The press release described the event as "an attempt to present new ideas about what a rock show and tour can be." It promised "giant monsters, huge video projections, (and) inflatable monkeys," not to mention "furious rock and roll aerobics." Upon further reading, I was advised to grab my juice box and prepare to rock, and even before I checked the title I knew that this could only be describing one thing: The Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo.
With its kick-off event slated for Wednesday, June 25th, the surrealist circus train of the UEE is, even as I type this, rolling out. And while we know the sparse particulars – namely that the tour is a labor of love from geeky northeastern rockers Harry and the Potters, Uncle Monsterface, and Math the Band – there is much about the show that is still shrouded in mystery.
To pull the veil from these proceedings, I picked the brain of singer, songwriter, visual artist, puppet connoisseur, and Uncle Monsterface frontman Marty Allen.
Hit the jump for more geeky fun.
Cutting to the chase, Marty stated that he envisioned The Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo as "The best day of camp ever meets the geekiest circus in the world." This summer camp angle plays in well with the tour’s unofficial subtitle: Camp Jump & Yell for Boys and Girls and Wizards.
Aside from the contributors’ obviously geeky predilections, a major factor in what makes the tour different from other summer offerings is that the UEE exists as a totally independent enterprise. "Unlimited Enthusiasm is completely DIY," Marty said, "we’re doing it all ourselves, and it’s vast. We’re on the road across the country for 6 weeks, hitting major venues, and bringing an awesomely huge show that we want everyone to feel like they’re participating in."
A big part of this Do-It-Yourself ethic is reflected in the way in which the tour operates in relation to its collective fan community. When asked about the role that fans play in the concert experience Marty mused, "The audience is, in a very real way, a part of this show. In addition to having folks on stage whenever possible, we also have a network of volunteers from each of the areas at every show helping make it happen."
But more than just giant inflatable monkeys and ridiculous videos, the Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo also manages to bring with it a measure of the type of social awareness one generally associates with Harry and the Potters and their Wizard Rock ilk. Each tour stop will feature a booth where these same local volunteers will take part in the new Harry Potter Alliance initiative Wizard Rock the Vote, helping of-age attendees with voter registration.
Further, fans unable to attend are by no means cut out of the equation. As Uncle Monsterface’s keytar mastermind (Perfect) Jimmy Bernardinelli won’t be able to offer his musical services for the whole of the tour, he’ll be hosting a regular weekly UEE wrap-up, the content of which is open to fan suggestions/submissions, entitled "Perfect Jimmy Gone Wild" from the super secret Monsterface base of operations known as Dino Skeleton Island. It will premiere on Monday, July 7th at both the official Unlimited Enthusiasm site and YouTube channel Monsterface TeeVee.
So whether you’re watching Math the Band musically relate the steps of the water cycle while doing aerobics, singing along with the Potters as they save Ginny Weasley, or checking out Jimmy’s recap from the comfort of your own home, the next six weeks promise to be entertaining, enlightening, and undeniably nerdy. The bands will do their part, and all you need offer is your enthusiasm.
But what will they do with all this enthusiasm?
"Dress up as panthers and/or dinosaurs and ride it like a tsunami of life-saving justice. In space."
Uh… thanks, Marty. That sounds… nice?
With an intense focus on a Do-It-Yourself ethic, audience participation, and a completely open and welcoming mindset, expect a show filled with kids and adults, parents and teenagers, all collectively enjoying themselves in an outpouring of geeky summer fun. A participatory concert, volunteers from the local community and fan base will be on-hand at each show to mix Kool-aid and make PB & Js, hang decorations and blow up balloons, register voters (with Wizard Rock the Vote in attendance) and play Nintendo or dance on stage with us. There will be name-tags! There will be bubbles! This is a home-made summer tour where anything is possible and the power of rock and roll can, and will, change our lives.
UNLIMITED ENTHUSIASM 08 SCHEDULE –
please see www.unlimitedenthusiasm.com for details!
June 25 | Cambridge, MA | Middle East Downstairs w/Potter Puppet Pals
June 26 | Portland, ME | the Space
June 27 | NYC, NY | Bowery Ballroom
June 28 | Brooklyn, NY | Southpaw (matinee)
June 29 | Philadelphia, PA | First Unitarian Church w/guest lecture on special relativity by Adam Goren (Atom and his Packate)
June 30 | Washington, D.C. | Black Cat
July 1 | Carrboro, NC | Cat’s Cradle
July 2 | Athens, GA | 40 Watt
July 3 | Gainesville, FL | Common Grounds
July 4 | Tampa, FL | Crowbar
July 5 | Orlando, FL | the Social
July 6 | Atlanta, GA | Eyedrum
July 8 | Houston, TX | Walter’s on Washington
July 9 | Dallas, TX | Granada Theater
July 10 | Austin, TX | Mohawk
July 11 | El Paso, TX | El Paso Museum of Art
July 12 | Tucson, AZ | Club Congress
July 13 | Phoenix, AZ | Modified Arts*
July 14 | San Diego, CA | Epicentre*
July 16 | Pomona, CA | the Glass House*
July 17 | Los Angeles, CA | the Troubador*
July 18 | San Francisco, CA | Bottom of the Hill*
July 19 | San Francisco, CA | Bottom of the Hill* (matinee/BBQ)
July 21 | Portland, OR | Wonder Ballroom*
July 22 | Olympia, WA | Capitol Theatre*
July 23 | Seattle, WA | Neumo’s*
July 24 | Vancouver, BC | Ukraine Hall*
July 26 | Salt Lake City, UT | Kilby Court*
July 27 | Boulder, CO | Fox Theatre
July 28 | Denver, CO | Hi-Dive
July 29 | Lawrece, KS | the Granada
July 30 | Omaha, NE | the Slowdown
July 31 | Minneapolis, MN | the Triple Rock Social Club
August 1 | Chicago, IL | Stas Mansion
August 2 | St. Louis, MO | the Bluebird
August 3 | Bloomington, IN | Rhino’s
August 4 | Cleveland, OH | the Grog Shop
August 5 | Ann Arbor, MI | the Blind Pig
*with Jason Anderson and the Best