Arguably the biggest cartoon band this side of Kiss, Gorillaz, from the get-go, have been far more interesting musically than the bland roar of the grease-painted crew ever was. On stage, the Gorillaz extravaganza now on tour may rival the vintage Kiss circus, with film, artwork, and stage design created by Gorillaz animation mastermind Jamie Hewlett, leading one observer to call it "pop spectacle done right." Meanwhile, Gorillaz musical mastermind Damon Albarn—late of Blur—backs up the visual hijinks with an increasingly nuanced pastiche of potent cross-cultural artifacts, running the gamut from pop to soul to hip hop and largely making the transition from comics soundtrack to genuine, flesh-and-blood stuff with this year's Plastic Beach. As usual, Albarn assembled an intriguing array of guests to take the helm when he's not etching fine-boned English pop with his Ray Davies-like croon, ranging from sly Snoop Dogg to effervescent De La Soul to soulster Bobby Womack to Lou Reed's arid irony. Juggling gamelan-like exoticism, soul-funk space invaders, lush pop, and wired hip hop, Gorillaz have achieved full dimensionality. Many of those who helped out on Plastic Beach are along on tour, including Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of the Clash, Womack, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Kano, and Bashy. With N*E*R*D. (Photo by wonker @ Flickr)
Sun., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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