Win Passes to Invite-Only Event at the Hard Rock NYC
For Herbert Breslin

Silencio: A Tribute to the Works of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti

by Michael Cirigliano II

Silencio, Feast of Music, Le Poisson Rouge- May 20, 2012
Photo credit: Silencio

Despite his having only released two films in the past 11 years, David Lynch’s cult following seems to be growing exponentially. Such is the fanatical following that there are now tribute bands re-creating the emblematic sounds of his film output. Lynch is a cross-genre maven, not only composing much of the music for his films—along with long-time collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti—but self-releasing an album of electronica earlier this year. The music in Lynch’s films has become as emblematic as his surrealist visuals, and the new band Silencio captured much of the rockabilly-meets-your-worst-nightmare style that drove a sold-out crowd to Le Poisson Rouge Sunday night.

Against a backdrop of red curtains and dim lighting, the five members of Silencio began the evening with the dark chords that begin “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from Twin Peaks. In true Badalamenti style, the minor chords and throbbing pulsations of rhythm elastically morph and rise, flowering into the beautiful major-theme apex of the phrase before gradually descending and ending with the same minor chords—and the process begins once again. From there, a suite of music from the L.A. film noir, Lost Highway, gave the amps a work out: the drums were propulsive, and the guitars crunched against visuals of a high-speed drive along a desolate road.

After a head-bangingly-good performance of “The Pink Room” from Fire Walk With Me, guitarist Kirk Salopek greeted the audience to thank them for coming out, dropping the bomb that Silencio’s performance list only goes back four months; if this is the level of tight ensemble playing these guys can put together in four months, I honestly can’t wait to see what they produce next year.

Adding to the evening’s beauty was vocalist Dessa Poljak, who mixed the look of Dita von Teese with the vocal stylings of Jessica Rabbit. Poljak covered many of the songs that run the gambit of Lynch’s emotional core­—Eraserhead’s “In Heaven,” Lost Highway’s “I Put a Spell on You,” and the title track from Blue Velvet. As elegant as Poljak was in these moments, nothing could prepare the audience for her a capella performance of Mulholland Drive’s “Llorando,” sung at the pivotal point in the film where Betty and Rita open the infamous blue box that changes the course of the entire film. Sung entirely in Spanish, Poljak moved between solemn utterances and guttural sobs that floated the top of her register. Like Betty and Rita, most of the audience was huddled together, daring to even breathe until the final cry of “llorando.”

Overall, the concept of a Lynch/Badalamenti tribute theme works very well for the diehard Lynch fan. Musically, however, one quickly realizes how the tapestry of sound runs similarly from film to film, alternating between nightmarish landscapes and ‘60s-style sock-hop guitars typical of Lynch’s odes to small-town America. Motives are even quoted across films, with Wild at Heart’s “Up in Flames” taking its bass line from Twin Peaks’ “Dance of the Man from Another Place.”

All cross-referencing aside, here’s to hoping Silencio polish off the rest of the Lynch/Badalementi canon soon, as the evening left me craving more—along with a strong, black coffee and a slice of cherry pie.