During the 1980’s, I was into new wave and pop music. I regarded the Talking Heads as arty farty bullshit for people who were older than me, although I did like the hit songs such as “Burning Down the House”. Up until the other day, I regarded David Byrne as one of the most pretentious bastard in the world, except for perhaps Lou Reed.
Well, my opinion has changed. I got a chance to see David Byrne and St. Vincent because a friend had an extra ticket. I didn’t have to pay for it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I hadn’t bought a ticket to see them because I had those aforementioned prejudices against David Byrne, although I love St. Vincent.
I listened to their album on Spotify (Love This Giant) and I liked it. I am a sucker for anything with a horn section. I was also hoping he would play a few Talking Heads songs – the ones I like
After getting lost (as usual), I found the venue. I missed all of my freeway exits, because the freeways in Austin are marked for people who already know where they are going….I was really frustrated and stressed out because I was half an hour late to meet my friend. Finally, I found my seat and I was immediately soothed by the sounds of birdcalls and rain, which was playing before the show started. I liked that a lot.
David Byrne made an announcement over the loudspeakers before the show saying that photos and videos are allowed, but asking people to please not take photos with their iPads and to please not view the entire show through a gadget. This announcement should be made before every concert EVER.
Everyone walked out on stage, and it was so low key that I didn’t even realize that David and Annie (St. Vincent) were also on the stage. There were a lot of people, as you can see from the photo above. I knew that they were not fucking around because they had a guy playing a sousaphone on stage.
The show was really visually interesting, because there was choreography from everyone on stage and it was different for every song. At one point everyone was lying down on the stage and playing, including the horns! Lying on the floor playing a horn!! I have never seen that before.
Annie would do this little dance where she’d stutter-step across the floor. It reminded me of something Prince used to do, but she was less filthy about it:
David Byrne was really gracious and would step back when Annie sang. He would blend into the background and maybe do a funny dance but he let Annie have the spotlight. It was the most generous and gracious thing I’ve seen someone do on stage, and I was very impressed by that. He didn’t seem pretentious at all – he seemed humble.
I was pretty annoyed that everyone was sitting down during the show. I kind of figured this would happen since it was mostly greybeards and hipsters. After a pretty subdued number, everyone spontaneously erupted into a standing ovation, and the band just stood there. The longer it went on the more awkward it was, so they started bowing. You could tell that they weren’t sure what to do, so they walked off stage like it was time for an encore break. I am not sure if we missed out on some songs because of this affectionate outburst.
Then when the band came back, everyone was standing up and stood up for the rest of the night. Fucking finally!
I have to admit that when they played “Burning Down the House”, I lost my shit. I mean, I danced like no one was watching – I did the pogo, I sang along, I might have had a tear in my eye. That song was my JAM back in the day. (“The day” being my freshman year of high school.)
They ended the set by singing “Road to Nowhere”, and everyone marched off stage. All I could think about was that the people in the horn section were probably all in marching bands when they were kids and that was why they could remember all the crazy choreography for every song. It was kind of a heartwarming thought.
My advice to you is that if David Byrne and St. Vincent come to your town, you should go see them. My heart grew three sizes that day, and I no longer harbor an irrational hatred of David Byrne.