If 2010’s Plastic Beach was the last Gorillaz album, all would be well. Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett wove a cynical swan song around Casio beats and animated Satanic simian musicians that would have been a more than fitting coda to their cross-media project, if a bit of a cosmic downer. The creators haven’t lost their vitriol in the intervening time, and last April’s Humanz feels like a party erected in chaos, a bacchanal superimposed on the Trump/Brexit/pre-Apocalyptic hospice of humanity. The album also features a ridiculously eclectic list of guests including Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Grace Jones (!!!), Jehnny Beth, DRAM and Mavis Staples, among many others. Even with a sardonic edge, it still keeps the energy at a perpetual climax.
Gorillaz’ accompanying tour kicked off Saturday in Chicago, channeling that same air of grandiose mischief, with an epic line of cameos from Staples, Zebra Katz, Little Simz and Del the Funky Homosapien, reprising his near-iconic rhymes from “Clint Eastwood” for the encore. Unlike early Gorillaz shows, the musicians took to the fore with their animated counterparts occupying a backscreen. Paste photographer Sarah Hess packed into a trolley filled with cosplayers to Huntington Bank Pavilion. As the sun went down and the moon ascended, Albarn pointed out the near-full moon and remarked that it was “fucking beautiful.” Check out the mayhem in her gallery above.