It was a full house at Brooklyn Bowl last night as members of both the Iranian expatriate community and New York’s young artists gathered in remembrance of Arash and Soroush Farazmand, two brothers and bandmates best known for their work in the Yellow Dogs, and Ali Eskandarian, a fellow musician and friend.
Monday marked the one-week anniversary of their deaths. The three men were shot dead in their Brooklyn apartment by their former associate, Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, who subsequently killed himself.
Tickets for the benefit were on a donation basis, all proceeds of which would go to the families of the deceased, the two surviving members of the Yellow Dogs, and Sasan Sadeqhpourosko, who was also wounded in the shooting.
The event was preceded by a candlelight vigil at Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg. Outside Cameo, a crowd stood in silence before a humble lineup of candles and a bouquet of yellow roses. It was a blustering evening, and the long gusts, which perpetually snuffed the flames and toppled over the long candles, seemed to highlight the tragedy they memorialized: three young men whose lives were extinguished prematurely.
In the crowded candlelit basement of Cameo, dozens of visitors embraced each other and scrawled messages on large poster boards that displayed images of Arash, Soroush, and Ali.
But the atmosphere was livelier at Brooklyn Bowl, as people celebrated the lives of the men through the thing they loved best — music.
The set list included performances by Kyp Malone of TV On the Radio, Nada Surf, Helado Negro, and Dirty Fences, as well as DJ sets by Hypernova, Dinowalrus, and Paul Banks of Interpol, among several other performers.
Toward the end of the night, there was barely enough space to move.
In between performances, Shirin Neshat, a critically acclaimed visual artist who was also born in Iran made a speech during which she delivered a message from her close friend, David Byrne: “I have their song ‘Molly’ on my playlist. I hope it’s about a privileged girl and not drugs but I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s really a good song.”
Before her speech, Neshat spoke with Bedford + Bowery about the generation of Iranian expatriate artists that these men represented.
“There is an innocence in this generation — that pure desire of just wanting to make music and not wanting to have anything to do with cultural, religious, or political issues and not really wanting to talk about politics altogether. That extreme resentment about being pigeonholed as ‘Oh, you’re Iranian so you have to have Iranian instrument or be somewhat political.’ These guys just go for the love of music.”
She added, “They were super young, very experimental, they were really exploring… They were really pioneers, you know.”
Another fellow artist and Iranian in attendance, Yousef Poursohi, had met the Yellow Dogs by way of knowing Hypernova, a band that had also made the journey from Iran to America.
Poursohi said, “They stood for the larger picture — being an artist who goes somewhere else to pursue their dreams. New York City was their refuge.”