Pop Music : Fans, Not Buffett, Lively at Bowl

Jimmy Buffett fans are a special breed. Buffett calls them his Parrotheads. Detractors might think they're better labeled birdbrains.

Either way, they invariably put on quite a show themselves whenever their hero performs, and they proved to be far more entertaining than the main attraction Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl.

Decked out in brilliant Hawaiian shirts, caps festooned with plastic and rubber sharks and parrots, sailor hats and anything else with a nautical theme, the crowd threw itself a giant beach party.

The audience members--a few even wearing bathing suits in the chilly night air--tossed around beach balls, took part in silly dances like the land shark and the bunny hop and drank plenty of margaritas, made specially available by the Bowl to capitalize on Buffett's biggest hit, "Margaritaville."

Meanwhile, up on a stage crowded with make-believe palm trees, fire torches and even a volcano, Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band ran through his set of concert staples as well as a new tune.

While the Reefers and Reeferettes, as Buffett referred to them, were spunky enough, the singer-songwriter performed listlessly, dooming his mostly pedestrian material to sound even more featureless than it does on record. Only "Cheeseburger in Paradise" captured the loose, frenzied spirit of the crowd.

Had Buffett merely been boring it might be possible to pass off his performance as just a bad night. But there's no such easy excuse for the show's several tasteless, even offensive moments. With only the barest passing mention--and an obnoxious one at that--of the devastation that Mt. Pinatubo has wracked on the Philippines, Buffett blithely performed his party number "Volcano," a big grin plastered on his face every time he sang the chorus, "I don't know where I'm a gonna go / when the volcano blows."

And after inciting the crowd to drink all night with party-time songs, Buffett issued a perfunctory plea not to drink and drive and then immediately launched into--you guessed it--"Margaritaville."

Finally, after screening a short film in which he fights the forces of disco, rap and lip-syncing, Buffett offered his own rap, sounding like Leonard Nimoy reading the phone book aloud.

"See?," he said. "Anyone can do this." Unless he meant embarrassing himself, Buffett was once again off the mark.

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