Stop Making Sense is essentially a Talking Heads concert in movie form. Originally released in 1984, the movie was re-released and remastered in September of 2023. The movie starts with David Byrne playing “Psycho Killer”, arguably the band’s most famous song, on acoustic guitar with a boombox in the background. The second song in the lineup features Tina Weymouth (the band’s bassist), and gradually more and more members join alongside them. As the band plays, members of the crew assemble the set in real time. The band has multiple outfit changes but only wears neutral colors, allowing the focus to be almost entirely on the music and choreography.
What surprised me the most about the movie was how physical the performance was. Once each member of the band started playing they did not stop continuously moving one way or another. David Byrne even started running laps around the stage at an early point in the movie. The dancing that accompanied each song was very deliberate, and sometimes required every member of the band to move in unison. There was a particular emphasis on mirroring each other’s dance moves, making everything feel put together and sharp.
Light was another important aspect of the performance. The band at one point altered the lighting so they could disappear in and out of the darkness behind them. Byrne even dances with a lamp at one point, which is in direct contrast to the industrial lighting available to them on stage. The performance also has a brief intermission by the band Tom Tom Club which was formed by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, the band’s bassist and drummer.
Going in as a casual listener of the band, I was a little hesitant to go see the movie for myself. All of my reservations were completely thrown out of the window as soon as the first song started. It was definitely a worthwhile, and incredibly unique experience. Stop Making Sense is perfect for the big screen, and seeing it reignited my love for the Talking Heads music.
Photo from Fandango.com