Leukemia awareness concert channels YouTube

Fraternity lends a helping hand to a good cause through a YouTube benefit concert.

By Angela Qian

“My mom better not see this on YouTube,” Michelle Martinez laughed, a joking reference to the fact that all the performers at the Perfect Match concert on April 1st first became popular because of their YouTube video channels. She was referring to the love song she’d sung and the teasing dance she’d performed for an audience member she’d asked to come on stage, just one of the many highlights of the performance at Mandel Hall that night.

This was the second concert hosted by Lambda Phi Epsilon to raise awareness for the lack of minority representation in the national bone marrow registry and to help find a donor for leukemia patient Janet Liang, organized by Lambda members, second year Matthew Lee, Vice President of External Relations; first-year Daryl Xu, the Social Chair; and third-year Paul Park. In comparison to their last concert, Lee said that they were able to get a lot more donors and more talents to perform this time around.

The lineup was impressively long, with ten artists performing a variety of covers and original compositions in the three-hour-long concert. Flying in from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and even Canada, the full list of performers included Veronica Summers, Eppic, Jess Moskaluke, Alex G, J Reyez, JustKidding Films, Tiffany Alvord, Arden Cho, Michelle Martinez, and Lil Crazed.

The first half of the concert was very energetic, with many lively personalities that drew audience approval. Although it was clear that some performers were more experienced than others, each artist was very professional and showcased their singing, dancing, and music gracefully. Eppic was especially engaged with the crowd, receiving loud cheers and applause for his performance. The talented and vocally powerful Jess Moskaluke performed song covers as well as original compositions. Most of the audience was excited to see Arden Cho—an actress, model, and, lately, singer—who was possibly the most well-known of the lineup. After the intermission, J Reyez also drew many audience members to the front, eliciting screams and cheers with their last English-language cover of the famous song “Wedding Dress”, originally by Taeyang.

However, as the length of the performance dragged, the audience grew more tired and the performers found it increasingly difficult to hold its interest. Although the artists that came on for the second half of the concert were still talented, they were less experienced at establishing rapport with the wearying crowd. The concert did not end on an energetic note, since the videos shown by JustKidding Films called for passive viewing rather than audience engagement.

The proceeds from the concert went to the Asian American Donor Program. Lee said from their efforts hosting drives nation-wide to raise awareness for the lack of minority representation in the bone marrow registry, over three hundred people have signed up for the registry. Xu, who planned a similar concert during high school, contacted many artists asking them to support the Janet Liang cause and gained a lot of support. Lee said that many of the artists, made aware of Janet Liang’s sickness by YouTube and other social networking sites, performed for a cheaper price or for free, and that, on a national scale the issue had been getting a lot of attention.

However, Lee admits that the U of C campus population is not as receptive to the YouTube artist community or as well aware of the cause they are trying to further, despite its popularity elsewhere. “We want to make this an annual thing,” Lee said, adding that they would, however, like to only have two or three artists perform at a time instead. “We hope that this concert would start off something, and every year…bring in a new patient to try and save her life.”