HBO has released a new trailer for David Byrne’s American Utopia. Spike Lee, coming hot off of winning an Oscar for BlacKkKlansman as well as Da 5 Bloods, directed the performance. The performance was recorded during the show’s late 2019, early 2020 run on Broadway. The former Talking Heads frontman leads the way in what is described as a “one-of-a-kind, dynamic film” that is a “unifying musical celebration that inspires audiences to connect to each other and to the global community.” As we can see from the trailer, it does, at the very least, look like a unique experience.
The teaser trailer is brief and doesn’t give too much of the performance away. We get a sense for the stage set up, in addition to seeing David Byrne and his band parade around the stage in all grey suits, with various instruments, all while performing choreography to the various songs. Aside from the music, there is a politically-charged energy to it, with Byrne delivering an impassioned speech between numbers. Spike Lee filmed the movie with audiences in attendance during the show’s run from October 2019 to February 2020 at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre. It seems the audience’s energy in the room will help bring the show to life when it arrives on HBO.
In American Utopia, David Byrne is joined by his band of 11 musical artists from around the world as they perform hits from throughout the musician’s career. This includes songs from his 2018 album of the same name, in addition to classics like This Must Be the Place and Everybody’s Coming To My House. It also features a cover of Janelle Monáe’s Hell You Talmbout. As Byrne and company sing, dance, and play their way across the glittering gray stage, they welcome audiences into a joyous dreamworld where openness, optimism, faith in humanity, and social justice are paramount.
Brief monologues that help communicate his message are delivered by David Byrne throughout, peppered in among the music. He touches on various social topics, such as police brutality, voter turnout, climate change, immigration and challenges us to come together and grapple with these issues collectively. The movie was produced in partnership with Participant, River Road Entertainment and Warner Music Entertainment. David Byrne’s Todomundo and Spike Lee‘s Forty Acres production company produced alongside Mule Filmworks. RadicalMedia executive produced.
David Byrne is best known for his work in Talking Heads. The band was hugely influential and released eight albums, including the seminal Remain in Light, before going on hiatus in 1988. The Talking Heads were also the subject of the concert movie Stop Making Sense, which was released in 1984.. Byrne has since gone on to have a successful solo career. Spike Lee, meanwhile, has directed classics such as Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X. Lee most recently helmed Da 5 Bloods, which debuted on Netflix over the summer. American Utopia debuts October 17 on HBO and HBO Max streaming. Be sure to check out the new teaser for yourself.