David Byrne’s American Utopia On Broadway

Is this the white “Homecoming”?

Yes, Beyonce stunned Coachella with a huge production featuring the ethos and activities of historically black colleges.

David Byrne stuns Broadway with a big production featuring the ethos of the Caucasian art school experience of the last century.

Now the Byrne story is not new, he’s been trooping this show around the world for over a year now, hell, he even did it at Coachella.

Now Coachella is the dominant festival in the U.S., and it leads the summer festival circuit but…it has now switched generations, it has gone pop/hip-hop (of course with EDM, a constant, in the Sahara tent). The days of reuniting old rock bands that even most baby boomers don’t care about are gone. Now it’s all today, every day.

But David Byrne is positively yesterday. I remember going to KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas in 1992 and the girls in front of me wondering who this guy was on stage.

But Byrne kept pontificating and making music and art instead of becoming defeated and stopping, or going on tour as an oldies act. He’s kinda like Robert Plant, but with a whole lot less attention. Yes, Byrne’s a critic’s darling, the “New York Times” and other sophisticated outlets keep featuring his words and reviews of his art, but it’s been for an ever-dwindling audience until this.

While his contemporaries are going on the road in a final dash for cash, Byrne has reinvented what once was and is adding in new flavor to boot. Furthermore, unlike the music of yore, like the music today, the show is an experience, you cannot get it on wax, not even a streaming service, you have to be there!

But, for some reason they did not include Yondr sleeves at previous shows, so you can see what it’s actually like.

Then again, Byrne isn’t Springsteen. Byrne is cold whereas Springsteen is hot. Springsteen wants to shake your hand and get in your blood whereas Byrne wants to keep you at a distance, marveling. You could talk about your life if you met Bruce, about Asbury Park, guitars and cars, if you met David…you’d probably keep your distance, you appreciate his art, but you’re not sure you’ve got anything in common.

Now Beyonce batted you over the head to convince you. She was about domination.

Byrne believes if he just does his act, you’ll come closer, you’ll have to see it, like a moth comes to a flame. It’s like Byrne is inside a snow globe, and Beyonce is working out with you at the gym. They’re both performances from their world, but they’re very different.

Now if you go to Byrne’s site and click to buy tickets, you’ll be stunned that there seem to be ones available for nearly every show:

David Byrne’s American Utopia – Hudson Theatre

Then you click through and you see there are singles, not two together. Or just seats available here and there. This show is a success (although it’s hard to make money on Broadway). Furthermore, tickets are reasonably priced, at least by Broadway standards. Sure, you can go on Saturday night and pay $329 to be up close and personal, but after the first ten rows the tickets on the side are all under $200, and to sit that close at the show of a baby boomer superstar in a typical venue, you’d probably pay even more.

But still, most people don’t know.

Beyonce is one of the biggest stars in the world, she gets blanket coverage in all media. But David Byrne? It’s slow, baby boomer word of mouth. Furthermore, people have to overcome their bias, believing they’ve seen it all before.

But they haven’t. “American Utopia” is a great leap forward, kinda like “Stop Making Sense.”

And this could be the only way to sell new music. If you’re not in the Spotify Top 50, it’s almost like you don’t exist at all. People are overwhelmed, they won’t even find you even if they’re interested. But chances are they’re not, interested in your new music, that is.

So you take it on the road, to where people can see it.

Word of mouth is gonna be incredible. As the shows play, the story will get bigger and bigger. This is the opposite of dropping it, hoovering up cash and moving on. This is about long term. Everything’s about long term these days, even “new” stuff, how long did it take Lizzo to break?

But what is most fascinating about the Byrne show is the conception, as in how did he come up with this?

That’s the essence of art. People think it’s all about execution, but that is wrong. The Ramones were a concept, that pushed music in a whole new direction. Even better is the abstract impressionist painters, you say you could do that, but you didn’t and couldn’t come up with it!

Byrne’s visual art background seeded this show. He’s demonstrating his roots, where he comes from.

And that’s just as important as where Beyonce comes from.

Then again, if you’re white…

Oh, don’t get me wrong, but with the self-cancellation of whites, with everybody talking about “white privilege,” many don’t want to acknowledge the breakthroughs of those not of color.

But this is one.

“I Zimbra”

“Burning Down The House”

Comments are closed