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.


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.

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