Earlier this month, CALM Ambassadors OFFICERS along with alt rock legends, Placebo, hosted an afterparty fundraiser for CALM after their gig at O2 Academy Leeds. Event organiser Joe Kenway, gives us the skinny on how it came about:
“Back in October I met Tony Ereira, a trustee for the Charity CALM and one of the founding member of Leeds Record Label Hatch Records. The conversation remained largely on the subject of music and after a while talk moved towards Tony’s idea of combining his musical interests with his work with CALM.
He explained that the charity was all about reaching out to men who might be going through a tough time, with a particular focus on combating the causes and consequences of mental illness in men, where suicide rates are disproportionately high. He saw real potential in utilising the openness that people find in music as a form of expression as a way of getting across the ethos of the charity.
To me, this came across as a real worthwhile cause and a really exciting project to get involved with. On this basis I met Tony again, along with Jamie and Matt, CALM Ambassadors and members of local Yorkshire band OFFICERS.
We spent some time discussing what kind of events could work and who we could approach to get involved. It was Jamie and Matt who proposed Placebo as a potential collaborator, seeing as they knew the band (just a casual friendship, of course) and thought it would be the kind of charity which they would definitely be keen to represent.
We seized the opportunity to use this as a real high-profile first event to launch Tony’s idea. Jamie mentioned that they were conveniently playing the O2 Academy on the 9th of March and we all agreed that an afterparty for the show would be ideal.
We spoke to a few venues about the possibility of holding the event and Leeds University Union jumped straight on board. They really appreciated the charity focused motive at the forefront of the event and we were very glad to have them on board.
Once the venue was lined up, we looked for another act or two for the night. Tony spoke to Leeds locals Hookworms (another casual acquaintance). The band have been a local favourite for some time in the city and their ability to blend a backdrop of fuzz driven psych-punk with more anthemic indie influenced elements to the melodies, guitar and synth parts has earned them a lot of loyal followers in these parts.
They are now receiving much deserved recognition further afield on the back of their excellent recent album “The Hum”, and are playing the likes of Field Day, Primavera, and our very own Live At Leeds this year along with a string of UK dates and a US tour. We were thrilled when they agreed to do a set as it meant us having a representative from the city itself; it felt like the perfect match. Before we knew it, the night was upon us.
The crowd was beginning to flood in from the O2 gig when Hookworms frontman MJ took to the stage. He traversed us through the influences behind the record during his hour long set. With elements of post-punk synth oriented tunes, through the catchy but delicately nuanced indie from the likes of Los Campesinos, to distorted grunge and shoegaze that built the tension in the crowd perfectly for the night ahead.
Following MJ was an appearance from Brian Molko himself. For the crowd this was a rare chance for a second glimpse of the Placebo frontman, all in one night. Their excitement at being able to do so in such a personal and intimate setting was palpable as he walked on stage.
Brian kept the crowd mesmerized with a set of electronica that traversed the light and ethereal as well as the darker heavier tones. There was an orchestrated restraint to the set that kept the tension high whilst never letting the build-up fully spill over, inducing a state of transfixion on the audience. It was a joy to hear the multitude of the singer’s influences and how this had impacted the sound of Placebo over the last 20 years, an anniversary being marked by their current worldwide tour, and a historical look back over all their material having recently made their entire back catalogue available to stream online.
Stefan Olsdal, second Placebo member of the night, gave us another insight here. His electronica took on a much more beat focused sound. There was still the swatches of sharp harmonic movement that we heard from Brian, but this time with the kind of rhythmic background that you might well expect from one half of the band’s rhythm section.
It almost felt as though this was the release to which Brian Molko’s set had been building up to. Showing that the pair were still very much working in tandem and that in 20 years their musical output had only grown more synchronised (rather than drifting apart as so many musical contingents find). It rounded off the night in classic fashion with a large portion of the crowd baying for more even at the end of Stefan’s set.
The night was a real success. The ethos of the charity matched with the approach the musicians take and had the profound effect we had hoped for. I’ll be meeting up with Tony and the OFFICERS guys soon to plan the next one, so watch this space…”
Artist and OFFICERS collaborator, Stuart Semple, designed the brilliant artwork for the event. The original piece (above) is being auctioned in aid of CALM, so if you want to get your hands on this unique piece of art, get bidding on eBay HERE! Auction ends April 4th, so get your bids in asap!
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