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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    David Bowie tribute concert honors legend with raucous night

    Darian Bakas

    One of the many tribute bands performs at The Rialto on Saturday, Jan 16. The event was put together in order to remember the life and music of David Bowie, who passed away just a week previously.

    If one were to venture downtown on Saturday and turn the corner onto Congress Street at approximately 7 p.m., they would have seen a large line of people standing outside the Rialto theatre dressed in strange, unique attire. People of all ages were sporting tall red and white wigs, and face paint that resembled a red and blue lightning bolt.

    What was the occasion? Celebrating the life and legacy of a man who had a tremendous impact on rock ‘n’ roll music. That man was musical icon David Bowie, the glam-rock king who passed away on Sunday, Jan. 10 from liver cancer at the age of 69.

    Naturally, when such a prominent figure in pop culture passes away, it creates the need to do two things. The first is to mourn them, and the second is to celebrate their life. This is what led the Rialto to collaborate with Territory Magazine to present “Heroes: A Tribute to the Life of David Bowie,” on Saturday, an equal-part concert experience and memorial event in honor of Bowie.

    Upon entering the theater, a gigantic screen covering the stage was sure to catch your eye, as it played Bowie’s music videos. Simultaneously, a disco ball hung suspended in the air and filled the room with glorious white light, giving the event a dance party feel as well. When the event officially began, DJ Butterfly took over vinyl duties and Territory Magazine’s Jared “Kitty Kat” Mckinley took over as host for the evening, dressed in his most fabulous Bowie attire of course. This is when the first of three sing-alongs took place. The massive screen displayed the lyrics to Bowie’s hit, “Space Oddity,” and from the second that “Ground Control to Major Tom” was up there, the audience was in a trance.

    From there, the first band took the stage. Their lead singer had bright pink hair that was certainly hard to miss, and they captivated the crowd with renditions of Bowie hits such as “Fame” and “Heroes.” Magic Kenny Bang Bang, a Tucson magician, then danced around on stage while playing with fire and making foam stars appear out of nowhere in what was a short, but entertaining, performance.

    During the breaks between performers, DJ Butterfly kept the music coming. Even during these breaks, the audience continued to dance and have a good time. Kitty Katt Mckinley also took the stage once again for another sing-along with the audience, and this left the crowd wondering whether or not there could be “Life on Mars?”

    Burlesque dancer Lola Torch, an original member of Black Cherry Burlesque, was the night’s penultimate performer. Torch executed a dance routine that began in clothing that covered most of her body, and ended with her wearing significantly less, The routine was a testament to the sexuality that was so vital to Bowie’s career.

    Finally came the last performers of the night, the band Miders from Spars, who had never even played together as a band before until 4 p.m. that day. They played some more Bowie classics, such as “Queen Bitch.” To end the party, Kitty Katt came back to have the audience sing along one more time, to Bowie ballad “Heroes.”

    That was the end of the official show, but the music and party continued into the night. After all, if you went all out and dressed like Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane, you might as well make the night last because you’ll to wait until the next time you get invited to a Bowie costume part to wear the outfit again.

    It was a really cool event, and its production pretty miraculous due to how quickly it was put together. According to Mckinley, “Tucson needed to celebrate and even though we only had five days to pull this show together, we came up with a pretty amazing show. It wasn’t hard to find participants!”

    The performers and the atmosphere were great, but one of the greatest things about this show was the fact that it didn’t matter what happened on stage. Attendants were there to honor a man and his legacy. The line between performer and audience member blurred because everyone was there for one and the same reason: to celebrate the life of David Bowie.

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter

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