Words by: Martin Halo :: Images by: Rod Snyder

David Byrne Presents:
Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, Cibelle, Vashti Bunyan, CocoRosie and Adem
02.02.07 :: Carnegie Hall :: New York, NY

Cibelle :: 02.02.07 :: Carnegie Hall
This special event was a showcase focusing on a core group of psychedelic folk artists including Vashti Bunyan, Adem, CocoRosie, Cibelle, Vetiver, and Devendra Banhart. Organized by Talking Heads founder David Byrne, the concert was designed to give under-the-radar artists the opportunity to play a legendary stage with proper acoustics as opposed to dingy, loud bars. Byrne brought the founders of the so-called “freak-folk” movement – a new genre comprised of folk, psychedelic, and electronic influences – to Carnegie Hall as part of a three-night series. Byrne has produced genre based projects since the formation of his own record label, Luaka Bop, in 1988. The concert series at Carnegie Hall is just another display of Byrne’s contributions to exposing larger audiences to culturally influential underground scenes.

Devendra Banhart :: 02.02.07 :: Carnegie Hall
Around 8 p.m., the electronically operatic CocoRosie opened the performance with a classical Parisian vibe built on beatboxed bass lines and hypnotically projected visual accompaniment. ’60s British folk songstress Vashti Bunyan – who will be traveling with Vetiver for the entire U.S. tour – then emerged without introduction to mellow the mood with her own material, which Vetiver’s Sanders Trippe offered harmonica phrasing on. Bunyan’s return to the stage comes after a long hiatus with the re-release of her 1969 LP, Just Another Diamond Day, in 2000, and long-awaited sophomore effort, Lookaftering, in 2005.

Vetiver :: 02.02.07 :: Carnegie Hall, New York
After extended applause, Vetiver leader Andy Cabic slowly walked on stage with an acoustic guitar strapped over his shoulder. With his eyes casually looking out over the crowd, he launched into “Maureen,” off Vetiver’s latest, To Find Me Gone, which he introduced as “a song that you would sing to someone when you are away, letting them know that you are not coming home with someone else.” Cabic’s delivery was honest, sincere, humble, and impressively charismatic. His presence predominantly outshined that of his peers with a message and craft that fused American folk with warm melodic West Coast euphoria. The set also included “Angel’s Share” and “Been So Long” before Cabic sat in with Devendra Banhart on his short set, along with Noah Georgeson on electric guitar.

02.02.07 :: Carnegie Hall, New York
With both Brothers Robinson of the Black Crowes quietly seated opposite each other near the back exits and Rick Ocasek of The Cars up front, the bearded Banhart, sporting a purple velour suit, stepped into the spotlight to the most generous applause of the evening. The revolving roster of musicians at times became hard to keep track of but Banhart established his presence quickly with a hospitable greeting and an extended swig from the flask that he pulled from his back pocket. The informal nature of the performance resulted in an atmosphere of living room intimacy rather than ballroom spectacle. Banhart’s set included “Little Animals” and “Long Haired Child” off 2005’s Cripple Crow release. His demeanor was playful as the songsmith made direct eye contact with audience members.

David Byrne’s only guest appearance of the night was on a Moondog cover, where he stood side-by-side with the showcased artists.

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