David Byrne
  • Josh Bis
  • David Byrne at the Fifth Avenue Theatre

My CityArts Fest began sipping cocktails inelegantly through glowing (HeinekenGreen, of course) straws in the lobby of Benaroya Hall while Ravenna Woods played their first of a dozen or three shows of the week for the festival's opening night party, but the fourth annual in-city music and arts festival didn't really feel like it began until I found myself filing into a fancy theater to see a rock show.

Placing bands in settings that make you wonder why they don't host bands more often feels like a hallmark of what makes the festival special (e.g., Belle & Sebastian or Ryan Adams in Benaroya, Cat Power at the Fifth Avenue); so I was really excited to see the pairing of David Byrne and St. Vincent from the comfort (and with the exceptional sightlines) of the gilded Chinese-inspired showroom. With the help of an eight piece sometimes-marching band, the pair essentially took turns rotating through their individual catalogs as well as performing together to bring to life music from Love this Giant, their written-by-email collaboration. Perhaps because of the setting, the staging felt a bit like a piece of musical theater without a plot: the band sometimes marching in circles around Byrne, menacingly advancing on Clark, or everyone dancing robotically or collapsing on the floor only to rise again when needed. Betraying my own personal fandom (and a headache enhanced by syncopated brass), I'd say the show felt most exciting when Annie Clark was in the spotlight, but acknowledge that the most dancing in the aisles occurred for Byrne classics. In particular, "Burning Down the House," which introduced Annie Clark to Talking Heads (by way of Revenge of the Nerds) brought down the house during the first encore as did second (and final) encore closer "Road to Nowhere."

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