Concert films everyone must see #1: Stop Making Sense

If you have not yet seen Stop Making Sense…….I am so jealous of you. I wish I could erase it from my mind just so I could watch it for the first time again, and again, and again.

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In its simplest form, it is a concert film. But beyond that, it’s art, and choreography, and cinematography, and pure physical energy all rolled into the most entertaining 90 minutes I’ve ever watched on a screen. You can pick any single song from the show and it will be a thrill to watch, however, this is a concert definitely best experienced from beginning to end. The gradual build-up and killer direction by Jonathan Demme make it feel like you’re right there on stage with the band, which is why going to a screening of it is SO FUN.

I first saw Stop Making Sense at the Independent back in February; you may recall me mentioning it right before our trip to Amsterdam. I don’t think I ever wrote here what a fun experience that was: it was a film screening-turned-dance party, with the entire crowd singing along and going wild over every DB dance move. After that night, I was completely smitten with the band, and David Byrne. In fact, Talking Heads became the constant background music to our Amsterdam trip, so now all these songs subconsciously make me think of art museums and bicycles and looking out the window at rows of canal houses. <3

In short, it’s one of my more personal musical obsessions. I can very much associate the music of Talking Heads with people and places I love, more so than a lot of my other favorite artists. So even though I was a late bloomer to a band that is so universally well known and appreciated, I’m glad the music came to me when it did. I needed something to latch onto in 2015, and this has definitely been it.

9 piece band
The extended band (poor Chris left hanging!)

So last week when I saw that Stop Making Sense was showing again, this time at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, you bet I bought tickets right away. Like the first screening, it was just me and Alex, although I’m dying to bring along people who haven’t seen it yet. I want to convert all my friends to Byrneism with me!

…come to the dark side…we have sweet dance moves…

As expected, the audience at the New Parkway was just as awesome as the audience at the Independent [can I also take a second to gush about how incredibly cool the New Parkway is? I mean just look at it]. Even though the setting was a movie theater rather than a music venue, it didn’t stop people from getting up and running circles around the room during “Life During Wartime,” or cheering every time Tina was featured, or screaming “THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE!” at the top of their lungs during “Once In A Lifetime.” Man, I am convinced that any time this film is showing in a public setting within 75 miles of me, I am going to go. I don’t think it will ever get old.

At the end of the film, DB invites the whole crew onto the stage and thanks them in front of the crowd. The people behind the scenes don’t always get recognition, so it’s cool that they get show time too. I suppose DB is known for appreciating the under-appreciated.

So yeah, Stop Making Sense is a concert film, but it’s also a celebration of filmmaking, and production, and a bunch of things coming together to create one very, very cool thing. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re so lucky. Please invite me along when you do.

Happy Byrneday

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In celebration, 5 of David Byrne’s Weirdest/Best Moments:

1. Interviewing himself. In case you ever wanted to see DB in drag. Or blackface. (Also features the Big Suit.)

2. “Once in a Lifetime” music video. Classic.

3. Space Ghost Coast to Coast interview. Long hair don’t care! This clip just gets funnier and funnier each time I watch it. “NOT A CROUTON MAN!”

4. Singing “Miss America” while playing maracas and dancing in a kilt. Song starts at 1:24, spastic DB dance party starts at 3:00. This clip is tied in weirdness with the music video for the same song.

5. “Psycho Killer” in a skinless body suit. This makes me so uncomfortable but I CAN’T STOP WATCHING.

And to not end on such a creepy note, here is a somewhat recent video featuring more top-notch Byrne moves (side note: St. Vincent is the bomb and I can’t wait to see her at Outside Lands this year. I’m holding out hope that she might bring out a special guest at some point….):

Happy bday, DB. Never stop being weird.

Record stores of Amsterdam (a new travel hobby)

What better way to combat jet lag than writing a blog post at 4am? I’m sure I’ll be coming back to edit this one once I “wake up”…

Anyway, I’m back from my trip and it would appear that I’ve fallen in love with Amsterdam.

