Concert aids Yemen famine relief, raises awareness


Courtesy of Josh Richley

“Aid to Yemen” was a benefit concert for the Yemeni famine crisis held on Feb. 24 at the Plymouth House.

On Friday, Feb. 24, five bands got together at the Plymouth House, Cleveland’s West Side DIY central music hub, to “turn their debauchery into something positive.” The House hosted a benefit show to raise money for the Yemen famine crisis, and in doing so, helped bring awareness to the problem.

“I was unaware of the issue before, and this actually brought the issue to my attention,” singer and guitarist for Ghost Slime, Tyler Brown, said about the opportunity to play the show. “It’s terrible, and I’m glad we’re doing something about it.” Ghost Slime hails from Akron, Ohio and you can hear the ghost rock, slime core, emo fuzzy band live on their Midwestern tour in March.

The show was organized by Lake Ridge Academy high school senior, Abby Esch. Her interest in the cause stems from the lack of coverage the U.S. media gives the civil war in Yemen and her background in volunteering for Building Hope in the City. Since the famine is partially caused by U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian blockades, a collective sense of responsibility was omnipresent.

“I’m not against giving money to the crisis,” Semi Haunted Skatepark’s drummer, Jack Omori, said to a round of “duh, true,” as the band’s goal is being as “untrained and as unknowing as possible.” “To be honest, I didn’t know there was a famine crisis in Yemen until this show got announced. I’m going to expose myself as being ignorant right now,” he said.

“Yeah, we’re exposing ourselves as being ignorant, but the point is that nobody knows about this. And that’s f***ed up because apparently 17 million people are affected by this, and a kid dies every 10 minutes,” frontman J.D. Cupple said.

Semi Haunted Skatepark is native to Cleveland, and the “dark shadow to indie rock” band encourages you to listen to some of their “poorly recorded songs on the Internet.”

Plymouth House was chosen for the event because of its steadfast turnouts and reputation as a culture center. Covered in graffiti and a layer of mismatched string lights, in a basement rife with dark corners that hold the secrets of past shows, Semi Haunted Skatepark kicked off the night of energy with “Arcane University.” Each band played a 30 minute set, and the bands performing included Fresh Bucket, King Buu and Valley Girls.

The Willoughby, Ohio-based Fresh Bucket brought a fresh take to the concert with their mix of “psychedelic, industrial and surf rock,” and they’ll be bringing it again over to Mahall’s  on March 21.

A cross between polka and reggae, Cleveland brings forth the ‘bluesy, garage rock’ band King Buu. They make “children’s music for adults” and find inspiration in bad television, road rage and Cher.

“Our first year, we played shows to 10-15 people. We’re hoping this year we can play to 15-20 people. Maybe three years from now, we can work our way up to 25-30 people per show,” said drummer Wesley Who on the bands aspirations–aside from creating chaos and global domination.

After King Buu came Valley Girls, a duo from Akron that combines “maximalist emotion with minimalist execution” to create outsized rock ‘n’ roll that incorporates noise and synthesizers into their sound.

“It’s definitely a project that’s us-centric,” said guitarist Seth Troyer. “We’re very much at the center of it, and it’s always been about minimalism in the musical sense and minimalism in what we use.”

As a minimalist experimental band, they’re looking to spice up the local music scene while continuing to live their lives as ‘artist’ while they work on a new album.

The Plymouth House was co-founded by drummer Jacob Wulf and guitarist Josh Richey, who both frequent the music scene with their own bands, An American Astronaut and Iron Bison, respectively. Since they have the capacity and they’re doing shows anyway, it followed that they dedicate it to a cause.

“This is just like a hobby. It’s kind of weird to say that, but it’s fun as f***, and we’re able to enhance the music community in Cleveland. We are also, as far as I know, the most active DIY house show space in Cleveland,” venue co-owner Jacob Wulf said. Having helped launch the careers of a few local bands through The House already, they look forward to starting an actual booking company in the future.

Most of the bands were personally recruited by Abby Esch for their first experience playing at the House. Drawing a crowd of 100-some people, the benefit concert raised a grand total of $456, and all of the proceeds will be donated to the Yemen branch of Save the Children, an international organization that supports children in developing countries.