My former roommate was a renaissance man of sorts, the kind of guy who blew through pastimes with maximum enthusiasm and minimal commitment — rock climbing, snowboarding, bicycling, weightlifting, and on and on. As a result, our living room began accumulating many relics from his various activities, a pile we started referring to as his “hobby graveyard.” David Byrne tends to follow his commitments through to the finish, but he has similarly wide-reaching interests, ranging from bicycling to musical theater. His latest endeavor is perhaps the most surprising thing he’s ever done.
Contemporary Color is the former Talking Head’s stab at color guard, the military marching tradition involving flags, rifles, and sabers. Perhaps you remember it from halftime of your high school football games, assuming you’re the type who ever emerged from under the bleachers. According to The New York Times, Byrne has paired “10 teenage color guard teams from Canada and the United States with musicians including Kelis, St. Vincent, Devonté Hynes and Nelly Furtado. The composer Nico Muhly will collaborate with Ira Glass, the host of This American Life, on one piece, while Mr. Byrne will also contribute an original number.”
Watch a trailer for the event below.
UPDATE 3/9: Contemporary Color has added three more names to its impressive roster: Lucius, Ad-Rock, and Money Mark. The latter two Beastie Boys associates will team up on the same performance, which, given their fruitful history together, makes a lot of sense. Here’s what Money Mark had to say about it:
Modern dance and jazz meets drill team meets Esther Williams — without the water — meets community theater. Sounds like my kind of crew! Plus, I get a chance for a high school do-over. Glad to be part of Contemporary Color!
The official team pairings have also been announced:
Field of View + St. Vincent
Alter Ego + Nico & Ira
Les Eclipses + David Byrne
Mechanicsburg HS + HTDW
Emanon + Tune-Yards
Ventures + Nelly Furtado
Black Watch + Devonte Hynes
Shenendehowa + Lucius
Brigadiers + Kelis
Somerville HS + Ad-Rock & Money Mark
Contemporary Color will be performed four times this summer thanks to a dual commission from the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival: first, 6/22-23 at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, then 6/27-28 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.