David Byrne plays to odd crowd at State Theatre
It wasn't really a shock to see that David Byrne isn't as much of an oddball as he was when he fronted the Talking Heads -- at least physically. He's a sliver fox of a man who has aged inarguably well and still has that thick, coated tenor that is so synonymous with the weird science funk from the 80s. Byrne was not on stage with a pile of synthesizers and wearing some attention grabbing gear. In fact, the opposite it true: Byrne's stage set up included your run-of-the-mill keyboard, drums, backup singers and guitar -- which he played himself -- but the oddball stuff showed up in different ways.
Byrne and his posse on stage were all wearing stark white outfits that looked like they came off a Carnivale-cruiseline-themed GAP ad. I was waiting for the Loveboat honk and the whole theater to shove off and sail down Hennepin Avenue. More strangeness abounded when Byrne's college-aged dance troupe -- yes, you heard me right - came out and did interpretive pieces onstage behind him while he seemed oblivious to it. Meanwhile, as Byrne belted out "I Zimbra" and "Strange Overtones" (a new track from his album with Brian Eno), the man of the hour effortlessly avoided committing to any one type of persona -- dare I say he was almost flat on that side of things. Meanwhile, ladies and gents were flopping around the stage like high school theater students with A.D.D. And perhaps the strangest part about this night was the one thing that was obvious after the show: David Byrne's crowd is still very much eccentric, even if he really isn't as much.
PHOTO BY STEVE COHEN; CLICK HERE FOR SLIDESHOW
Now, I realize I'm taking a risk of offending a buttload of people here -- but it really is all in love. These folks dig good music; I'm into that. But I must say my roommate and I were more entertained watching the people who showed up to this show than anything else (although Byrne's slightly more mellowed "Once In A Lifetime" was an incredible treat; it's on the soundtrack to Oliver Stone's new "W" movie). The whole experience felt like two distinct SNL skits: Like if "The Lovaaahs" (uncomfortably expressive 'couple' Will Ferell and Amy Pohler) were watching "Dieter" (minimalist technohead Mike Meyers) in between taking arts n' crafts workshops where you're allowed to smoke copious amounts of pot. Speaking of, there was an ENTIRE row of college students (probably the youngest people there) passing a massive blunt between them in the State fricking Theatre. Isn't that kosher at someplace less fancy pants -- like Roy Wilkins or something? The smell was overwhelming to someone who doesn't really like the pot (drag, I know), so we had to leave, weaving around dramatically convulsing fans and awkward slow-dancing couples clogging the aisle.
Overall, it was a unique experience and I'm glad I finally got to see Byrne live. He is a brilliant musician worthy of all the praise he still gets for both his past and current work. But I'll tell you one thing. You so-called "hipsters" out there who pride yourselves on being so "nerdy" (and were not in attendance last night) should really consort with some real nerds sometime, who all happen to too busy loving truly good music to care that they're being imitated by phonies.