Last night’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival opened with the groovy and unrelenting music of New Wave icon David Byrne. Byrne played a nearly-2 hour set of his material borne out of collaborations with Brian Eno, drawing from three Talking Heads albums and the albums My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and last year’s Everything that Happens will Happen Today. Byrne was on-form and his band drove the set with powerful, in-the-pocket grooves that brought the audience back to those halcyon days when the Talking Heads were a critically-acclaimed and popular band (even if some of the audience members, this one included, did not live those days). Fans dug versions of “Once in a Lifetime” and “Life During Wartime”, which were true to the original and featured, like many of the other songs, whacky antics from Byrne and his supporting cast, a mix of musicians and dances all clad in white.
This stop in Brooklyn was part of a larger “Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno” tour that has been going on since the fall of 2008 and will continue across the US and overseas to Europe for the summer. Celebrate Brooklyn is in it’s thirtieth year and is more popular than ever – this concert featured the largest crowd in the festival’s history. Celebrate Brooklyn is rocking an awesome line up – artists diverse as John Scofield, Big Daddy Kane, Femi Kuti, Dr. Dog, MGMT and Animal Collective (the last two are benefit concerts and, therefore, not free) will grace the Prospect Park Bandshell – and ya’ll should definitely get down there to enjoy the festivities. The only piece of advice that I can share is that it is essential to get there early. Once the crowd reaches overcapacity, the gates are shut and people left out have to watch from afar, which is still neat, but not quite the same.