And you may find yourself in another part of the world.
And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? On Broadway?
With one of the finest minds in music history, David Byrne is known for his unparalleled creativity in a number of different mediums.
Byrne effortlessly stands out amongst the rest, both within his music and throughout his vivacious stage presence. His goofy oversized coat will always serve as a testament and a symbol to his relentless imagination and his overwhelmingly fun work with Talking Heads. Any track from Remain In Light is the absolute definition of an earworm.
Though one could argue music is timeless, it is fairly indisputable to claim that all artists eventually lose relevance at some point, whether during or after their career. However, David seems to dodge any notion of being forgotten and blatantly refuses to quit new ideas. Nearly fifty years following his debut work, David Byrne is back and working in a new medium: Broadway.
Byrne’s American Utopia takes viewers through an interactive journey of over twenty songs, spanning across the entire discography of both Talking Heads and work from his solo career. If you’ve seen the film Stop Making Sense, you’ll understand that Byrne does his best to fill the stage with an excessive amount of people and instruments, creating a glorious cacophony for viewers. Shying away from any monstrous stage presence, David actually does quite the opposite within his new medium. Onstage, he is joined by eleven musicians, all equipped with only handheld instruments. Dressed in matching gray suits and completely barefoot, David and his team are limited to acoustic guitars, marching snare drums, flutes, and small-scale keyboards.
Performing on Broadway has further developed Byrne’s ability to create and innovate means of connecting with his audience. American Utopia tells the compelling narrative of a shy person finding themselves, highlighting an exciting character arc told through a series of exuberant dances, melodic songs, and introspective soliloquies. Almost two hours of explosive energy are packed into an incredibly minimalistic performance; the show is a mesmerizing spectacle of marching, dancing, and singing.
With an obvious emphasis on energy, it almost seems taboo for something as rhythmic, engaging, and ultimately danceable as American Utopia to occur on Broadway.
Remember, at a Broadway performance, the audience is sitting down. This lack of crowd engagement — nobody is singing along or dancing around — might seem daunting, but Byrne utilizes a still crowd to his advantage.
A Broadway crowd actually looking for an anecdote gives David more freedom in his storytelling aspect. It allows him to interact with the audience, to talk directly to viewers and explain the journey along the way. Byrne acts equally as a narrator and the frontman of this exhibition; it is reminiscent of a musical, but not quite the same. Known to talk a bit excessively during his live shows — not without complaint from his audience — Byrne has crafted a medium in which he can prolifically speak his mind to a group of viewers who will sit down and listen.
Byrne and his band just finished their first twenty week run of the show and they’ll be bringing it back in September of this year If you’re in the New York area and you’re looking for a few hours of riveting energy and an eccentric story, you won’t want to miss out on this.
And the heat goes on.
Robbie Baker is a Cal Poly Environmental Management and Protection freshman and a KCPR staff member. He wrote the article. Cole Marcus is a Cal Poly Architecture freshman and a KCPR staff member. He created the illustration.