Everybody's Coming to Your House
September 24, 2020 8:13 AM   Subscribe

posted by Lutoslawski at 8:15 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Now, personally, I want an opera version of Here Lies Love, but this is awesome!
posted by sagc at 8:16 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by maddieD at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was lucky to catch the show on tour, but from way, waaaaaay up in the rafters. Great for seeing the overall choreography, but none of the details. This will flesh that out nicely.

That said, I just finished reading Chris Frantz' memoirs, and at times, my love for Dave was definitely... challenged.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2020 [7 favorites]

I saw the tour and it was amazing, I'm sort of sad that the whole pandemic thing killed any chance of seeing it again in New York. Really looking forward to seeing how it works on stage.
posted by GuyZero at 9:36 AM on September 24, 2020

my wife and I live in Boston and were around when it was doing its pre-Broadway run here last fall, but we couldn't afford to go then. We managed to budget ourselves into being able to go down to see in New York in January, right before COVID and we both feel so very lucky to have had the chance. It's a transformative experience and I hope that more musicians and bands take inspiration from the unwired choreography to come up with more creative performances.

Also, if you're interested in the inspiration for this show, you should check out Contemporary Color (Kanopy, via your local library). Byrne did a deep dive on colorguards and got the idea of syncing their choreography to music, and a lot of colorguard/marching band influences follow into the choreography of American Utopia.
posted by bl1nk at 9:47 AM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I used to like Byrne until I realized how pretentious he was with that "How Music Works" book. Anyone ever hear his opera duet with Rufus Wainwright from one of his solo albums? Ear-splittingly bad. Rufus cannot sing in tune, Byrne's French is atrocious, and you wanna talk musical phrasing? Byrne was content to trash classical music and proper training in his book on how music works ::eye roll::, but this track? This is NOT how music works!
posted by Chickenring at 9:49 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was the last thing I saw before the pandemic. It was so joyous.
posted by Mavri at 9:51 AM on September 24, 2020

Huh, Chickenring, that's.. not what I got from that book, and I really enjoyed it. I remember the book mostly talking about how the common venues/performance spaces influence the kinds of music made. And then some nitty-gritty on the industry side of things.

I did listen on audiobook on a very long hike so totally possible I missed the trash-talking, though.
posted by curious nu at 10:11 AM on September 24, 2020

I saw the tour at Forest Hills Stadium and loved it. The American Utopia album was kinda hit-or-miss for me, and a fair number of the misses were in the tour setlist, but everything else in that setlist slapped. I'll never forget seeing the whole damn percussion section come out at the start of "I Zimbra". It was wild. Can't wait to see this.
posted by SansPoint at 10:13 AM on September 24, 2020

My funny story about the ongoing David Byrne debate: He was invited as a guest at the institution my wife works at. Without reading any Talking Heads-adjacent bios, I did had the sense that he was a prickly character and told my spouse to expect as much. However, she thought he was "wonderful," so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It seems like he's just somebody who wants to do his own thing.
posted by anhedonic at 10:41 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm very intrigued by Spike Lee's work on this, and I really appreciate the interview linked in the OP, which lays out his involvement: "Lee worked with Byrne to create specific shots and angles that would make his camera a participant in it all" and "would try see the show every week of its run."

I am a big fan of Lee's film of Passing Strange, and I'm glad to learn about how he and Byrne collaborated on this project. Based on that - and all the appreciative comments in this post from MeFites who saw the show - I'm looking forward to seeing this.

Thanks for posting this, Ipsifendus!
posted by kristi at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I saw this on Broadway and it was amazing!! My face hurt from smiling the whole time. Definitely going to stream this on repeat. Will be a great escape from the current shitshow that is life.
posted by elvissa at 10:48 AM on September 24, 2020

Of the dozen plus shows I saw in the year leading up to the pandemic closure of Broadway, this was far and away my favorite. Afterwards, I walked across the street to The Long Room and had a few drinks with a bunch of industry folks. We all agreed that we'd happily see it again--not a small achievement. I've been listening to the cast album at least weekly since March. I was even lucky enough to work on it in a small capacity. I'm really looking forward to watching this, though it'll probably make me cry. Fuck I miss my job.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:51 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Went to the show on kind of a whim a couple of years ago and was blown away! I was impressed with the new songs live, but was a bit disappointed when I bought American Utopia album afterwards. It didn't seem to capture the joy that I experienced at the live show. Maybe I'll have better luck with the cast album. Super excited to see this concert film, especially because Spike is involved!

