Hedge Funders Party With Pearl Jam at Rock & Roll Hall InductionBy
Einhorn, Rosenstein hang in VIP area at Barclays Center
Joan Baez discusses injustice, Vedder talks climate change
The dad-rock bands joining the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year got the VIPs they deserved: hedge-fund managers who’ve aged right along with them.
David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, Curtis Schenker of Scoggin Capital and Barry Rosenstein of Jana Partners were seated at tables right in front of the stage to see Pearl Jam, Journey, Yes and Electric Light Orchestra inducted Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Like so many others in the arena, they sang along to Journey’s most famous refrain, "Don’t Stop Believin’," which could just as easily apply to love or world peace as to investment performance. They were also among the folks who got the ’80s references in the Neil Young song "Rockin’ in the Free World," which Rush, Pearl Jam and Yes jammed on at the end of the night.
One of Rosenstein’s favorite moments was when Yes played "Roundabout."
"That was the song that was played at every junior high school make-out party I went to in my New Jersey hometown in the early ’70s," he said.
The musicians, for their part, performed almost as if no time had passed, although their speeches were a little old man-ish. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman of Yes, still with the long blond hair (and a wizard cape when performing), recounted a memorable prostate exam. Journey’s Aynsley Dunbar thanked his family, friends, managers -- and ex-wives.
To be fair, the ceremony wasn’t just about dad rock. It was also about the father of rock, the recently deceased Chuck Berry, and musicians fighting against injustice.
As inductee Joan Baez put it, "We the people must speak truth to power, and be ready to make sacrifice." Eddie Vedder also took up an issue: "Climate change is real," Pearl Jam’s frontman said. Other highlights included Lenny Kravitz playing Prince, Alicia Keys singing a medley to honor posthumous inductee Tupac Shakur, and Pharrell Williams celebrating Nile Rodgers.
When the musicians weren’t performing, they sat with the VIPs on the floor, enjoying the same decadent cheese plates and trays of cannoli. At one point, Vedder hopped over to Schenker’s table to say hi to Michael J. Fox. (The actor listened to "Given to Fly" the night before surgery related to his Parkinson’s. On stage, Vedder dedicated the song to Fox.)
Peter Shapiro, founder of Brooklyn Bowl, and Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels were spotted at the pre-show buffet at the 40/40 Club at Barclays. For the show, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner sat with Paul Allen. The Seattle billionaire said he was in town for an NBA owners’ meeting and stayed for the induction of Pearl Jam, "a mostly Northwest band."
Rupert Friend, who plays Peter Quinn on Showtime’s "Homeland," looked like he could be a rock idol in jeans and a leather jacket. He praised Dhani Harrison, son of Beatle George, on his Instagram account for inducting ELO "with panache, love and galactical jokes."
As for the hedge funders, Schenker, Rosenstein and Dirk Ziff serve on the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. The New York-based entity runs the induction process and ceremony and supports the bricks-and-mortar site in Cleveland, which it helped establish (that museum has its own board, led by former Sherwin Williams CEO Chris Connor).
The New York board has raised funds for an endowment, exhibitions and capital projects at the museum, where a 12-minute film by Jonathan Demme featuring 32 years of inductees will have its debut in the new Connor Theater in July. It has also helped secure memorabilia for display -- for instance, from hedge-funders who collect guitars instead of art, said Joel Peresman, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Asked why so many hedge funders support the institution, Schenker said, "I’m sure there’s a gang of lawyers who rock. The hedge-fund industry feels a certain alliance with rock and roll. It was started by creative thinkers looking for new ways to invest, trying new things, and that gives us a kinship with the music."
Or maybe they love rock and roll, pure and simple.