Red Hot considered closing its doors after Red Hot + Riot. The album was well regarded, and focused on the issue of AIDS in Africa directly for the first time; but selling music to raise money and awareness had diminished radically with the rise of the Internet and file sharing.
But during this time Aaron Dessner (and to a lesser degree his brother Bryce) was working a ‘day job’ at Funny Garbage (a successful pioneer digital design company co-founded and run by Red Hot’s co-founder) while their band The National was incubating. When the band became a worldwide success, Aaron left the company; but wanted to work with Red Hot to do a indie rock compilation album that would be his generation’s No Alternative.
The spectacular result was Dark Was the Night, two hours of the best 21st century rock music including exclusive tracks by Arcade Fire, Beirut, Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Cat Power, The Decemberists, Feist, Ben Gibbard, Grizzly Bear, Spoon, Sufjan Steven and of course The National. The title came from a classic Blind Willie Johnson song covered by The Kronos Quartet.
The album went on to be successful around the world, raising over a million and a half dollars for AIDS relief, including money dedicated to the people of Haiti through Partners in Health immediately after the Earthquake in 2010.