INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Blouin Art Info MAY 8, 2013 - by Craig Hubert
PHILIP GLASS, LAURIE ANDERSON, DAVID BYRNE FETE BRIAN ENO AT THE KITCHEN GALA
It was like being sent back in a time machine. Denizens of New York's once-vibrant downtown scene gathered on the Bowery last night to celebrate the life and work of musician/artist Brian Eno, honored by the Kitchen as part of its annual spring gala. At $500 a ticket, the event had its fair share of upper-crust guests, evident by the parade of drivers lined up the block, waiting patiently, smoking cigarettes. As the guest of honor arrived and was quickly ushered into an area for awkward photos, a few attendees chatted about the basketball game happening uptown, while another wondered aloud if Lou Reed was going to show up. Michael Stipe stayed closely huddled with a small group, looking standoffish. The room was too crowded to have anything resembling a normal conversation, but we managed to spot David Byrne's electroshocked white coiffure bouncing up and down as he made his way from one side of the room to the other.
Eno, or his work, is not immediately synonymous with New York in the way that many of the other guests - Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass - are. But few realise that Eno spent a number of years in the late 1970s living and working here, and No New York, the compilation he produced in 1978, is the defining document of the post-punk music scene. He's been all over New York in the past few weeks, giving lectures as part of the Red Bull Music Academy and premiering 77 Million Paintings, a multimedia installation at the former location of Cafe Rouge.
We missed the dinner, but when we arrived to the after party the dance floor was almost completely empty. Many of the guests elected to stay in their seats or head for the exit as soon as the meal was over, ignoring Chances With Wolves, the DJ duo for the evening, entirely, even though they were playing a doo-wop influenced set in a nod to Eno's admitted love of the genre. Speaking of doo-wop, when we ran into filmmaker Sam Green, who recently performed at The Kitchen, he told us The Persuasions, the a cappella group that Eno has cited as a tremendous influence, took the stage during dinner, and even convinced Eno to come up and sing a song with them, just like your uncle does at weddings to embarrass the whole family.
The calm affair didn't so much end as slowly wilt; more people were waiting to get a cup of coffee than a last drink at the bar by the end of the night. We walked out into the neighbourhood where many of the artists present once lived - a formerly-gritty area that some of the people in the room helped popularise - now lit up in the night by the glow of cocktail lounges and luxury apartment complexes.