The second installment of Carnegie Hall's sprawling cultural festival JapanNYC has been in the works for months, but due to recent tragic events in Japan, it seems fitting and maybe even somehow therapeutic to celebrate all the phenomenal art, music, cinema and performance that the Japanese give to the world. The organizers of the festival, which features a wide variety of events at venues citywide, explain on their website, "While plans for our JapanNYC festival proceed, we offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected. At this incredibly difficult time, we feel it is particularly important to pay tribute to Japan and its people through these festival events."
"If you think of every place where there’s wars going on, where there are terrible times, where people are suffering, they always look to music and culture," Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, told the Times. "These are the things they look to for solace." Last night some solace and a lot of catharsis could be found at Le Poisson Rouge, where the eccentric math rockers Deerhoof kicked off the festival with a little help from friends like David Byrne, who sat in for one song with supporting act If By Yes and even helped sell raffle tickets to raise money for emergency relief efforts in Japan.
After leaving the stage, Byrne grabbed a beer and worked his way to the back of the room, where he nodded his head along to Deerhoof. The frenetic foursome delivered an exhilarating set that got better as it progressed and, as usual, often seemed close to completely unraveling. That impression is a well-crafted illusion, created in no small part by Deerhoof's wicked percussionist Greg Saunier, who keeps the quartet racing along on feral, well, hooves. And no Deerhoof show would be complete without a bizarre Saunier soliloquy—as the skinny drummer rose from his dainty kit to share his offbeat musings on his inability to tie a double knot with his shoelaces, a man in the back named David Byrne wasn't the only one roaring with laughter. But he was perhaps the loudest. (Video)
The JapanNYC festival continues through April 9th; you can peruse the full array of events on the website, which also has information about how to donate money to relief efforts in Japan. Below, Deerhoof's video for The Merry Barracks: