(Photo Credit: B51 Photography
I'm going to be honest about something. When I was invited to the David Lynch Foundation benfit concert to promote David Lynch's work to bring transcendental meditation to school children, victims of domestic violence, and veterans with PTSD, I was...skeptical. Not of David Lynch. He's one of the most important filmmakers of the last 30 years or of the health value of meditation. It's a scientifically proven way to regulate your body cycles and increase both mental and physical health. But everything about the TM movement has always reeked of, for lack of a better word, "cult" to me. But after the testimonies of Katy Perry, Sting, Jim James, Jerry Seinfeld, George Stephanopoulos and more on Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, my skepticism has been assauged.
It's difficult to approach the evening as a typical concert review. With the exception of Sting and Katy Perry, none of the acts were able to play more than a single song, and even Sting and Katy Perry played highly truncated sets for what was ultimately a short, two-hour performance all told, but here's what I can say: if all of the host of talent in that room speak to the way that transcendental meditation has helped them as performers and creators, well, clearly, they're on to something.
I'm probably the least "zen" person I've ever met. Neurotic/anxious/stressed are more accurate adjectives to describe me than "mentally peaceful," but Carnegie Hall was the perfect venue for the David Lynch Foundation to make an argument for the power of the methods of transcendental meditation. At one point, transcendental meditation spokesperson Bob Roth managed to get the entire concert hall to be deathly quiet and in a room with acoustics as sharp as Carnegie Hall's, you could hear the slightest squirming in the seat. And he kept this up for nearly five minutes. It was an intense and comforting experience in a world where it's rare to go five seconds without having to talk and think and hear a lot of jarring sound.
The performances from the evening were routinely excellent to the point that their brevity became especially disappointing. The most transcendental moment of the whole evening was when Jim James (indie rock god of band My Morning Jacket) played his solo number, "State of the Art," with an entire string section. And that fusion of high art (classical strings) with "low" art (head-banging, guitar driven rock & roll) was the best of what can be done in 2015 in that space. I would pay good money for a full orchestra to play with Jim James (and My Morning Jacket) in a heartbeat. You can take that to the bank, Carnegie Hall.
Sting and Katy Perry also impressed. Sting has been rocking a Grizzly Adams look of late, and while we're not sure if it suits him, there's no doubt that the former Police frontman can still sing. He played a brief selection of his solo material, and it will never get old hearing Sting croon "Englishman in New York" in person. Katy Perry looked like what if a Disney princess were also moonlighting as an Oscar presenter, and although hearing her songs in Carnegie Hall was one of the most strangely postmodern experiences of my entire life, she also, without a doubt, brought it. She uses so many production tricks on her albums that it's easy to forget that she has a hellacious voice which she brought fully to bear at Carnegie Hall. When she brought out ballerinas for a neo-classical spin of "Fireworks," I couldn't stop grinning in glee.
Now for the photos courtesy of our fantastic photographer, Mark Brown.