band actually half-hails from New Jersey.

"It's no secret," says Schneider, born in Newark and raised near Long Branch. (Pierson is from Rutherford.)

"I'm from the Jersey Shore, but not like it is now," he says. "No Snooki. Well, there were Snookis back then, but they were a lot more fun than her."

It was after Schneider migrated to the University of Georgia that he hooked up with his three band mates (a fourth, Ricky Wilson, brother of Cindy and the band's original guitarist, died in 1985).

Eventually they became the B-52s - a term that is slang, down South, for the beehive hairdo that originally figured in Pierson and Wilson's girl-group-from-hell personas. …

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