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Tibet House Benefit Concert: 5 highlights

Here are the biggest hightlights from the Phillip Glass-curated event at Carnegie Hall

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Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The 26th Annual Tibet House Benefit Concert, organized by seminal composer Phillip Glass, took place Monday night at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall. The lineup for the evening was as eclectic as ever, with sets from Sharon Jones, Iggy Pop, FKA twigs, Basia Bulat, and more. Glass provided support on piano and the highlights of the evening ran deep.

Here are EW’s favorite moments.

5. Basia Bulat offers a lesson on the charango.

The Canadian folk singer did the Carnegie Hall crowd a favor Monday night and (re-)introduced everyone to the charango, as well as her exceptionally nimble plucking, performing “It Can’t Be You” off her 2013 release Tall Tall Shadow. Her strings have a tendency give her songs a willowy quality, but her voice — one part Kate Bush, one part Miley Cyrus — gives them body, and the tension between the two is a pleasure all its own.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

4. Dechen Shak-Dagsay fuses traditional Tibetian music with rock — for an immersive, warm musical experience.

Truly a celebration of world music — where else can you find a roster that includes a Ukraine-based Gypsy punk band, a UK born R&B futurist, and a Gambian griot that kicks off with a traditional chant from a group of Tibetan Monks? — the annual benefit also provides a rare stage for Tibetan music. As Glass noted during his introduction, when this concert started nearly three decades ago these artists had rarely performed outside of their small community. If that’s true of Shak-Dagsay, you’d never know it. Backed by Helge van Dyk’s electric guitars and cello, she elevated traditional Tibetan Buddhist mantras (“Everest,” “Black Tara”) to a moment of modern, big rock catharsis.

3. Gogol Bordello is Gogol Bordello.

Frontman Eugene Hütz and his rabble-rousing crew first performed at this event four years ago and after Glass’ introduction, you’d think the crowd had been waiting all of those 48 months (or 1,460 days) to welcome them back. Dripping with charisma, they stomped, sung, kicked, and danced their way through “My Companjera,” “When the Universes Collide,” and “Pala Tute” — all off their 2010 album Trans-Continental Hustle — to get the crowd on their feet for the first time of the evening.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

2. FKA twigs presents new song, “It’s Good To Love.” 

twigs (born Tahliah Barnett) began her career as a backup dancer and movement has always been enormously important to her material. Monday night was no different, as she brought her brand new song “Good to Love” — which dropped last week — to life for the crowd. On the ballad she wades through rubber band atmospherics, meditating on the frayed tether between her and the one she loves. Cloaked in diamonds and backed by just three band members, she floated through a gorgeous, acrobatic routine.

1. Iggy Pop covers David Bowie’s “Jean Genie.”

The Stooges frontman started his set by performing two original pieces of poetry. One, called “I Talked To A Smart Guy,” reflects on our culture’s need to propagate jealousy and greed; the second, set to one of Glass’ original pieces and called “Mom and Dad Are Gone,” shares snippets of memories of his parents from childhood, achieving fame and success, and the hole they left in his life once gone. The crowd adored each, with shouts of “I f–king love you!” hurling down from the rafters.

After, he launched into Bowie’s 1973 song “Jean Genie” with absolutely no introduction. (Peep that fan-shot video above.) “While it’s true that that was in honor and memory of David Bowie,” he said after, “it’s also just a cool song and you want to do it whenever you can.” You’ll hear no argument here Iggy.