In his latest book How Music Works, David Byrne explains how most of the music he encounters in his daily life has become "an annoying sonic layer that just adds to the background noise." Maddeningly, even live music has become background noise for many people—even when it's being performed for them by someone as iconic as David Fucking Byrne. That was the case last night, anyway, at Williamsburg Park, where an infuriating number of low-attention-span ingrates paid $50 to blather through yet another rock show, occasionally pausing to take a photo with their cell phones and then tweet about how they're "there." #SHUTUPWILLIAMSBURG
So it goes—at pretty much every concert we attend everywhere. Thankfully, Byrne and his collaborator St. Vincent were packing aural heat: an eight piece horn section, keyboard, drums and even theremin, and for the most part their sound was loud and rich enough that you could tune out the Chatty Cathies. Their loss—Byrne and St. Vincent have brought their album Love This Giant to vibrant life with their tightly-choreographed road show. Last night was the last of three NYC gigs for the well-matched musicians, and their new songs throbbed with a dramatic, serpentine theatricality, blossoming into full-bodied rapture and then stopping on a dime with stunning precision.
After shedding his blue blazer, Byrne spent the rest of the show in all white with suspenders that made him look like a Country Squire, especially when he grabbed a bugle to add a ninth brass element to the band. St. Vincent, in a beautiful royal blue midriff-baring dress, called him "our preacher," and the two artists were equally adoring of each other, taking turns on lead vocals and sprinkling their nearly-ninety minute set with selections from the own catalogs. We were ecstatic to hear Byrne bust out our Talking Heads' favorite "This Must Be the Place," and a rousing rendition of "Burning Down The House" got most of the blabbermouths grooving for a few minutes at least. Here's video:
Throughout the night, St. Vincent attacked her guitar with a heavily-distorted ferocity, producing a gritty tone that added an excellent jagged edge to the waves of pure brass. Love This Giant is big, swooning stuff that wears its upbeat heart proudly on its sleeve, and having heard it live, we're looking forward to giving the album another spin. But there are certain special things that can only be full created in a live concert, such as Byrne and St. Vincent "dueling" with a Theremin.