Most notably is the experiment that aims to extend the life span of Jimmy Buffett fans. Dubbed the “Margarita Project” and using gene therapy combined with recombinant DNA, as well as 24-hour I.V.s of Bud Light, researchers are aiming to take concertgoers to the “next step” of fandom. “By strengthening the symbiotic relationship between fan and artist on the molecular level, we can extend the performance careers of all bands, including Barenaked Ladies and Galactic,” says Dr. Rudy Wells of the Changes In Attitudes Bionic Research Center. “Plus, through recent breakthroughs involving prosthetics, Viagra-based suppositories and Rogaine stem cell therapy, we can rebuild these parrotheads. Make them better than they were before. Stronger, faster, louder.”

It should be noted, however, that building a better fan is only one of the methods scientists are exploring to increase the applause quotient at shows by The Allman Brothers Band or Norah Jones. Drawing on research first performed by the former Soviet Union’s secret police in the 1960s, Dr. Zachary Pavlov Smith believes that audience behavior modification is the key to successful shows, no matter it it’s performances by Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine at the club level, or Alan Jackson and Sarah Brightman in 20,000 seat sports arenas.

“It’s simple,” says Dr. Smith. “I ring a bell and a fan buys tickets for Britney Spears. I ring two bells and he buys tickets for 38 Special and Judas Priest. Of course, we still have a few bugs to work out. Drooling and biting are still a problem. Oh, the pain. The agony.”

Will science produce a better fan? Will DNA sculpturing, ear transplants and bell ringing result in an increase of attendance at shows by Martina McBride and Hootie & The Blowfish? Or do the latest scientific achievements seem more like a Frankensteinian experiment than the foretelling of a brave new world?

“There are those who say that we consider concert fans as nothing more than experimental subjects that we can poke and prod at will,” says Dr. Wells as he looks over the latest results of splicing amphibian DNA with that belonging to fans of The Les Claypool Frog Brigade. “But that’s not true. In fact, before we even tried our latest theories on fans, we experimented on one of the biggest pop idols of the 20th century. And we all know how well Michael Jackson turned out.”