David Byrne & My Tattoo Manifest Destiny


Show photos by Marc Fong //

Editor Note: Dara Shulman shares her story from the William Onyeabor tribute show at The Warfield in San Francisco May 6th. View the setlist here.

Manifestation: Making something, anything, everything happen because you want it. You think about it. You put your energy, your being into making this happen. 

I am a David Byrne fanatic. When I first listened to the Stop Making Sense album freshman year of high school, my life was changed forever. Byrne’s music reached a part of my soul that I didn’t even know existed.  Fourteen years later, my passion for his music has only amplified.

I saw David Byrne perform last year with the incredible St. Vincent and my mind was blown. Last night at The Warfield in San Francisco, I made my way to the very front row mid-show, stood directly in front of Byrne, and lost myself.  Atomic Bomb, a hodge-podge of musicians including Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, Kele Okereke from Bloc Party, Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem, Sinkane and many more played tribute to William Onyeabor as part of a fourteen-piece conglomeration.  I started off dancing with my friends, but then I needed, felt compelled by everything in my being to get closer to Byrne. I had already made a pact with myself, my manifestation, to get David Byrne to sign my left ankle two days ago. 

I held up my ticket with “I love you David” ballpoint pen-written upon it, hoping to get his attention to get an autograph. He is so damned professional that he did not flinch. I know we made eye contact (my bright orange shirt matched his bright orange hat), but he was so focused on his performance — I absolutely respect that. 

When the show was over, I could barely move. I just spent an hour standing inches away from a musician that quite literally changed my life. It was hard to breathe.  A roadie was kind enough to give me a set list taped on the speaker: fuck yeah.

Minutes later, I went to the stage door.  I chatted with the roadies and stage crew, “Any chance I can meet Mr. Byrne?”  While they saw my enthusiasm, there is only so much they can do. So, I waited. A member of the band came out. I introduced myself and congratulated him on a fantastic performance. “Is there any way I can meet David Byrne? I am a die-hard fan.”

He was kind enough to give me a wristband to go to the after party down in the basement of The Warfield.  “Put this on, relax, grab a drink and enjoy yourself.” “Okay.” Meanwhile, I’m freaking out in my head and trying to catch my breath and comprehend what was about to happen.

I walk downstairs, play it cool and meet a few of the musicians. I’m looking around and accidentally stumble into a white-clad shirt David Byrne.  Oh damn.  “Excuse Mr. Byrne….I am a huge fan; your music changed my life, may I have your autograph?” He very sweetly agreed to sign my set list.

“Is it okay if I take a picture with you?” “Sure.” “Can I put my arm around you?” “Yes.”  “Mr. Bryne, I walked down the aisle at my wedding to “Naïve Melody”, this is absolutely amazing to meet you.” He chuckled but was so polite. I stuck around a little because I needed to get him to sign my ankle: this was my manifestation.  I hung back, I didn’t want to be obnoxious and pushy.  He saw me again and asked me to take a picture of him with some other fans.

“Of course! Can I ask you one more favor? Can you please sign my ankle?” I lifted up my leg with my jeans rolled up. “Do you want to sit down?” “Nope, I can balance, go for it!” I put my hand on his shoulder and with my ballpoint pen he signed my ankle. He said, “A ballpoint pen is weird.” “That’s all I have Mr. Byrne. Thank you…” I exited quickly.

Holy fucking shit.
Dreams really do come true.  Tomorrow, I will be getting his signature tattooed to my body. 

UPDATE: Manifested


Atomic Bomb

Wild Belle continue fast-rising ascent at The Indy

Wild-Belle1Photos by Eldon Christenson // Written by Dara Shulman //

Wild Belle //
The Independent – San Francisco
September 26th, 2013 //

Fast-rising sibling duo Natalie and Elliot Bergman of Wild Belle impressed at the group’s sold-out show at The Independent. Lead singer Natalie remarked toward the end of the performance that “this first headlining show [in SF] has been a magical evening.” By the time the show concluded, it was obvious that many in the room were thinking the same thing.

Natalie Bergman’s sexy, raspy voice is a soulful blend of Macy Gray and M.I.A. for comparison sake and is clearly Wild Belle’s not-so-secret weapon. She fronts the four piece band, which features her songwriting partner and kin Elliot on both keys and saxophone. Natalie is an all around package of star power — from her seductive voice to her striking blonde locks, she beams on stage. Every move she makes exudes cool and a smooth style.


