Last night in Los Angeles, I had a chance to go to my first (RED)NIGHTS show at the Wiltern Theatre. This particular date of the new concert series from (RED) featured performances by hasidic hip-hop/reggae star Matisyahu and recent up-and-comer K'naan, who enthralled the audience with plenty of positive and up tempo music, as well as reminding them exactly why they were there in the first place: to save lives.
During a short break halfway through his set, Matisiyahu paused to thank the audience for contributing to (RED) by attending the show, explaining that a portion of each ticket sale helps people suffering from HIV in Africa get the medicine they need to stay alive. This action did not slip under the radar of the concertgoers in the room, as they cheered and applauded loudly the moment (RED) was mentioned.
The (RED)NIGHTS shows are a part of an effort from (RED) to add to the $130 million already donated to The Global Fund, an organization that currently provides a quarter of all international financing for AIDS worldwide. In 2009 they will collaborate with artists such as Fall Out Boy, Katy Perry, The All-American Rejects and many more to turn 26 shows (RED).
To find out where you can attend a (RED)NIGHT close to you, there is a list of upcoming shows here.
Here I am backstage with Matisyahu and K'naan, as well as Spencer Kent who also works at Common Sense NMS.
The show was great, and the atmosphere in the Wiltern was unreal. The crowd was physically responsive to all the performers who took the stage throughout the night, dancing and singing along to almost every song that was played.
As the lights dimmed before each musician came on, the only light still visibly shining was the (RED)NIGHTS logo illuminated on the walls, a symbol that even amongst something as bleak and devastating like AIDS and HIV, there is still hope.