David Byrne & St. Vincent | Chicago Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Tue., Sept. 18, 8 p.m. 2012
David Byrne and Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) wrote their new collaborative album, Love This Giant (4AD/Todo Mundo), mostly from afar, electronically swapping and tweaking sound files and lyrics. That kind of long-distance cooperation can work wonderfully, but in this case it seems to have produced an odd detachment. Their partnership arose when an AIDS and homelessness charity called Housing Works approached them about doing a show together, and though the album that resulted is coherent and enjoyable, it feels like a calculated creation rather than an organic expression. At some point Byrne suggested using brass bands to provide most of the instrumental support—the arrangements also include drum programming by producer John Congleton and guitar from both Byrne and Clark—and according to the press materials, that choice seemed to demand lyrics with big themes. He laments climate change on "Ice Age" and manages to sound sanctimonious in spite of himself on "I Should Watch TV," a song that attempts to embrace the act of losing yourself in mass media ("This is the place where common people go / A global franchise, one department store"). The impressive slew of top-notch horn players recruited for the album (including jazz and classical virtuosos and members of Antibalas) bring a broad variety of colors and textures to its hard-hitting pop songs with their puffing, pumping sounds. The record will probably end up an interesting curio, at best a footnote to the primary work of each artist, but it will still be interesting to see what Byrne and Clark do with this stuff live—especially since they're backed by an eight-piece horn section directed by Kelly Pratt (aka Bright Moments), plus a keyboardist and a drummer. They also promise to play material from each of their own careers. —Peter Margasak

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