Recently, I came across this entertaining (to me) video of the B52s performing in Atlanta (they're from Athens, GA) before the release of their first album. Around 5:30-5:40 you can see what it was, a charisma of sorts, that got the crowds going in those small clubs.
At some point, a friend in the music industry gave me a cut-out of one of the early B52s albums, but I don't remember if it was that first album. In the 80s, my friend gave me a couple of hundred cut-outs that I eventually sold with the rest of my vinyl because of a lack of storage space, and to pick up a little extra cash while I was in graduate school. There was a lot of New Wave stuff in that collection.