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Published: 2009/05/05

Collaborations Highlight Dark Was the Night Concert

This past Sunday, New Yorks Radio City Music Hall played host to a live event based around the Dark Was The Night charity compilation. Like its album counterpart, the benefit concert was organized by The Nationals Aaron and Bryce Dessner and supported Red Hots battle against AIDS. Throughout the night, video screens showed vintage clips from Red Hots past projects, while audio selections from Red Hots twenty benefit albums helped the evening flow seamlessly.
Brooklyn-based indie rockers Dirty Projectors opened the night with a four-song set that featured David Byrne on the two tunes he record with the band for Dark Was the Night : Ambulance Man’ and ‘Knotty Pine’ (only the latter song made it onto the CD). Next up, singer My Brightest Diamond took the stage with the members of The National for her contribution to the project, Feeling Good. The National anchored the first sets longest segment, running through the Boxer highlight Slow Show, the new song England, the Dark Was the Night exclusive So Far Around The Bend and the new, jammy Vanderlyle Crybaby (the bands forthcoming album is said to contain a few Grateful Dead moments). The members of Bon Iver supported the group throughout their mini-set, singing backup and fleshing out The Nationals sound with auxiliary instruments. TV on the Radios Dave Sitek appeared next, offering the short, spunky With A Girl Like You.
The events first set closed with a three song set from David Byrneone of the artists who has been with Red Hot since its inception. Beginning with a cover of Cole Porters Don’t Fence Me In’ from the first Red Hot CD, Byrne performed with an expanded ensemble that included a five-piece band drum troupe and members of The National and a parade of guest vocalists like Bon Iver (Dreamworld: Marco de Canavezes) and (‘Waters Of March’). All three of Byrnes songs appear on previous Red Hot compilations.
The second half of the evening featured longer performances by fewer artists. Bon Iver opened the set with a four-song set that featured The Nationals Matt Berninger on Big Red Machine’ and My Brightest Diamond on ‘Flume.’ After a few archival Red Hot videos that discussed women in the music industry, Feist took the stage armed only with an acoustic guitar for a few songs and brought out Bon Iver for her cut from the charity album, Train Song. The evenings mood quickly charged as Feist left the stage and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings emerged for the evenings finale. While most of the evening featured sober, reflective indie acts, The Dap-Kings offered their brand of retro-soul, complete with Antibalas Victor Axelrod on keyboards.
The benefits encore was a surprisingly nod to another charity event taking place simultaneously across town at Madison Square Garden in honor of Pete Seeger. Most of the evenings cast took the stage for an acoustic sing-a-long based around Woody Guthries This Land Is Our Land, before Sharon Jones interrupted the ensemble.
I dont want to bust your balls, Jones joked. I love that versionDap-Kings lets show them our version. The Dap-Kings then brought the night to a close with the funky version of the song featured on their 2005 album Naturally with extra backing vocals provided by Feist, My Brightest Diamond and the members of The National, Bon Iver and the Dirty Projectors.
Please click here for a recent aute interview with Aaron Dessner. The National will also be profiled in the July issue of Relix.

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