Same As It Ever Was make flippy floppy with Talking Heads classics

by Ryan Snyder

Maybe they don’t look like the Talking Heads, but Same as It Ever Was effectively channeled every era of the group’s history at the Blind Tiger. (photo by Ryan Snyder)

God is in the details, as the old idiom goes. It’s protocol in the tributeband sphere, but for those undertaking the music of the Talking Heads, the detail is sacramental. Attempting to recreate the uncommon synergy achieved in Talking Heads music isn’t for the faint of heart either; achieving the band’s singular marriage

of weirdness and movement goes beyond simply regurgitating learned songs. It also makes it difficult to evaluate the efficacy of some guys simply wanting to play the music of a great band. To the Talking Heads purist, it can be done really, really well, or it can be just… done. When they’re just done, at best it’s on par with dancing in the living room to Stop Making Sense. When it’s done well, it can be a transporting experience.

Saturday night at the Blind Tiger saw more Talking Heads covers than a weekend with Phish, as Knoxville, Tenn. tributaries Same As It plenty of folks grooving to the recognizable basslines and the incessant, deep funk of the six-piece unit (they left the two backup singers and percussionist at home), though most were slow to warm as the set opened with a mix of the B-sides (“Thank You for Sending Me an Angel” and “Animals”) and the laconic (“And She Was”). The band’s two sets eventually covered every era of the Talking Heads’ discography, including some postdisco Bowie with a displaced cover of “Let’s Dance,” with heavy attention paid to Fear of Music through Speaking In Tongues.

The voice of fervent bandleader and cheerleader Geren was the genuine article, though distracting enough to detract from them, but it was clear from the outset that this band favored funkiness over faithfulness.

As the crowd took to the band, filling out the dance floor, Geren solicited requests early on. “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” was heard the most before they were eventually indulged with its sinewy bassline and sweet non-sequiturs, though “Blind” and “The Great Curve” were among a few obscurities tossed out. It feels terrific to hear such honest covers of songs that you rarely hear live anymore — “Nothing But Flowers” and “Slippery People” in particular — but they were missing the sort of ambivalence and accidental irony that gave

Ever Was tried their hands at giving people a taste of a band that they’ll never see live. Simply based on appearances, there were a few knocks against he was occasionally guilty of giving a little too the songs ballast in Byrne’s hands, and that’s them. There was no saucy chick bassist, no one much embellishment to the quirky patina with the ingredient that makes the dough rise. in the band really looked like a Talking Heads which Byrne often ends a line. When Byrne The calling card of the Talking Heads’ music member, there were no big suits, no lamp props originally sang these songs, the effect was was the concurrence of Byrne’s naked physical or boomboxes onstage, and I definitely don’t always somewhat surrealistic and unforced surrealism against the band’s staccato funk and remember David Byrne having spiky blue hair. — the words splashed like pictures across the African rhythms. The jury is still out on wheth- That said, Byrne substitute Curtis Geren and milieu of the band’s idiosyncratic funk and his er anyone can play completely faithful Talking his band created an almost carbon-copy sonic impressionistic body language revealed the Heads other than David Byrne himself. For the rendition of the Talking Heads. underlying subtext. Geren didn’t quite fully time being, however, the proof rests with those Geren and his brother Grant also head up inhabit his role as Byrne, only casually aping who say it wasn’t about David Byrne but about the Knoxville electronic chamber pop outfit the spastic and awkward poses and locomotion the band. Dancing is believing, and based on the Shortwave Society, but this dalliance of the eccentric frontman. It wasn’t enough the crowd bouncing ‘til they ached on Saturday seems a little more populist. There were to lend an element of realism to the songs, or night, nothing is better than that.