David Byrne and 349 of his closest friends
also changed since the first one in 2013.
“This year we’re at Pecault Square in a spectacular tent — they’re transforming the grounds,” says Collett. “We wanted that outdoor feel. It’ll be interesting for our show to be at ground zero for the festival.”
At the end of each night, a locally sourced house band will turn the tent “into a frivolous dance party. It’s almost like a wedding reception, which is one of the few times as a culture we gather intergenerationally,” muses Collett.
And as with a good wedding, the house band will be exceptional. “We extend the invitation to our guest artists to treat [the house band] like a live karaoke band. They may be here without their regular backing band, so we give them a ready-made one, with a large set list to choose from, so they can jump up onstage and sing.”
As for the artists appearing, when pressed for who might be onstage in the tent, he laughs.
“You have to look at the Luminato brochure and make some educated guesses. That’s part of the fun, the mystery!”
Past performers have included Feist, Daniel Lanois and Rufus Wainwright.
It’s no mystery as to which act at the festival he himself is most looking forward to, though. “There’s a lot of great music this year. But I’m most looking forward to David Byrne’s project. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.” admits that a few cultural institutions did not jump at the opportunity to be involved with the production, but he’s glad it found a home both at Luminato as well as the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn where it will travel after Toronto.
“Why Luminato? Well, they seemed interested, so why not?” says Byrne.
“If you could imagine, there were a few institutions I approached that turned this down, believe it or not. They were kind of like, uh what?”
There were a few musicians, though, who knew of colour guard,such as Annie Clark (St. Vincent) who grew up in Oklahoma and Texas where it’s a big high school activity.
“Not everyone said yes,” says Byrne. “And sometimes for practical reasons: ‘No, I’m on tour,’ or ‘Can’t make the time commitment.’ But we’re really thrilled with these people who are deeply embedded in a world they didn’t know existed.”
Each artist has been paired with a colour team to work on their performance. Nelly Furtado is partnered with a team from Kitchener, which was on hand at the media launch to provide a little demonstration. Byrne is working with a team from Montreal. The details of the production are a bit hushhush, but expectations are high.
“This is a little hard to describe, but maybe people will say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s going to be an amazing visual spectacle,’ ” says Byrne.
Let’s go with that.