Arts & Entertainment, Events, The Muse

A Sunday well spent

Sunday night is usually an optimal time to finish the work that the rest of my weekend didn’t allow time for, and it’s the only time to catch up on rest before another week races away. But this past Sunday night was not a time to be at home, even if it was only 15 degrees outside. Along with about 150 other people in Boston, I spent this past Sunday night at the Middle East in Cambridge &-&- but for once, it wasn’t because we needed to go out to a bar to drown our stress about the schoolwork we weren’t completing.

We attended a benefit concert at the Middle East Downstairs, which included four local bands and two DJs who played impressive sets to raise money for Haiti relief efforts. The money raised will be donated through the non-profit organization Partners in Health, which operates on Boston University’s campus.

The show, hosted by the production group J.M.P. live, was unlike any other benefit concert I’ve seen. It wasn’t just bands playing for a crowd of fans whose tickets happen to say that their money would be donated to a charity. The cause was actually incorporated into the show, and students from several different area colleges came out to contribute their time and talents to perform for it.

First, the Death Star DJs &-&-comprised of two Northeastern students &-&- warmed up the crowd with vibrant, textured audio. Then a new rock band called Barra Kutta, made up of Berklee musicians, took the stage and employed simple but strong and danceable hooks that the audience caught onto quickly.

Next, a speaker from Partners in Health came on stage and explained how his organization, which has been working in Haiti for the past 20 years, will use the money raised from the show to continue to alleviate the suffering and help rebuild Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. A montage of heart-breaking photos in the background brought to life the reality of the catastrophe.

However, the tone became more light-hearted when the Jamaica Plain-based band Turtle Ambulance took the stage. Guests continued to flow in from outside as another Jamaica Plan band, Truman Peyote, played, and pretty soon the Downstairs was pulsing with positive energy.

The art-filled evening peaked when BU’s Speak For Yourself performed. Two BU poets, Kemi Alabi and Jessica Kontchou, spoke powerfully about the situation in Haiti, and their performance helped shape the evening into a memorable and touching event.

Code: Motion, a six-member band including a few BU students, followed, jamming out to homemade tunes filled with funk and reminiscent of Phish.

Throughout all of the sets, two painters stationed onstage covered a canvas with vibrant strokes, and at the end of the show, both of the colorful paintings were auctioned off to raise even more money for the cause.

To top off the already memorable set, two more performers played live programmed Nintendo and Game Boy music, transforming the tone into an electronic and experimental experience, covering yet another part of the musical spectrum while contributing to the diversity of occasion.

Together, the bands and artists, along with everyone who made the effort to attend, helped raise over $1,300.In addition, a private donor has agreed to match all proceeds from BU-related fundraising efforts for Haiti, and since BU students were involved, the event raised $3,000 for Partners in Health. If time is money, then I’d say that was the best Sunday I’ve spent.

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