Chickenring, I'm guessing you're an big opera fan and Byrne & Wainwright's style of singing didn't do what you thought it should. Personally, I didn't hear any wrong with the song you posted. I agree that sometimes Byrne's pretentiousness rubs the wrong way, but that's what artists do. Sometimes they score, and sometimes they don't. Points off though, for how he apparently treated the rest of the Talking Heads back in the day.
posted by ericthegardener at 11:09 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was very disappointed in both the music and the bicycle books... he is always interesting in interviews, so I'm not sure why those books were so dull.

I am *really* put out that our local public library system bought many copies of the "how music works" book, but has very few real books on music theory or harmony. (It does have the "dummies" book on music theory, which doesn't go very far, but might help someone.) This isn't Byrne's fault of course.
posted by Vegiemon at 11:31 AM on September 24, 2020

Saw this in Manchester. Having had three windows open to try and book tickets when they went on sale at three venues, this was the only one that came through - it was well worth the effort and expense, probably the best Big Budget Gig I've seen. Excited to see the filmed version.

(I'm also on Team How Music Works Is Great, though, so it seems like I'm a fanboy of sorts?)
posted by deeker at 11:35 AM on September 24, 2020

I wanted to feature Lee a bit more than I was able to in the post; Byrne seems to be doing a full-blown promotional interview circuit for the film, but I could only find one where Lee discussed the film. It's striking to me that Byrne has now had concert films directed by both Jonathan Demme and Spike Lee, both of whom I think of as distinctly New York filmmakers who came to prominence in more or less the same era as Byrne himself did with Talking Heads.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:59 AM on September 24, 2020

My neighbor is the musical director for American Utopia (and plays keys in the show - he's the tall bald guy). Through him I got to meet Byrne, who dutifully posed for post-show pics while nursing a Heineken. I'm sure it's among the least fun things to do for a famous musician, but he was entirely gracious, even as I rambled on about how much I enjoyed How Music Works.

It seems like he's just somebody who wants to do his own thing.

Yup, exactly. His polymathic approach is inspiring.
posted by bassomatic at 12:08 PM on September 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

I didn't see the tour, but I'm really looking forward to the film. I'm a musician, and I loved How Music Works as well as Bicycle Diaries. As far as Byrne himself goes, from his writing, he always comes off as very thoughtful (not necessarily just in the "gee, that was sure nice of you to help that person across the street" way, but in the literally "full of thought" way), which is a stark contrast to how he's sometimes described. In How Music Works and in interviews, he has described himself as having Asberger's or being autistic, so perhaps he should get a little leeway in terms of his past interpersonal interactions. And, people change and improve. He's probably not the same person he was when he was touring around in a bus 40 years. So I'm not really going to let the fact that he doesn't really get along with former bandmates keep me from enjoying his current state.
posted by jonathanhughes at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm not a huge opera buff but was conservatory trained, not that makes me any more of an authority on anything, but it definitely makes it difficult to listen to Rufus Wainwright singing out of tune. And mind you, I'm as open to alternate tuning systems and stylish vocal work as anyone; I've loved and performed microtonal music, love experimental electronica and all kinds of international music. But if you're gonna do the timeless duet from The Pearl Fishers, I mean, be in tune! And I don't mean that like, ohhh Rufus is a pop singer, he's "doing something" with it .. sorry but no, he's attempting to sing with good intonation but failed.
posted by Chickenring at 12:41 PM on September 24, 2020

It's no crime to not like Rufus Wainwright.
posted by GuyZero at 1:10 PM on September 24, 2020

In How Music Works and in interviews, he has described himself as having Asberger's or being autistic, so perhaps he should get a little leeway in terms of his past interpersonal interactions.

