Gorillaz @ Oracle Arena 10/30/10


2 Nov 2010, 6:17

mercurystatic and I saw the Gorillaz concert at the Oracle Arena last Saturday, the day before Halloween.

She and I arrived as the opening band N*E*R*D had already started (and after we paid the $30 parking fee!). I'd say about one out of every 10 or so people were dressed up, so it was fun to see the various costumes. I went dressed as Dr. Horrible and got a couple of compliments from the people who recognized who I was.

The Oracle arena is the Oracle arena, so there's not really much explanation needed. It's a huge sports arena where the Warriors play and most of the seats were occupied. The one weird thing I noticed was that the floor usually reserved for general admission was filled with rows of seats. And mercurystatic noticed that the top level -- the balcony I suppose -- was blocked off. I guess Gorillaz and N*E*R*D can't fill up a venue like Silversun Pickups and Muse can.

N*E*R*D was apparently pretty popular a while ago? Mercurystatic recognized one or two songs that I had never heard in my entire life. They were decent-ish. A kind of fusion of hip hop and rock with a lot of rap lyrics and guitar riffs. Plus they had two drummers which is always kinda fun. And they had a dancer on each side of the stage which is always really fun.

I'd say they kinda tried too hard, almost. The leader singer kept talking about how "they" are angry that we're all trying to be individuals. I'm not entirely sure who "they" are and why they don't want us to be individuals.... The government? The media? Our parents? I don't know. But he did say reading is cool and so is being smart so... good.

It's also kind of hard to get the crowd riled up by mentioning Oakland. Usually a band can say "HELLO [INSERT CITY NAME HERE]!" and get the crowd to cheer and hoot and holler. Doesn't quite work in the bay area because half the people are from San Francisco, and they're not gonna get excited for some east bay city. Stuck up snobs, those peninsula-ers. He tried to get some cheers out of NorCal pride, but then the SoCal people get a bit disinterested.

So anyways, the Gorillaz. They were great! There were a ton of people on the stage at any one time. Damon Albarn was always on stage along with a gaggle of string players, a horn section, some guitarists, various rappers, Little Dragon and Bobby Womack made some guest appearances, of course.

Always behind the performers was a huge lit-up "GORILLAZ" in all-caps block letters. The letters could all change colors to match the mood of what was playing and to match the images/video playing on the giant screen above them.

The show began with a video of Murdoc looking at the audience through a key hole, talking about how the "warm up band" was going on stage and so it wouldn't be long until they would be able to play. The video transitioned to showing us sweeping shots of the "Plastic Beach" as Orchestral Intro from Plastic Beach started playing. Then we were greeted with a video of Snoop Dogg performing Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach. He wasn't there to perform in person, but it was still damn cool to hear him.

The videos being played on the giant screen were generally pretty interesting. They often times had the animated Gorillaz characters singing along with Damon or the other singers. The problem was that since the Oracle Arena is so big there is significant delay in sound from one part of the arena to another. So my guess is if you were sitting anywhere other than right up front the video and audio were a bit out of sync.

Still, the videos definitely added to the experience rather than detract from it like the images shown during the Broken Bells concert at the Fox Theater. For whatever reason I really liked the video during Dirty Harry of the choir of curiously animated children.

A lot of the songs sounded different from their studio versions, especially anything with rap in it. But the differences didn't detract from the songs at all.

They played a good mix of songs from all three of their albums. I was afraid that it'd be very Plastic Beach-heavy, but it really wasn't. Plus I'm finding that I like Plastic Beach more and more as I continue listening to it. Plus there's something about hearing it live that makes it better. But yes it was a good mix of songs from all three, including a good amount from their self titled album, Gorillaz.

Damon and the gang ended their set after playing a decent amount of songs including favorites like Dirty Harry, 19-2000, DARE, and Superfast Jellyfish, but they left out some key tracks!

Luckily after a short break they came back on for an absolutely great encore.

They started off with Cloud of Unknowing to show off Womack's vocals and then moved on to Feel Good Inc., Clint Eastwood, Don't Get Lost in Heaven (with a real choral section), and Demon Days.

Now I absolutely love the last three tracks of Demon Days -- I think it's probably the best end of an album I know of -- so ending the concert with those songs was just spectacular. I couldn't ask for anything more.

It was a great show. Definitely one of the better I've seen. And though I usually like smaller venues more, you gotta hand it to the Oracle Arena. If bands are there you know they have a ton of money to throw around for lighting and cool effects, plus the audio levels are just spot on. It must be an acoustic engineer's wet dream (or perhaps nightmare) to get the sound right in that huge of a space.


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  • SonicAzure

    Dead on review. Thank you, my friend.

    9 Nov 2010, 10:45
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