The allure surrounding filmmaker David Lynch has heightened in recent years; there’s a new generation of fans awing at the Lynchian stamp. It’s safe to say that this resurgence has even led to a reboot of the cult series, “Twin Peaks.”
But just like Lynch’s cinematic work, his own life consists of a profound split: one slice is his creative vortex and the other, a mission to mindfulness. The director has spent more than 40 years dedicated to the ideas of Transcendental Meditation. This includes forming “The David Lynch Foundation,” which aides veterans, children and victims of social injustice.
On April 1, The DLF’s 10-year celebration included a concert at the Ace Hotel Theater in downtown Los Angeles. There was a slew of musical talent, which spanned genres and decades, all of whom were there to both honor the musical craftsmanship of Lynch’s career and to help raise funding for the organization.
Before the concert, there was a brief Q&A between Lynch and DLF Executive Director Bob Roth. They discussed the effects of Transcendental Meditation and turned the floor over to audience members. Someone asked how TM relates to love, and Lynch passionately responded, “Universal love feeds personal love.” Roth directed patrons to sit in silence for ten minutes, either meditating or simply relaxing. Under the violet spotlights and slumped on a director’s chair, Lynch looked like the haunting movie-mogul from Mulholland Drive. There was a startling tension present, being entrenched in Lynch’s private meditation.
Naturally, the show kicked off with Angelo Badalamenti’s “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from “Twin Peaks.” Keyboardist Kinny Landrum set the mood with familiar hums; images of longhaired Bob, waterfalls and frozen-faced Laura seemed to be floating through the antiquated space—smoke clouded the stage.
For the second performance, flower-power veteran Donovan broke hearts with Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” from the “Wild at Heart” soundtrack. In true Americana splendor, Donovan sounded like the soundtrack to a ’50s slow dance; the rendition captured the timeless essence, which hues so much of Lynch’s work.
Chrysta Bell, Lynch’s secret weapon, glided out for the third act, wearing a glittery body-suit that looked like poison ivy painted onto her alabaster skin. Her long burgundy waves blew gently in the wind, while a gold serpent headpiece crowned her head. Bell was described as being “drenched in blues,” and she serenaded the crowd with her song, “Swing With Me,” from the Lynch-produced album This Train. The slow and steady drumbeats on the track insinuated that trouble was brewing. She dropped her cape with a smirk and captured the room with a grand display of the femme fatale.
Husband-and-wife duo Tennis brought an edgy street-style to the classic Roy Orbison hit, “In Dreams,” while Twin Peaks, Chicago’s troupe of young, garage-rock misfits, played along.
The first standing ovation was awarded to Rebekah Del Rio for her gut-wrenching acapella number, “Llorando.” The emotional weight of this piece is the heart of Lynchian tragedy. Her arms out like a crucifix, Del Rio ranged from combative force to soft hushes, while the fringe of her dress scraped the floor.
Although Sky Ferreira may be known for her bad-girl pop-persona, she wowed guests with a cover of Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet.” Her interpretation was full of guts and a Judy Garland kind of urgency.
An astonishing moment during the night was Jim James’ “Sycamore Trees” from the film, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.” The words he sang seemed to physically hurt as they came out, and his hyper-focus was meditative in its own right. His earthy, lumberjack antics and primal gestures seamlessly represented the purest state of an artist that Lynch so often describes.
Karen O popped onto stage and heated up the tempo, showing off leather-slick moves with her song, “Pinky’s Dream,” from Lynch’s album Crazy Clown Time.
Badalamenti, with Cheshire-cat-mischief teased, “That gum you like is gonna come back in style.” He played, “Dance of the Dream Man,” with Landrum and Jim Bruening on saxophone. The surrealism of nostalgic sounds and their associations created “the red room” within The Ace Hotel Theater walls.
Before his next song, “Dark Spanish Symphony,” Badalamenti shared personal stories from his experiences of working with Lynch. “David said, ‘I need something dark, beautiful, and Spanish’. Then, when I played it for him, he said, ‘The music you’re playing for me now is the same music that I heard on the train here.’” That reflection speaks volumes about the extraordinary collaborative bond that the two artists share.
Badalamenti also recalled a time when he went to London to play music with Paul McCartney for The Queen. “She said, ‘You’ll have to excuse me, it’s five of eight. I must watch Twin Peaks.'” The crowd laughed, full-bellied.
Lykke Li and three back-up vocalists performed a cover of Chris Isaak’s, “Wicked Game,” a memorable track from “Wild At Heart.” She swayed in flowing black, a sort of apparition, ranging from falsetto highs to her signature ghostly whispers.
In an effort to cut through the apparent gloom and doom, Moby turned the Ace Theater into “Club Lynch.” He hopped from drum-to-drum with five energetic singers harmonizing behind him. In his erratic stupor, he knocked over his keyboard and equipment; he threw a tantrum of chaos, which is also appropriately Lynchian. “[Lynch’s] work triggers such intense reactions,” he added.
Zola Jesus followed Moby’s second performance, shifting the tone to sinister dreams. In her wrist cuffs and harness, she commanded in all black and sang, “In Heaven,” from “Eraserhead.” Jesus was quite the antithesis to the puffy-cheeked “lady in the radiator” character from the film.
Kings of oddball-discourse, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips contributed “Soundscape from Eraserhead.” Their avant-garde samplings included a noisy deconstruction of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio For Strings” from “The Elephant Man.” Coyne spoke of his failure at communally meditating and said of Lynch, “Maybe next time I see him, I won’t be so fuckin’ excited.”
Legendary British heartthrobs Duran Duran wrapped up the musical segment with a series of songs: “The Chauffer,” “Ordinary World” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Their nu-wave showmanship resonated with Lynch’s theatrics, which was fitting considering they collaborated on a 2011 concert film.
Finally, the man of the hour Lynch appeared for one final hurrah. He offered a piece of writing from unknown origins that read, “May everyone be happy; may everyone be free of disease; may auspiciousness be seen everywhere; peace.”