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Azure Thing

Monochrome domes: Blue Man Group pipes up.
Ken Howard/courtesy of Blue Man Group

If the traditional rock concert routine is growing tedious -- what with the archaic guitar-drum-bass combo, occasional crazed-groupie nudity, and sweet, sweaty euphoria -- take heart: Three hairless blue fellows are freshening the scene.

Blue Man Group -- best known for its multisensory mix of percussive music, theater, art and science -- is rocking up its repertoire, blazing a blue streak across the country with its Complex Rock Tour. Combining elements of performance art, rave culture and good old rock 'n' roll, the trio's first full-production concert tour visits the Valley this weekend, and purports to "push the boundaries of the rock concert experience."

"This show will not look like anything anyone has ever seen," promises Blue Man co-founder Chris Wink.

Inspired by the group's second album, The Complex, the new stage show sets the blue boys loose on a "rock and roll playground." Released in April, The Complex boasts a distinguished -- and fittingly diverse -- roster of guest performers, including the ubiquitous Dave Matthews, Bush front man Gavin Rossdale, writer Spalding Gray and DJ/producer Dan the Automator. Tracy Bonham and Venus Hum, who also lend their talents to the album, open Sunday's show and join the blue crew onstage for the main event.

Part musical innovation, part science project, Blue Man Group's Grammy-nominated sound rises from an array of invented instruments. Fashioned from hundreds of feet of polyvinyl chloride plumbing pipes, the PVC instrument -- "by far the coolest instrument ever made, partly because of its sound and partly because it changes color" -- is struck with foam rubber paddles, the pitch of each note determined by the length of the tube. Plumbing the depths of performance art, indeed.


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