Angie Swan takes us behind the scenes of David Byrne’s American Utopia and reveals how it changed the way she plays guitar

David Byrne and Angie Swan performing on the American Utopia tour
(Image credit: Dave Simpson / Getty)

David Byrne’s hugely successful, 26-country American Utopia world tour broke a lot of rules on the way to earning a Broadway residency and ultimately a Spike Lee-directed film. For starters, the stage was entirely clean despite being a fully live performance. 

Plus, half of the 12-piece band were drummers playing marching-band style, each covering a different part of the rhythm. But guitarist Angie Swan had her own hurdles to clear during the show’s four-year run, which reached its finale in April. 

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Jim Beaugez

Jim Beaugez has written about music for Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Guitar World, Guitar Player and many other publications. He created My Life in Five Riffs, a multimedia documentary series for Guitar Player that traces contemporary artists back to their sources of inspiration, and previously spent a decade in the musical instruments industry.