Tag Archives: David Byrne
David Byrne and St. Vincent – The Capitol Theatre – June 29, 2013
Do you believe in fate? For me, a series of chance encounters over the years has led to a live performance by the collaborative pair David Byrne and St. Vincent. Back in May 2009, I spotted Byrne in the rafters of Webster Hall enjoying Annie Clark’s guitar prowess in support of her sophomore release, Actor. Fast-forward two years, the starstruck folks ahead of me in line for a James Blake show at Le Poisson Rouge were gushing about a walk-by encounter with Byrne and Clark. And Saturday night at the grand Capitol Theatre, a belated musical date started with the delicate chirping of birds welcoming audience members to their seats and spotlights framing several brass instruments strewn across the stage.
Filing in, a noticeably blonde Clark joined a headset-donning Byrne as horns blared on the opening number, “Who.” The evening intermixed songs from their joint effort, Love This Giant, with Talking Heads and St. Vincent standards. Heavily produced with playful choreography by Annie-B Parson, the brass band along with Byrne formed lines as if ready for a roll call on “Weekend in the Dust.” Clark spent most of her time shimmying back and forth across the open floor, toting her electric guitar. Byrne offered his own dance moves with some soft-shoe on “I Am an Ape.” As if stripped from the trash-compactor scene in Star Wars, Clark was walled in by the band moving dangerously closer and closer as she sang-spelled, “H-E-L-P, Help me, help me” on the strobe-light-inducing “Marrow.”
Byrne ditched his blazer to reveal suspenders on “Ice Age” and demonstrated his skills on the bugle. He called on Clark to join him front and center for “Like Humans Do,” to which she jokingly inquired, “What did we win?” But in all seriousness upon concluding “Lightning,” she sincerely remarked, “We’re superglad to be here.” And judging from the vocal responses from the crowd, so were those in attendance. Byrne revealed that “Wild Wild Life” was originally written for a video karaoke contest before everyone in the band joined in on the Talking Heads favorite, each singing a line from the song. For more fun, everyone but Clark lay down on the stage as she slowly crooned “Cheerleader.” Later she would battle against Byrne playing the theremin on “Northern Lights.” And saving the best for last, the pair returned for not one, but two encores, treating the audience to “Cruel,” “Burning Down the House,” “The Party” and “Road to Nowhere.” —Sharlene Chiu
It’s a word that’s used far too much, and all too often when it doesn’t really apply. But there’s no way around it: David Byrne is a genius—first as the frontman of the groundbreaking Talking Heads and then as a solo artist, record-label head, producer, artist, writer and director. It basically comes down to this: If David Byrne’s doing something, you should be paying attention. His newest endeavor finds him teamed up with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent). Their album, the highly acclaimed Love the Giant (stream it below) came out last September, followed by a short tour. But fortunately for us, the collaboration turned out not to be a one-off. Because the two (above, performing “I Should Watch TV” on Late Show with David Letterman) recently released a free EP, Brass Tactics—highlighted by a terrific live version of “Road to Nowhere”—and are now back out on the road again. See them tomorrow at The Wellmont Theatre, and then again at The Capitol Theatre on 6/29.
Tags: Annie Clark, Brass Tactics, Capitol Theatre, David Byrne, How Music Works, Love the Giants, Luaka Bop, Preview, St. Vincent, Talking Heads, Video, Wellmont Theatre
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Steven Reker and Luke Fasano already had pretty good gigs—Reker was a dancer and guitarist touring with David Byrne, and Fasano was Yeasayer’s drummer—before they decided to form People Get Ready. The New York Times says the band “is an experience beyond hearing music in a club or viewing a dance; it is a moving meditation that suggests dreams,” because their songs are often paired with a choreographed live dance performance. Of course, it helps that last year’s self-titled debut is filled with easy harmonies, addictive melodies and steady beats. And not only did NPR Music’s Bob Boilen name People Get Ready (above, doing “Windy Cindy” for WFUV FM) his No. 1 concert of the 462 he saw last year, but tonight at Mercury Lounge, they play one of their last shows of the foreseeable future. So do yourself a favor and get involved.
Hospitality – The Bowery Ballroom – January 10, 2013
Seeing some things onstage just make me smile, like a light blue Fender guitar or a Paul McCartney–style Hofner bass. Hospitality sported both of those things and more last night at their Bowery Ballroom gig that was originally scheduled for the week after Hurricane Sandy, but mostly it was the music that had me and the better-late-than-never audience smiling from ear to ear. Drawing largely from their self-titled full-length debut , the quartet was immediately at ease in their own music. Lead singer Amber Papini (she of blue guitar fame) has a distinctive voice that characterizes the sound—a sort of female David Byrne that’s part sweet, part quirky.
The album material was strong. “Eighth Avenue,” “Friends of Friends” and “Betty Wang” were clear highlights of the early set. Listening to the album, you get the sense that Hospitality is a sound: a happy, breezy, intelligent indie pop. But watching it unfold in real time onstage, it was clear that Hospitality is a band—Papini on guitar and vocals, Nathan Michel on drums, Brian Betancourt on bass and David Christian on lead guitar—that is sneaky talented and operating perfectly within their comfort zone. Listening to them interact with one another through tempo shifts, thematic curvatures and well-constructed peak-to-valley compositions was listening to a high-end jazz combo that happens to play highly listenable, groovy pop music.
