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From Haiti to Williamsburg

January 25th, 2010

Haiti Benefit – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 23, 2010

Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis

In the wake of the earthquake that devastated the people and capital city of Haiti, individuals and organizations have responded with an outpouring of humanitarian aid. Telethons, tweets and texts have raised millions of dollars. However, a sustained effort on the part of global citizens is necessary as Haiti continues to recover and rebuild. Toward that end, The Bowery Presents and Brooklyn Vegan teamed up to assemble an incredible group of comedians and musicians for a Haiti benefit on Saturday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The full lineup consisted of Zach Galifianakis, Britt Daniel (of Spoon), Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), St. Vincent, Janeane Garofalo, Wyatt Cenac (of The Daily Show) and the live debut of John Shade. While each performer did an abbreviated set, the night featured some hilarious jokes and breathtaking songs.

Musicians and comedians alternated their sets with Leo Allen and Bobby Tisdale acting as MCs. Jokes ranged from Cenac making fun of PETA to just about every comedian ragging on Williamsburg hipsters. “This used to be a good neighborhood,” yelled Galifianakis during his show-stealing performance. The slovenly and unkempt comic kept the audience off-kilter with a barrage of absurdist one-liners. He even pulled off the difficult task of bringing satire to the night’s cause when he joked, “I was doing Haiti benefits before the earthquake.”

The musicians in attendance provided a bevy of incredibly heartfelt originals and covers. Daniel appeared with White Rabbits drummer Jamie Levinson and opened with a stripped-down, guitar version of John Lennon’s “Isolation.” His distinctive falsetto and off-the-cuff vocals also colored my favorite song on Spoon’s new album, Transference, “Who Makes Your Money.” St. Vincent followed with Jackson Browne’s “These Days” and the National’s “Mistaken for Strangers.” All stood transfixed by St. Vincent’s soft guitar work and lithe vocals. Vernon joined in for her song “The Party,” and the two collaborated on a crowd-pleasing rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” For all in attendance, the event showed an outpouring of support and a gracious display of talent. —Jared Levy

Photos courtesy of Jen Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com