Him & Her: Burning down Bass Concert Hall with David Byrne & St. Vincent – Music
David Byrne & St. Vincent at the Bass Concert Hall, 10.5.12 (by Shelley Hiam)
She and him have nothing against him and her. Granted, I missed Zooey Deschanel and Mr. Ward’s pairing at South by Southwest, but with the Austin City Limits Music Festival (now almost as chaotic as SXSW) a week away, perhaps the best headlining set was to be held last night at Bass Concert Hall – with David Byrne and St.Vincent burn the house.
Not that the pair play ACL – although one of the festival’s most memorable moments remains St. Vincent bleeding on his guitar at the 2007 rally – but in stark contrast to Dead Can Dance last month at the Moody’s and the flirtatious of girl group She & Him, former Talking Heads frontman and Ms. Annie Clark discuss a May/December chemistry of artistic wonder.
As tightly choreographed as a dance recital or an off-off-Broadway musical, the nearly two-hour gig still afforded Byrne moments of rapturous viewing as his Dallas-raised showman counterpart traversed the stage in high heels with her Angus Young guitar – a cherry red Gibson SG – strapped to her. In Clark’s first recall anecdote of finding Byrne through revenge of the nerds at the age of three, his fear exceeded his by only a decade or two.
Crickets on the AP complimented the brass minefield on stage 10 minutes before showtime, a tuba, two trombones, three saxophones all strategically placed on the bare stage, a trumpet, a flute and a French horn also in and among Byrne’s acoustic guitar and Clark’s electric. At a dozen pieces, St. Byrne’s sponsors weren’t a brass-augmented rock band. It was a marching band with a drummer, keyboards and no bassist.
And no one stayed there. They parted like the Red Sea, snaked several conga lines, and moved in square-dance formality with all the vigor of a children’s matinee for Hans Christian Anderson. The Emperor’s New Clothes. Byrne put the brassy chorus through most of the beats, as the freedom of his cordless microphone allowed him. Clark, somewhat anchored to her mic stand and guitar pedals, acted as the lead ballerina.
booklet for this twelfth night comes from the haunting new duo I love this giant, which proved to be the backbone of the 90-minute main set. “Who” and “Weekend in the Dust” opened the performance as they do on the record – edgy eccentric comes rhythmic savant meets eclectic/electric muse – and in all three spots cracked the “Ice Age” with Clark’s crystal-clear songcraft and delivery. Byrne countered with a new missing link “I’m a monkey”, supple with a Heads-like quirk.
They came and went, he (“Like Humans Do”) and she (“Marrow”), with her occasional audience capitulation for the best measure (“This Must Be the Place”). Restlessness I love this giant closer, “Outside of Space and Time” ended the main part, and the two encores began with (“Cruel”) her and ended in her past, “Burning Down the House” and “Road to Nowhere “, for which a full house danced in the aisles and balconies.
Him: inspired, invigorated. Elle: the new star of indie rock. David Byrne & St. Vincent together: “Outside space and time.