Revealing the virtual band: Gorillaz and the animation/reanimation for the rock concert.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The brainchild of former Blur frontman, Damon Albarn and animator, Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz are the self-proclaimed world’s “first virtual hip-hop group”, consisting of four animated characters who serve as a front for the bands’s chief protagonists as well as an extended network of collaborating musicians, DJs and producers. Since their debut release and first public performance in March 2001, they have evolved from arguably little more than a novelty experiment, to something of a popular music phenomenon, reconfiguring the role of moving image within the genre and challenging our perceptions of what constitutes a pop group. Upon closer examination, however, their success, particularly as a live act, can be seen as something of a mystery. The absence of visible, in-the-flesh musicians on-stage in favour of screen animations and guest performers during their live peformances, the associated familiarity of Albarn’s voice and the simple fact that the band’s conceptual ideas concerning multimedia exploration seem to predate the technological advances required to realise them, are all factors that might appear to condemn Gorillaz to failure as a performing outfit. Do they represent one of the most successful marriages of music and moving image in the concert environment to date, or do their performances offer little more than a string of guest stars with visual decoration?By viewing the development of the band’s live shows in the context of established conventions within video and popular music performance, and exploring their existence as a collaborative force, this paper aims to shed light on the practice of one of pop’s most unique acts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherMaMI Conference, NYU
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 May 2009
EventMusic and the Moving Image - NYU, Steinhardt, New York
Duration: 30 May 2009 → …


ConferenceMusic and the Moving Image
Period30/05/09 → …


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