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‘Stop Making Sense’ is Back at The Broadway to Rock Your Soul

“Stop Making Sense” transcends the idea that a concert film is just a musical performance being recorded.
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(Courtesy of A24)

 

No matter what kind of “music fan” you are, there’s a high likelihood that you’ve come across Talking Heads at some point in your lifetime.

Perhaps it was hearing “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” in a TikTok or “Once in a Lifetime” in a movie trailer. Either way, the influential music group has left its mark on society by standing out with their unique sound and melodies. While someone could argue that any of their eight studio albums are the band’s greatest achievement, many reward that title to their 1984 concert film “Stop Making Sense.

The film is directed by Jonathan Demme, who would win an Academy Award in 1992 for “The Silence of the Lambs.” The movie covers three nights of chaotic music performances in Hollywood’s Pantages Theater.

Join the celebration of what many consider to be “the best concert film of all time.

Superpowered Music & Dance

Like an MMA cage fight or triathlon, “Stop Making Sense” is a demonstration of how far the human body can be pushed. This is exemplified by the Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne.

As the show begins, Byrne sings “Psycho Killer” solo with a cassette player and guitar. This, seemingly, is a relaxed opening. Slivers of the storm to sneak through, however, in Byrne’s occasional and abrupt movements. He acts like he’s about to collapse.

Cut to 30 minutes later, Byrne is running laps around the stage, dripping gallons of sweat with each step he takes. As this happens, you watch as his bandmates stare in disbelief thinking, “How is he still going?” It seems at a certain point they evolve past the physical abilities of the average human and meet Byrne’s energy level. It’s an amazing sight to behold. 

Though the Talking Heads would release plenty of iconic songs following “Stop Making Sense,” it still feels as if every piece played in the film is just as big and recognizable as the last. There’s absolutely no time to breathe at any point. You’re constantly belting each song word-for-word or praying none of the performers die from dehydration. Hearing the crowd scream with joy as Chris Frantz’s drum drills into your ears, Jerry Harrison’s keyboard synthesizes your soul, and Tina Weymouth’s bass rips into your heart is a musical experience you simply cannot get anywhere else. 

More Than A Concert

Demme’s coverage of the performances locks audiences into the intensity of the stage. It holds them in a state of gleeful paralysis. It’s as if you are a ghost with nowhere else to go, but in the best place you can be.

Watching the film, it feels as if the band is moving faster in time than everyone else. Thanks to Demme’s camerawork, however, viewers can keep pace. We get to acknowledge everything without heart rates dropping below 120 beats per minute. It should also be mentioned that the concerts create some of the most striking visuals in the history of film. Images like the arms and belly buttons looming behind the band. Or, Bryne’s equally surreal and majestic “big suit.”

“Stop Making Sense” transcends the idea that a concert film is just a musical performance being recorded. Whether you are a long-time fan of the Talking Heads or completely new to the group, this record of musical history is something that cannot be missed.

A24 has re-released the film back into theaters with a 4K restoration. It can be caught at the Broadway Cinemas starting Sept. 29. An ode to music, film, art, life, death and happiness, “Stop Making Sense” is undoubtedly one of the greatest films of all time.

 

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@grahamcool8

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About the Contributor
Graham Jones
Graham Jones, Assistant Arts Editor
Graham Jones was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Utah to study film. Despite his passion for cinema, Graham joined the Chronicle to engage with the University of Utah community and pursue his love for journalism. Outside of the student media office, Graham can be found buried deep into the pages of a graphic novel or lip-syncing to the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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