‘Dropzone’ sees an apocalyptic series from all angles

Patrick Dunn
Special to The Detroit News

Detroit event producer Doc Colony says he encountered some skepticism last October when he set out to recreate the “Mad Max” movies’ gladiatorial Thunderdome inside the Tangent Gallery.

“People just looked at me like, ‘OK, he’s losing it now,’ ” Colony laughs.

Nonetheless, the resulting “Mad Max”-inspired event, “Fury Road to Thunderdome,” turned out to be a success, drawing a crowd of more than 300. So Colony decided to reprise the event in a second installment called “Dropzone: Fury Road to Thunderdome,” which will take place Saturday at the gallery.

As with the original event, “Dropzone” will feature a broad variety of attractions related to the “Mad Max” franchise. The centerpiece of the show is an indoor replica of the Thunderdome, a 16-foot-high metal structure on loan from Nevada’s Burning Man festival. The Thunderdome will provide the main stage for choreographed fights and roller derby “brawls” performed by costumed characters, a la the movie “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”

Local rocker Vandl Colony was among the acts at last year’s tribute to the “Mad Max” films at the Tangent Gallery.

But that’s just scratching the surface of the event. Several electronic and industrial bands will perform, including Detroit’s Ex American and Eprom Colony. The gallery will be surrounded by about 25 art cars — motorcycles, bicycles and other customized vehicles inspired by the “Mad Max” franchise’s outrageous battle rigs. (“Even the go-karts are brutal,” Colony says.) The show also incorporates an art show component, featuring about 70 “Mad Max”-inspired works. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume, although vendors will be on hand selling costume elements for those who might want a last-minute post-apocalyptic accessory.

“The only thing I was missing last year was a Tina Turner impersonator to actually sing the (‘Beyond Thunderdome’ theme) ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero,’ and this year we have her,” Colony says of singer Salathiel Palland.

Colony describes “Mad Max 2” as one of his “all-time favorite movies.” He says he sought to create a costume event that would “really immerse people in the story,” adding that he’s been pleasantly surprised that the decades-old franchise still draws enthusiastic fans. “Dropzone” stage manager Nicole LaPointe says that’s thanks in part to last year’s Oscar-nominated franchise revival, “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

“I think ‘Fury Road’ has brought in a whole new fan base that maybe wasn’t quite aware of it before,” LaPointe says. “If you saw it, it was awesome. It just screams, ‘Let’s make an event out of this.’ ”

Detroit performer Russell Taylor says “Mad Max” maniacs make for a great audience. Taylor, who travels around the area as awhite-faced character called Satori Circus, portrayed a character dubbed War Daddy and served as master of ceremonies for last year’s show, performing a lengthy monologue from the “Beyond Thunderdome” film.

Taylor will reprise the role, inspired by the minion-like “Fury Road” characters War Boys, at this year’s “Dropzone.”

“When my moment came to deliver those lines, people were rapt,” he says. “Performing as long as I have, you can’t grab their attention all the time. I don’t care who you are. But people were just into it. It was really cool.”

Colony, who is planning to continue the event on at least an annual basis, sees almost limitless inspiration in the “Mad Max” franchise. In addition to future “Dropzone” events, he’s also planning a series of scripted videos for the Web that will follow the adventures of his fighters before and after they enter the mini-Thunderdome.

“There’s a lot of feature films out there, but nothing comes close to the stunts and the over-the-top characters and the larger-than-life-type things in ‘Mad Max,’ ” Colony says. “There’s a lot of moving things that get people inspired.”

Dropzone: Fury Road to Thunderdome

7 p.m. Sat.

Tangent Gallery

715 E. Milwaukee, Detroit

Tickets $15-$20 in advance, $25 day of show

(313) 873-2955