The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

I Was Charmed By David Byrne

Written by: Russell Davidson, CC2K Sports Editor

ImageDavid Byrne in Concert, Wolf Trap, WDC, Saturday, June 6th, 2009


So my friend Matt tells me he’s got an extra ticket to see David Byrne in concert. And even better, he’s paying for it, says he owes me for the Brian Wilson concert I took him to last year. Yet I waffle. Never really liked the Talking Heads, don’t go for “world” music or whatever it’s called, bongos, forty people on stage, etc. So I tell him to find someone else, someone who may appreciate the show more.

But then I remember the David Byrne from the Stop Making Sense stuff, you know, the big suit, the goofiness. And then I read that this particular show is going to be Byrne/Brian Eno material, which, I figured, would skew away from the world stuff, might actually be fun. So I agree to go.

Let this be a lesson. ALWAYS say yes to live music.

ImageIt was a blast.

There was some kinda gypsy folk band opening up, didn’t pay much attention to them. One good song, maybe.  Had a gal playing a tuba.  Had a theremin, too. Then, out comes Byrne.

It’s a great visual. He’s dressed completely in white. His hair is white. His band, consisting of two percussionists, a bass player, a keyboardist, and three singers, are also all dressed in white. Three dancers add to the mix, and they, also, are all dressed in white.

 So what follows is a hoot, a gas. Byrne is like Jack LaLanne, running, hopping, dancing, acting like a kid having a great time. There’s a low-key choreography going on here that is utterly charming, Byrne and his group are often moving as one, but with a certain humor to it, not overdone and mechanically non-human, like a Madonna or Britney Spears show. They use office chairs, fake guitars, and other simple props which add to the appeal. These guys don’t take themselves too seriously, a huge plus.

 The music? Some songs worked better than others. The few cuts from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts are a little too far-out to grab me, and the hits he played, from “Burning Down the House” to “Once in a Lifetime” to “Take Me To The River” come off well, and the crowd loved ‘em, but me? I had the best time with the songs I didn’t know, watching with a smile Byrne’s performance art. It wasn’t just music. It wasn’t just good music. It was theater. It was imagination. It was original. It was a ton of fun.

And the outdoor venue certainly added to the party feel, people drinking and eating (but, alas, not smoking – lousy rules!). We were under the roof, prime seats, and I have to say, I kinda hoped it would start pouring rain, so that the lawn sitters would get soaked and we could all laugh at them. Didn't happen, but that was ok. Nothing could dampen my mood.

Right, so now I’m a David Byrne fan. I won’t be putting on my old Talking Heads albums. I won’t be buying any of his solo stuff.

But I’ll see him live anytime.

Author: Russell Davidson, CC2K Sports Editor

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