When people talk about Byrne being kind of shitty, I assume it's less about his prickly personality and more about him screwing his bandmates out of songwriting credits and royalties.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:16 PM on September 24, 2020 [7 favorites]

Byrne's French is atrocious

Vous dites ça, mais il pourrait se lancer vers la gloire OK.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:57 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

It's been a real drag learning how much ill will there was among the members of the Talking Heads. But from Frantz and Weymount specifically, I've heard about an equal amount of complaining that 1) Byrne was a nightmare to work with, and 2) how inconsiderate it was for him to walk away when he did. It reminds me of that restaurant joke: "The food here is terrible! " "I know! And such small portions!"

Near as I can tell, they're the only ones trying to litigate this in the court of public opinion,.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:24 PM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I was lucky enough to see the tour, it was mucho glory from my distant seat; I'd be very curious to see Spike's perspective...

Byrne is obviously an odd cat (it's his persona) and he obviously did hog credit from his band for creative contributions (album artwork for Remain In Light was based on Weymouth's ideas). Tom Tom Club was meant to get away from his ego-driven projects, but they also eventually ran into credit-conflicts with Adrian Belew (one of the best contributors to Remain In Light).

How Music Works is an interesting book, not the final word on the subject...

Ah, Rufus, now he's also an odd cat! He sings all kinds of crazy songs, many of which I don't care for, but I respect his Kate-Bush-esque artistic weirdness...

How about a Rufus song? Tired of America.
posted by ovvl at 4:56 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I saw this on Broadway it seems like a hundred years ago, but only 9 months ago. It was wonderful, including the old theater it played in.

The point of Wainwright and Byrne singing the aria from "The Pearl Fishers" was to show that music is music. I'm an opera snob, but I thought it was fine in the context of the album, "Grown Backwards". They did not sing well, but they conveyed the emotional longing that can be found in opera, musicals and pop songs.

I'm looking forward to the movie.
posted by acrasis at 5:31 PM on September 24, 2020

I saw Byrne's tour for his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today [47m], his second album collaborating with Brian Eno. The tour was filmed for the 2010 movie Ride, Rise, Roar [1h30m], which was such a fun show to see live and also to get the DVD of. Totally a delightful time, and I can't wait for this new show to appear on HBO.

(My favorite track off this particular album is I Feel My Stuff, which is such an amazing build of musical ideas and emotion. For my ears, a real all time winner.)
posted by hippybear at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I saw this show in Paris when I was in town for a bicycle advocacy project meeting. I reached out to his agent beforehand to see if he'd be interested in showing up and sharing his perspective, but got no response.

What was cool for me was experiencing a true "show", and not just a concert as is my general form of consuming live music. And the appreciative Parisian audience.
posted by St. Oops at 9:33 PM on September 24, 2020

What was cool for me was experiencing a true "show", and not just a concert as is my general form of consuming live music.

When I saw him a decade ago, there was one number that was particularly well received by the audience with its presentation, and Byrne actually had the band perform the number a second time, to even greater applause. I'd never seen that happen ever in a show of any kind ever before. Was very cool.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was lucky to catch the show on tour, but from way, waaaaaay up in the rafters.

I was lucky enough to see the tour, it was mucho glory from my distant seat

Definitely an asset for enjoying the marchingbandesque formations.
posted by fairmettle at 3:05 AM on September 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

+1 on how great the live show was (I saw it in a mediocre venue from far away and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen). Also +1 on how mixed Byrne's other work can be. A friend and I were excited for his Long Now talk last year, which ended up being a shapeless, pointless hour of "Here's what Grandpa found on the Internet this week."
posted by PhineasGage at 9:41 AM on September 26, 2020

Saw it on tour from the balcony’s front row center. Best concert I’ve ever seen (I’m pushing 60).
posted by neuron at 6:53 PM on September 26, 2020

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