As most anime fans can attest, at times it can be difficult to separate fantasy from reality. Geniuses like Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett create conceptual masterpieces like The Gorillaz and wisk us away to worlds so enchanting that we can lose ourselves in the animation. And therein lies the problem for a fully animated band. Having just released their third album Plastic Beach last month, the demand to see this month's coverboys (and girl) in real life has never been higher. Luckily, an opportunity presents itself this very weekend at Coachella.
Just how does a band made of cartoon characters perform for an outdoor festival of thousands? Murdoch was nice enough to give us some hints during our cover story, but the group has put on a handful of live shows since 2005 and even once had plans for a full scale tour. Those plans may have fizzled out, but if you're wondering what exactly a Gorillaz show entails, check out a history of The Gorillaz live performances...
Demon Days at Manchester Opera House (Manchester, England)
DATE: November 2005
• Billed as a "Gorillaz Festival," the inaugural run featured a large projection screen broadcasting film clips, animated band members and a silhouetted Albarn reigning over contributing musicians, including a full scale orchestra, like a the Wizard of Oz.
2006 Grammy Awards with Madonna at The Staples Center (Los Angeles, California)
DATE: February 2006
• For their 2006 Grammy performance with Madonna, the band pulled out all the stops. Aside from bringing out De La Soul, band members appeared as a mixture of prerecorded animation and holograms before yielding to Queen Madge and her court of break-dancers.
Demon Days at The Apollo Theater (Harlem, New York)
DATE: April 2006
• For the American run of their original Gorillaz Festival, the band played their Demon Days album from start to finish at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. The performance mirrored Manchester's with Albarn again pulling (or plucking) strings from behind the screens, yet spotlighting special guests De La, Neneh Cherry and Bootie Brown (of The Pharcyde), with prerecorded video of MF Doom and the late, legendary voice of The Afro Cuban All-Stars and Buena Vista social club, Ibrahim Ferrer.
2006 Brit Pop Awards at Earls Court Exhibition Centre (London, England)
DATE: April 2006
• The entirety of The Gorillaz '06 Brit Awards performance was screen projected allowing audience members (and viewers) to dance uninhibited under the colorful glow of Hewlett's animation.
Monkey: Journey To The West (Installments in England, France and The US)
• While technically not an official Gorillaz project, "Monkey: Journey To The West" is Albarn production married with more Hewlett illustration. The recordings score an opera inspired by one of Albarn's favorite childhood bedtime stories, and has had theatric runs in Europe and The US including the performing cast and full orchestra, along with projected animation.