The band follows her captive lead with on-point instrumentals. Jazzy, island sounds kept hips moving at a steady pace at this San Francisco show. There’s a worldly element to Wild Belle’s music, and the Chicago-based outfit’s approach to fuzing mildly psychedelic funk & reggae appeals to contemporary indie-rock fans that digest new music with a progressive twinge at a ravenous pace. It’s this amalgamation of genres that is most enticing about Wild Belle’s sound.

The talented Elliot plays a third instrument as well, the electric kalimba, keeping his worldly roots in tact from his former band NOMO. Fellow NOMO band members Erik Hall (guitar), Quinn Kirtcher (drums), and Kellen Harrison (bass) comprise the Wild Belle touring act.


At one point during the set, the sibs traded instruments. Natalie took over on keys while Elliot projected lead vocals — are all siblings this talented? The only slight disappointment, which is typical for an act with one long player under their belt, was that the set was a short one.

Wild Belle played faithful versions of songs from their 2013 release Isles, including favorites such as “Shine,” “Keep You,” and “Backslider.” Those in attendance Thursday were treated to a sneak peak off Wild Belle’s next album, and the unnamed track possesses the same island-jazz roots but included heavy blues vocals.

This may have been the first headlining show in San Francisco for a group that is destined for bigger venues and more fans, and based on the vibes that circled around The Independent last week, things are just starting for Wild Belle.

David Byrne & St. Vincent burn down the house in Oakland


With the house lights still up at the beautiful Fox Theatre in Oakland July 21, a youthful-sounding David Byrne got on the mic backstage to greet the audience. He jovially and politely asked the audience to put their “gadgets” away; “we’ve worked really hard on this show and we’re really proud of it…you don’t need a gadget to enjoy it.” The packed house enthusiastically applauded in agreement.

The audience was regaled with booming sounds from the sousaphone, trumpets, trombones, French horn, and sax. Byrne’s voice, as strong and sharp as it was in his Talking Heads days harmonized handsomely with Annie Clark, the lead creative force behind St. Vincent. The group opened with “Who”, the opening track on David Byrne and St. Vincent’s 2012 album Love This Giant.

The show was so beautifully epic. The eight-piece marching horn section, Annie Clark’s crystal clear voice, and Byrne’s notorious quirkiness were in sync all evening — the show was more of a theatrical production than a concert. The choreography, the musicianship, the talent, the lighting; the entire production was so seamless and so much fun to watch. During the Talking Heads cover “Wild, Wild Life”, the talented horn section marched in a circle while each member gave a quick line into the mic. “I wrestle with your conscious, you wrestle with your partner.”

Byrne, clad in all white, bopped along while the band led many of the numbers. While the upbeat songs were great to dance to, it was the more mellow songs such as “Outside Space and Time” that brought the warmth and power out of the horns. One had to wonder where the sound of strings was coming from? The French horn perhaps? Each song portrayed it’s own story: the tone, choreography, and sound adapted delightfully for each number. It kept you wondering, where are we going next?

The crowd rallied and cheered during the Talking Heads songs of the evening. Byrne projected joy during a lovely rendition of “Naïve Melody (This Must Be the Place)”. The real crowd-pleaser turned out to be during the encore, when Byrne’s “Burning Down the House” literally brought the entire packed Fox to their feet to bust out some moves. They exited the stage after their second encore, a New Orleans second line-style “Road to Nowhere.”

Another striking moment happened when Clark thanked her “bitchin’ crew” for their dedication during their full year tour, as this show marked the conclusion of the US tour. Not only did she thank the road crew and band members, but gave a lovely homage to Byrne himself. She first discovered Byrne’s music after viewing Revenge of the Nerds in her youth (“Burning Down the House” was featured in a scene). She went on to explain the impact of his music and how honored she was to be on stage performing with him. To paraphrase, “Thank you David for bringing your music into the world, you have made it a better place.”

A brief personal anecdote:
I was first introduced to David Byrne and The Talking Heads in high school when I was told to listen to the Stop Making Sense album: that was a life-changer. As an avid Talking Heads fan, this was really a dream come true for me. It only got better when he played “Naïve Melody”, the song I hold so dear to my heart and walked down the aisle to at my wedding. I try to make Byrne’s lyrics my motto, “Feet on the ground, Head in the Sky.”

My husband and I had seats literally in the last row of the balcony, BB. They turned out to be the best seats in the house! Not only are the acoustics amazing from anywhere in the gorgeous Fox Theatre, but some of the numbers are almost meant to be watched as if watching a play; thus seats were nice to have. Being in the back row also allowed us to pop up and dance when the mood struck us, which was often. The show was truly a beautiful work of art — It was an honor to see David Byrne, weird and as awesome as ever.