Each member displayed impeccable chops and interacted fully with the others to bring out a lush, bouncy sound on every song. The group’s strengths became clear in the new material, which had a distinctly heavier and more rock and roll edge to it, a clear break from the stuff off the album. One was a perfect Jagger-less Rolling Stones knockoff. But whether playing old or new songs, they were fully in their range, like a bird hopping out of a nest fully confident it can fly safely to its next landing spot. Hospitality made it look easy, which was plenty to smile about. —A. Stein
Tags: Amber Papini, Bowery Ballroom, Brian Betancourt, David Byrne, David Christian, Hospitality, Mick Jagger, Nathan Michel, Paul McCartney, Review, Rolling Stones, The Bowery Presents Live
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The Tragically Hip – Terminal 5 – November 10, 2012
I’ve never fully understood how great Canadian bands (see: Sloan, the Weakerthans) can become household names in their homeland without reaching similar recognition in the United States. Do we really live in a world where Canada’s Bare Naked Ladies are bigger in the U.S. than the Tragically Hip? And don’t even get me started on Nickelback. Perhaps some things are best left to the people in the know, and the Tragically Hip, more affectionately known as “the Hip,” are outright adored here by those who know of them. Look no further than their live performances and their audiences that feed off their onstage energy like ravenous wolves.
For the Hip, it’s always been about the live performance. It’s what got them signed in the mid-’80s when MCA Records president Bruce Dickinson caught them performing in Toronto. They’ve had almost 30 years of fine-tuning their craft, building up a rock show that’s hit its saturation point when it comes to onstage energy. And it all starts with lead singer Gordon Downie. Jumping about the Terminal 5 stage, writhing around his microphone stand, pointing into the audience and sometimes miming his own lyrics, it’s almost as if the band’s music is exorcising the singing right out of him. At times he’d even fill in the few moments where he wasn’t supposed to sing with indecipherable high-speed talk-singing narration (think David Byrne’s verses from “Once in a Lifetime”).
With a deep catalog of material to choose from, it felt like every song the Tragically Hip performed on Saturday night satisfied a different chunk of the audience—happy that the Hip had chosen to perform their favorite tune. And whatever songs they may have missed were likely covered in the six-song encore, finishing off the show with an all-out assault of some of their best work (“Bobcaygeon,” “Nautical Disaster,” “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)”). Perhaps disgruntled voters this past week were right: Maybe it really is time to move to Canada. —Dan Rickershauser
David Byrne and St. Vincent – Beacon Theatre – September 25, 2012
Two years ago, David Byrne gave a lecture in Brooklyn titled “Creation in Reverse,” a warm-up for his presentation at TED Talks. His thesis boiled down to the claim that music is determined by context—that is, the venue where music will be played influences and shapes the songwriting process. At the time, as a member of the audience, I was skeptical. Byrne’s argument seemed to have a misguided premise that didn’t sit right with me. I understand music to come from emotional states, rather than careful analytical thought, and Byrne was saying the exact opposite.
Two years later, sitting in the three-tiered, high-ceilinged and ornate Beacon Theatre, it all came together. Byrne and his latest collaborator, Annie Clark, known by the stage name St. Vincent, played each other’s music as well as songs from their excellent new album, Love This Giant. The project features plenty of horns, which serves as a glue and counterpoint to their distinct styles. And in the sprawling theater, the two brought an eight-piece brass section, along with a drummer and keyboardist, which reflected a level of forethought I didn’t think possible: They made and executed the perfect performance for the space.
Every detail of the show seemed planned for a maximal audience experience. Byrne, Clark and their band dressed in slightly varied arrangements of formal black-and-white clothing. They moved together and separately in choreographed patterns. It was visually striking in addition to being sonically engaging. But the greatest pleasure was definitely the sound—towering vocals with Byrne’s signature falsetto and phrasing complemented by Clark’s airy harmonies, her glitchy, menacing guitar solos and huge swells of orchestral horns.
Byrne’s Talking Heads classic “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” had all the charm and original sweetness of the original but with bounciness from the new arrangement. Clark’s recent singles “Cruel” and “Cheerleader” retained their off kilter yet melodic power, but with a largess befitting the night and space: Because this space and this night were special. Although the band could have easily stopped after playing “Burning Down the House” for the first encore, they came back and finished with “Road to Nowhere.” It was emotional to hear the song in the context of the night, capping off such a monumental performance. They finished and took a final bow. Those in the crowd, who had been on their feet since the first encore, roared with applause. It was over, and we knew it. But to finish, they walked out playing a little reappraisal. The band played on. —Jared Levy
(David Byrne and St. Vincent play the Beacon Theatre tonight.)
Photo courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com
As part of the Stories in High Fidelity series, tonight, The Bowery Ballroom hosts a cool round of storytelling, led by David Byrne, who will discuss “Creation in Reverse”—the ways that a venue and context can shape artistic creation. Additionally, Alan Light, the former editor-in-chief of Spin and Vibe, and Dan Kennedy, author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad and Loser Goes First, will also join the panel to add their two cents. But, of course, you can’t have a night at The Bowery without some live music, so the real pride of the Jersey Shore, Nicole Atkins, backed by Brooklyn’s ECHOecho, will be on hand, burning down the house.
Eddie Bruiser is a menace. As our RV neared Bonnaroo on Thursday afternoon, an already-sweaty Eddie incessantly urged me to ingest something I’d ordinarily otherwise never consider. (He claimed it was Aboriginal, but with its string of vowels and two sets of double g’s—one of them, strangely, silent—it was unpronounceable.) Sensing my reluctance, he said, “Come on, think of me as Pops Staples, and ‘I’ll Take You There.’” But despite my affinity for the Staple Singers’ soulful sounds, I was pretty sure blindly following Eddie’s lead would end disastrously, with me in a ditch or, worse, prison. And, yet, for some strange reason, like Alice before me, I decided to see what was down that rabbit hole. We didn’t sleep for days, but we sure did see a lot of music. —R. Zizmor
Tags: Beastie Boys, Bonnaroo, Booker T. and the DBT’s, David Byrne, Gov’t Mule, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Phish, Photos, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, Wilco, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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