David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is a conceptual concert spectacle that portrays an ideal American society through music. “American Utopia” blends David Byrne’s music, from Talking Heads and his solo career, with theatrical, stunning choreography and stellar musical and stage production in a way that has never been done before.
The show’s choreography is nothing short of wonderfully mind-boggling. The band completely embodies not just the tempo and rhythm of the songs, but the message and feel of them too. The dancing gives a complete visual representation of the songs, each with their own diverse and unique movements.
The choreographed dancing provides an additional layer of ingenious creativity, as the dancers are also the band and are playing while performing the choreography. The absolutely amazing part of this is that neither the choreography nor the music suffers from the multi-tasking. Instead, they are one fluid motion that naturally go together. So much so, that the audience forgets that the two are not normally done at the same time and becomes another normality in David Byrne’s world of limitless musical and theatrical boundaries.
The sound design and music production is tremendously original, inventive, full and warm. There is almost an element of confusion in the theatre as it is thought to not be possible to create and project that much sound with just the instruments on stage. David Byrne even took a moment in the middle of the show to tell people that, even though he has nothing against these techniques, no off-stage instruments or backing tracks are being played.
To prove it, David Byrne methodically built up a song instrument by instrument as he introduced the band, until eventually the whole band was collectively playing “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On.)”
Perhaps the only thing that could match the production’s creative choreography and moving music, is the show’s grand and conceptual themes. “American Utopia” takes audience members on a musical experience that attempts to make sense of a completely nonsensical world. David Byrne and his band profoundly speak of the pleasures of the world and the yearning for true human connection, while also providing hope for the future. “American Utopia” portrays an ideal American society with it it’s own idea of the American dream.
The themes, concepts and questions expressed and asked by David Byrne through the songs and stories in between the songs, are deeply touching and quite emotional due to how human they are. David Byrne examines and articulates what it means to be a human on Earth and the pressures that come with it in such a touchingly poetic way. David Byrne’s acknowledgment of human connection and disconnection and the human mind’s endless interest and curiosity in other humans is unbelievably poignant.
“American Utopia” is able to discuss topics about the world in a refreshing way in that it is not cynical sadness. David Byrne and his band convey all the goodness and hope in the world while reminding audience members how much power they have and how in control they actually are.
“American Utopia” will leave you feeling warm, hopeful, joyful and optimistic. In a world that constantly seems on the brink of self-destruction, it is a wonderful feeling to be intimately reassured and reinvigorated. David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is a lot of things, but most of all, it’s indescribable.
David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is playing at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway through February 16.