Karen O, Sky Ferreira, Duran Duran, And A Dozen More Artists Paid Tribute To David Lynch (And Die Antwoord Heckled The Whole Time)

Amongst the shabby, shuttered vaudeville theaters that line Broadway in Los Angeles, the Theatre at Ace Hotel burns bright. A line stretched from the theater doors all the way down the street, with fans dressed to the nines waiting to get in. The event? The Music Of David Lynch, a concert at which a galaxy of stars would take the stage to perform music from Lynch’s films; the proceeds would go to the David Lynch Foundation. One young man in a gray suit had flown all the way from Chicago just to meditate with Lynch, but couldn’t afford a ticket to the show itself. He just hovered in the lobby hoping no one would notice he hadn’t left the building since 3 p.m. that afternoon, which is just the kind of thing a young protagonist in a David Lynch film might do. It turns out that when you have a David Lynch event, most bizarre actions seem perfectly plausible. For example, being seated in front of Die Antwoord for the whole entire show and overhearing them rudely heckle every single performer until they get bored and leave goes from being a surreal event to perfectly plausible. (I have taken the liberty of adding their heckles as footnotes. Read with caution.) This is David Lynch’s world. Anything is plausible.

The evening kicked off as most fundraisers do, with a few kind words from the head of the organization describing the good work that the David Lynch Foundation has done in their 10 years, bringing transcendental meditation to hundreds of thousands of at-risk youth, veterans, homeless, and countless others who have suffered trauma in their lives. Then Angelo Badalamenti, the composer of so many of David Lynch’s iconic scores, came out and launched into the eerie “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from Twin Peaks. The walls of the theater seemed to pulse like an organ under the green and purple lights, and suddenly it felt very much like we were slipping into one of Lynch’s yet-unwritten films.

Star after star appeared on stage to pledge their devotion to the director, each with their own take on his work. Clad in olive green, Donovan went up first with his shaky rendition of Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” from Wild At Heart.[1] He was followed by Chrysta Bell, who was covered in a green sparkly jumpsuit and looked very much like a modern version of an absinthe fairy; she knocked “Swing With Me” (from her solo album that was co-written and produced by Lynch) right out of the park.[2] The program became almost like a competition of who could outdo whom sprinkled with a few short videos, because you know, what David Lynch festival would be complete without a video of a young couple watching a human-sized chrysalis wrapped in yarn give birth to a grotesque butterfly monster and then make out with each other wrapped in the yarn?[3]

The unlikely combination of Tennis and Twin Peaks were up next. The young kids from Chicago looked nervous as the backup band, but Tennis lead singer Alaina Moore set her jaw with the grim determination of an Olympic diver about to pull something really complicated and dangerous off the high dive and crushed Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” from Blue Velvet. Their victory, however, was short lived, because immediately afterward, the magnificent Rebekah Del Rio walked on stage in an evening gown to thunderous applause and demanded, “Silencio.” The audience waited with bated breath to see if she could recreate her famous scene in Mullholland Drive. Within the first few bars of “Llorando” there was no doubt. With no accompaniment, Del Rio sang her famous tune flawlessly.[4] There were a couple minutes of silence and then the place erupted.

Why on earth Del Rio was put in the middle of the program is baffling. It was deeply unfair to all of the performers who followed. Sky Ferreira came out immediately after that looking terrified in a leather jacket. Her rendition of Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” was good, but after watching Del Rio, everything seemed flatter by comparison. Jim James of My Morning Jacket came out, looking confident[5] in a suit and sang “Sycamore Trees” from Twin Peaks. Karen O did a wonderful rocker version of “Pinky’s Dream”[6] from Crazy Clown Time. And Lykke Li came out and sang a very lovely and delicate cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” from Wild At Heart, but the damage had been done. No one could recreate the magnetic thrall of Del Rio, which was hardly fair. No one else had an iconic scene in a David Lynch movie.

It was better when the performers didn’t even try for gravitas. Moby came out and launched into “Go,” his song that he freely admitted was stolen from the Twin Peaks theme. By the end of the song, he had a dance party going in the aisles. He then had everyone sing along to “The Perfect Life,” which he admitted was not related to Lynch at all. Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips mashed up construction sounds that they had recorded at 4 a.m. that morning from their hotel window on their iPhones to create a soundscape from Eraserhead and layered some poetry from The Elephant Man on top of it. It was really touching to see how much David Lynch meant to Wayne Coyne. “Maybe next time I won’t be so fucking excited to meet him and I’ll mediate better,” he ruminated.

Flaming Lips. #DavidLynch #eraserhead #elephantman

A video posted by @cmcgaw on

The evening closed with a three-song set from Duran Duran. Lynch had directed their latest tour DVD, Duran Duran Unstaged, and the crowd was delighted when they took the stage. They performed “The Chauffeur,” “Ordinary World,” and “Hungry Like The Wolf.” A man dressed in a pineapple tunic and foam wolf visor ran up and down the aisles of the theater making sure everyone was dancing. He didn’t really need to. It turns out that everyone knows the words to “Hungry Like The Wolf.” Everyone: kids, grandmothers, starlets … everyone. It’s really time for the 2015 resurgence of that tune.

#DuranDuran for the Music of #DavidLynch

A video posted by Bobby Shih (@bobbyshih) on

Lynch got on stage to close the evening and thank everyone for coming. He seemed truly touched by the amount of people who showed up. The only one who wasn’t there was Julee Cruise, who was slated in the program to perform her famous song from Twin Peaks, “Falling.” I suppose you can’t have everything. Although it did seem fitting to have the lady from the closing act mysteriously disappear from a David Lynch show. (I’m sure she’s fine. I hope she’s fine.)

[Photos by Paul Carter]


[1] “Ha! He fucked it up already! This is fucking horrible. Why do we allow this?”

[2] “Shit. Fuck.” [said with admiration]

[3] “This is fucked up.”

[4] “She sings exactly like the film! So good!”

[5] “He looks like Michael Bolton with a goatee!”

[6] “Please Pinky, fuck off.”