(HBO MAX) I realized some time ago that I only have time for three media interests at once. Back in 2019, that meant that I was watching film, reading novels, and attending theater. Consequently, I let music, especially live music, slip by the wayside.

Granted, most of the live music I previously attended was of the small venue variety, crowded beer halls and the like — not intricately coordinated shows like DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA. It’s been long enough since I’ve seen a show like this — the last time was probably at Illinois’ Ravinia several years ago — but the staging here is phenomenal. Everyone is lock-step with each other, the lighting is phenomenal, and while the stage is sparsely adorned, the chain-link curtains that surround the stage are inventively used and abused.

It’s an undeniably fantastic, untethered performance, filled with joy and a few sobering moments, all amazingly captured by Spike Lee — no stranger to the stage — who effortlessly captures the above, all while making his own imprint on the show.

It’s the rare live musical performance that is almost as evocative at home as it would be in-person. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it and, while I fully acknowledge that it’s severely idealistic, it’s a soothing balm in these times.

(If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, check out this interview between Byrne, Spike, and Dennis Lim, and check out this interview for more on the choreography.)