The Pala fire marshal and fans in first-row seats didn’t stand a chance when the B-52s took the stage following the Fixx, July 21, in concert at Pala Casino’s Palomar Starlight Theater. The 1980s dance band got concert goers out of their seats and dancing in the aisles and down in front of the stage.
The Fixx opened with a 52-minute performance, starting their eight songs with “Red Skies” and concluding with “Saved by Zero.” The band received a warm reception from the audience, which responded to those and other Fixx melodies with applause and by singing along as Fixx lead vocalist Cy Curnin encouraged the audience to take over the lyrics. But they stayed in their seats.
The Fixx received audience support for their opening and closing songs as well as “How Much is Enough,” “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Stand or Fall,” but when a three-member majority of the five-member band is wearing button-down shirts instead of T-shirts, the contrast between the two 1980s bands couldn’t be more contrasting.
The second act, the B-52s, are known more as a dance group. That band began with “Cosmic Thing” and “Mesopotamia,” after which B-52s vocalist Fred Schneider expressed his desire for a more active audience.
“Did they super glue the seats or something?” Schneider said. “We’re a dance band. Do you want us to do our dinner theater routine?”
The audience responded positively for Schneider but eventually it became not so positive for fire prevention professionals and the front-row ticketholders who desired to have the space between the front row and the stage clear.
The audience began dancing in their seats during the third song, “Hot Lava,” and beginning with the ninth song, “Channel Z,” the dancing included the area between the front row and the stage. The preconcert announcements had stated that the Pala Fire Department called for the paths and open areas to be clear, except as walking paths, but the audience with encouragement from the B-52s, overrode that directive. Taller guests seated in the front rows were able to adjust to the crowd by standing; however, the shorter patrons were forced to find space near the front of the impromptu dance area.
In response, Schneider did request that audience members put their phones away to better enjoy the show, but that directive increased audience involvement, rather than decreasing it.
The B-52s portion of the concert totaled 15 songs and 74 minutes, not including an encore break. The final song before the encore was “Love Shack.” Since the band had not yet performed “Rock Lobster,” it was no surprise that an encore would happen.
The three-song encore began with “Planet Claire” and “6060-842” and concluded with “Rock Lobster.” The usual dance move for “Rock Lobster” is for the dancers to go down as “Down, Down” is sung, but the crowded dance area made that dance move a difficult task, like enforcing fire codes in a crowded theater.