The Highline Ballroom was the setting for an eclectic triple-header on May 16th featuring the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, followed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, followed by Daniel Johnston. Jon Pareles of the NY Times wrote a good review the complete show.

For the uninitiated, here’s a bit of history on the Legendary Stardust Cowboy/Bowie connection. In 1968, he had a hit with a song called Paralyzed (here’s a clip). It made it a fan out of a 21-year-old David Bowie who paid tribute to the “Ledge” in 1972 with a character on a concept album named Ziggy Stardust. 30 years later, Bowie covered a Ledge song, Gemini Spacecraft, on the album Heathen. The Ledge returned the favor when he recorded his own Space Oddity.

The Ledge put on a fun and carefree show on Wednesday night. He yodeled, tossed out autographed paper plates like frisbees, and belly-crawled around on the stage. His tunes, like the man himself, are a unique brand. Some call the genre “pyschobilly“, a mix of punk and rockabilly. Pareles described his High Line show as sounding “on the verge of free jazz.”

Next was the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a contemporary chamber-music group playing mostly drum-driven songs, closest to rock. The group consists of six on electric guitar, cello, keyboards, bass, clarinet and percussion. By no means primitive like the Ledge and Johnston, they’re still like nothing you’ve ever heard. See what I mean? Some (David Bowie) love listening to them, while others like Leeza would prefer to be brutally murdered by a nearby stranger.

Daniel Johnston was the headliner for the night and another odd breed. As a singer-songwriter suffering from serious mental illness, he’s attracted a noteworthy fan base that includes Bowie, Nirvana, and Sonic Youth. Johnston played two shows in NYC and performed some songs acoustic, others backed by the Joe McGinty Band. BrooklynVegan reported that his performance at the Warsaw was the better of the two, as his Highline Ballroom show was only half as long and rudely interrupted by a flock of busboys noisily gathering bottles and glasses from the stage.

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