The city is beautiful (even in cold weather), and the people are a wonderful, eclectic bunch. In addition to cruising canals, observing cat art, and partying with D’Angelo at the Paradiso, we spent a good amount of our trip doing what we do best: perusing rows of used records at hole-in-the-wall shops. I had no idea until we’d spent a few days there, but Amsterdam has A LOT of record stores. We went to eight(!) different places within walking distance from where we were staying, and there were still at least five more that we didn’t get to. With the limited space I had in my suitcase, I settled on four albums:

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (Dutch pressing). After making this purchase, we went down the street to this bar (“brown cafe”). The bartender saw the bag and asked “Is that a long-playing record?” and then when we showed him, gleefully remarked, “Ooh, it’s a retro record!” I love the Dutch.
Rain Dogs – Tom Waits (German pressing). I couldn’t pass it up. My dad was awesome enough to give me a (his only?) copy of this album, after I’d searched for an original version for a year. Turns out I just needed to go to Amsterdam to find it! Dad, want a “made in West Germany” version of Rain Dogs?
Fear of Music – Talking Heads (Dutch pressing). My musical theme of this trip was definitely Talking Heads, so I was pretty excited to find a new album to add to the collection, made in Holland no less!
77 – Talking Heads (Japan pressing). I was just trying to get any old version of this record, and the one I happened to find was from Japan! Pretty awesome:

IMG_2182 copy

It was interesting to note the slight differences between US and foreign (in this case, Dutch) record stores. Like, Mike Nesmith has his own divider in several of these stores, even the tiny ones (is he a bigger deal in the Netherlands?) and Kraftwerk is everywhere.

So if you’re ever in the area and, you know, want to look for second hand vinyl, I can highly recommend the following:

– RecordFriend Elpees – Cool selection, good prices, plus I love the name. :) There were cute signs in the entrance saying things like “I’m a record friend.” RECORDFRIEND! This is where I got the two Talking Heads albums.
– Record Palace – Great place by Paradiso and Museumplein. I wish I knew more about “Nederbeat,” because there was a lot of it here. This is where we bought Astral Weeks.
– The others: Concerto (tons of new and used vinyl, plus CDs, books, DVDs), Distortion Records (tiny, cluttered, and awesome), City Records (really friendly owner, and also where I got Rain Dogs), Waxwell Records, Velvet Music, and Second Life Music (the three of which were about a 5-minute walk from each other).

Conclusion: besides the fact that Amsterdam has beautiful canals and lots of friendly cats, I would go back just for the record stores.

IMG_2087LP’s, ???, & more…

who is it / what is it

{Just dropping in to say that my posts in the next few weeks might be limited, due to that aforementioned trip to AMSTERDAM!}

Lately, things have been busy and I’ve been filling up the remaining spare moments vigorously digesting the Talking Heads discography. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that my prior knowledge of this band was limited to the two records we have (Speaking in Tongues and Little Creatures)—both of which are awesome—and an old DVD of True Stories that I’ve owned for almost 15 years and maybe watched once. But recently when I went home, I found a copy of Talking Heads: 77 and could.not.stop. listening to it. It’s just so funky fresh.

I swear, there’s nothing better than diving into a band’s repertoire and the excitement of knowing that there’s still SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC I haven’t listened to yet. Sometimes things get hectic, and for a few hours or days I forget about whatever music or movie or nerdy obsession I have going on at the moment, and then I’ll leave work and suddenly remember those videos I have queued up and the albums I need to find, and I get SO PUMPED. This is one of those times: a blissful discovery phase.

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Even though it’s showing the night before we leave for Europe, I really want to go to this upcoming screening of Stop Making Sense. I’m trying not to spoil too much of it, but did watch the below video which only confirmed the fact that I need to see this film:

How can one band be so cool?