Ever since their inception during the Carter administration, the B-52’s have been hard at work nailing down their status as the world’s greatest party band. Max’s Kansas City nightclub in Manhattan was a fit for the band’s retro go-go–booted beehive look and their unstrung comedy. Their first official gig was there in 1977, and the band found immediate fans and a secure place in New York’s trendy art-rock scene. Underground success began to turn mainstream with the release of “Rock Lobster.”
The band is a quirky blend of sci-fi and surf rock and kitsch coupled to a dynamic that has never changed, even with the death of Ricky Wilson in 1985: a trademark driving rock-and-roll backbeat groove on the two and the four. The B-52’s would make a career of staying within that pocket.
Earlier this year they released their first new album in nearly 16 years. Funplex is a little heavier on the guitar hooks, and the beehives have been retired, but the call-and-answer interchange between singers and the band’s basic message of silliness remains. “I’m a pleasure seeker/ Shopping for a new distraction/ I’m a pleasure seeker/ Looking for some platinum action/ I’m a pleasure seeker/ Movin’ to the Muzak/ I’m a pleasure seeker/ Lookin’ for the real thing.” Onstage, the B-52’s still look and act like a goofball parody of a rock band, but they throw down in the tradition of all great rockers with a fidgety, raging energy of something about to lose control and switch dimensions.
B-52’s, House of Blues, Friday, November 7, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $62.50 and $87.50.