Benefit of the Bands: Rocking Out for Katrina Victims

Natural disasters don’t arrive on time as if they were expected; neither do they choose whose lives to ravage and which families to spare or tear apart.
Lamentably, the Gulf Coast was rocked off its foundations once Hurricane Katrina made her way through. This was a disaster that caught the attention of America, including artists of the underground music scene.
On Oct. 13, the Glasshouse in Pomona played host to a unique proceeding, as the band To Die For Clothing presented a Hurricane Katrina benefit show, with bands Coldwar, Ignite, Eighteen Visions, Poison the Well and Bleeding Through.
All of the proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the victims of the New Orleans tempest, with an undisclosed percentage of the money from merchandise sales also allocated to the afflicted in the area as well.
‘Jason Welsher of To Die For Clothing put the show together,’ said drummer Derek Youngsma of Bleeding Through. ‘We [Bleeding Through] had been meaning to put something together for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and this came up for us. That’s why you saw a lot of bands that normally wouldn’t play together perform tonight.’
The lineup for this benefit concert contained the biggest names of the underground industry. All the bands were busy writing and recording for their new albums. Despite their busy schedules and the steep ticket prices for fans, all of the bands agreed without hesitation to come together to help raise money for the Hurricane Katrina survivors.
‘If people pay 30 bucks for a ticket, they must care a little bit,’ said bassist Mick Morris of Eighteen Visions. ‘I’ve gotten messages from people asking, ‘Why is it $30 to see Eighteen Visions?’ and I’m like, ‘It’s for a good cause.”
Headliner Bleeding Through and the other performers of the night played some old, new and unreleased songs in their sets. The show wasn’t sold out, but was still packed.
United by this worthy cause to aid the needy, the bands strongly communicated their political and personal opinions about Hurricane Katrina between songs and off the stage as well.
‘Well, I think it’s really easy to blame Bush,’ said Coldwar guitarist Geoff Harman. ‘As much as I don’t like the guy, all the blame doesn’t really belong on the administration.’
Instead, Harman believed much of the blame rests on the mayor and the governor of Louisiana.
‘There are certain emergency routines that were supposed to be enacted that the mayor did not follow through with,’ he continued. ‘I think it’s really easy to blame the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well. The whole problem is that you have too many organizations involved that don’t work together.’
Harman explained that FEMA couldn’t be called in until the governor contacts the organization, and that the mayor himself must order the governor to make the call. The Coldwar guitarist went further and pointed to the mayor and President Bush’s ‘continuous cuts’ to the army corps and a neglect of the New Orleans dykes.
‘We could have used a lot more reserve men down there as well as national guards, but nobody was there. We had to ship troops in from other places when they should have been there already.’ Harman said. ‘Truth is, we’ve got too many soldiers in Germany and too many in Iraq and too many in other parts of the world.’
Harman noted that to him, this set of actions shows that America cares more about going ‘to war [to] wipe out an entire country’ than it does about responding to a national disaster like Hurricane Katrina.
Though a bit more sympathetic toward Bush than most of the bands of the Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, Harman was quick to shoot back his thoughts on Bush as a so-called leader.
‘I’m not personally a big fan of Bush at all,’ he said. ‘In my eyes he is not qualified. He is not intelligent enough and not educated enough to be a leader of a country.’
Harman said that it was sad that so many lives had to be lost due to America’s unpreparedness to deal with the disaster.
The ill timing and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina not only left a few band members wondering how their friends and families were coping in the gulf coast, but also opened up some deep emotions.
Ryan Primack, guitarist of Poison the Well spoke about how Hurricane Katrina had affected him personally when he first heard of it on the news.
‘That [Hurricane Katrina] was the first real big hurricane since my dad died earlier this year,’ Primack said. ‘[My dad] worked for the national weather service as communications supervisor at the Emergency Operations Center in Florida, so he would relay information from places [and] inform people what was coming toward them.’
When Primack first heard of the natural disaster’s effect on the Gulf Coast, he ‘was like ‘Wow, I really miss my dad.’ And then it was headed for Florida and I still have a lot of friends and family in Florida, so I was on the phone with them shortly before and shortly after.’
A college graduate with a two-year degree in jazz, Primack also gave his thoughts on the economic reasons as to why our government was being lackadaisical in their efforts to help the Hurricane Katrina victims.
‘I don’t really believe our government is going to really put enough into rebuilding the city. I don’t think they’re going to find it cost effective. So they’re just going to let a piece of U.S. history sink into the ocean,’ Primack stated.
It didn’t matter whether these bands were punk or hardcore. The truth is, these bands came together in order to do their bid in helping those suffering from the hurricane and its aftermath.
They were all approached individually and asked to be a part of To Die For Clothing’s Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert, which they accepted eagerly.
What would they advise fans and UCI kids to do to help out?
‘Send supplies directly there. If you can, volunteer with a group that’s down there or donate money to Red Cross,’ Harman urged. ‘If that’s the most you can do, do it. But if you have the ability to donate to an organization that is directly down there and not to a nationwide organization where it’s going to take two to three weeks for that money to do anything, then donate directly.’
The old adage that wisdom comes with age was conveyed through these veterans’ acts at the Glasshouse on Oct. 13 to spread the message of taking some form of action when our country is in need of it.
‘Be aware. Be proactive. Vote,’ Harman said. ‘Know who you are voting for. Know what you are voting about.’