David Byrne American Utopia: Spike Lee’s Joyous, Elegant Concert Film

David Byrne’s American Utopia presents a live recording of a Broadway performance of a modified version of the album American Utopia, including several songs from throughout Byrne’s career.

Byrne performs alongside 11 musicians, all acting with wireless or portable equipment.

American Utopia
Byrne and his supporting musicians standing onstage with the bottom of the photo melting into a wave

Official poster

World-premiering at the 2020 Toronto Film Fest, it was broadcast on HBO and made available for streaming through HBO Max on October 17, 2020.

Helmed in elegant and exhilarating style by Spike Lee, David Byrne’s American Utopia is a concert film that doubles as a joyously cathartic celebration.

Depicting hope in a tumultuous world, American Utopia’s resonance isn’t so much one of joy versus despair, as it is connection versus isolation.

Cast

David Byrne – lead vocals, occasional guitar, percussion
Chris Giarmo – backing vocals, dancing, melodica, percussion
Tendayi Kuumba – backing vocals, dancing, percussion
Karl Mansfield – keyboards, backing vocals, musical director, percussion
Angie Swan – electric guitar, backing vocals, percussion
Bobby Wooten III – bass, backing vocals, percussion
Mauro Refosco – percussion, drums, backing vocals, musical director
Tim Keiper – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Gustavo Di Dalva – percussion, backing vocals
Jacquelene Acevedo – percussion, drums, backing vocals
Daniel Freedman – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Stephane San Juan–drums, percussion, backing vocals

Songs

“Here” (from American Utopia)
“I Know Sometimes a Man Is Wrong” (from Rei Momo)
“Don’t Worry About the Government” (from Talking Heads: 77)
“Lazy” (from Muzikizum by X-Press 2)
“This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” (from Speaking in Tongues)
“I Zimbra” (from Fear of Music)
“Slippery People” (from Speaking in Tongues)
“I Should Watch TV” (from Love This Giant)
“Everybody’s Coming to My House” (from American Utopia)
“Once in a Lifetime” (from Remain in Light)
“Glass, Concrete & Stone” (from Grown Backwards)
“Toe Jam” (from I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat by The Brighton Port Authority)
“Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” (from Remain in Light)
“I Dance Like This” (from American Utopia)
“Bullet” (from American Utopia)
“Every Day Is a Miracle” (from American Utopia)
“Blind” (from Naked)
“Burning Down the House” (from Speaking in Tongues)
“Hell You Talmbout” (Janelle Monáe cover from The Electric Lady)
“One Fine Day” (from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today)
“Road to Nowhere” (from Little Creatures)
“Everybody’s Coming to My House: Detroit” (End Credits

Credits:

Directed by Spike Lee
Produced by Spike Lee, David Byrne

Written by David Byrne
Music by David Byrne
Cinematography Ellen Kuras
Edited by Adam Gough

Production company: HBO Films, Participant, River Road Entertainment; Warner Music Entertainment, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, RadicalMedia, Todomundo

Distributed by HBO (U.S./Canada)
Universal Pictures (international)

Release date: September 10, 2020 (TIFF) October 17, 2020 (US)

Running time: 105 minutes