DJ Ginseng, we presume? One would probably never presume that, but there he is, alternating between trying to look nonchalant and concentrating so hard that his brow furrows. He wiggles the fader bar back and forth with somewhat alarming ferocity. And then he licks the tips of his fingers. “There! He did it again,” says my companion, kind of awed and kind of bemused. “Err, why?”
This is the ridiculousness/sweet bafflingness of the 30th anniversary of Tom Tom Club’s existence—a band spawned from New York’s downtown scene in the ’80s, and immortalized for those post-‘80s babies via Mariah Carey (“Fantasy”) and Mark Morrison (everyone’s ‘ironic’ R&B favorite, “Return Of The Mack”). Husband and wife duo Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz convey a ‘it’s great to be back’ vibe, their faces frozen in constant beaming smiles, which are similarly echoed by the rest of the band (bar DJ Ginseng). In a sparkly dress (let’s say it’s about mid-thigh—you go, girl…?) Weymouth’s matchy-matchy outfitted back up vocalist bounces around with a limp tambourine technique, while a Bob Marley t-shirt-wearing and Rastafari-beaded chap who we learn later is simply known as “Mystic Bowie” does his groove thang next to the guitarist. “This one goes out to the ladies onstage!” exclaims Mr. Bowie. “She’s Dangerous” is next, obvz.
Earlier in the evening, Matthew Dear had regaled us with the darkness of his Black City. Dressed appropriately in a dark smoking jacket, he demurely sang into a mic that sprang his voice outwards cloaked in effects. It was the new guard opening for the old guard, with his dark lighting indicative of the actual goings on onstage and playing out an interesting contrast to the stark bright light of Tom Tom Club, which perhaps was not the best idea.
But back to the set at hand. Tufts of (weed) smoke began curling down in front, which seemed slightly hilarious as Tom Tom Club unrolled their cover of “Under The Boardwalk” (personally, Bette Midler did it best). Two words scarily spring to mind via free association: country reggae.
After 30 years, perhaps this is what we should expect. In a conversation about Tom Tom Club, of course Talking Heads is inevitably going to be brought up (something that the band would obviously want to capitalize on, choosing to end of “Psycho Killer”), as is David Byrne. While Byrne seems to have evolved with the times, tonight demonstrated less of that and more a celebration of times past. “A lot of you are too young to know this show, but it feels like Romper Room,” Weymouth had said earlier in the night. Guess that’s what they had in mind.