On Friday, March 2nd, Youtube star JR Aquino and an up and coming band, Mitchell Grey, took the stage at International House for the Lambda Phi Epsilon hosted benefit concert "Be the Match", to raise awareness of the need for Asian American bone marrow donors.
The concert had been advertised to have JR Aquino and another Youtube star, Victor Kim, but due to flight delays Victor Kim was unable to make it to the concert.
Before the concert began, the MCs played a video clip compiled from various well-known Asian American Youtube stars talking about the problem posed by the lack of minorities in the National Bone Marrow Registry. Janet Liang, a student at UCLA who cannot find a perfect bone marrow match, started this movement to raise awareness. The MCs also talked about how they would be hosting more events throughout the coming month to raise more awareness and encourage more people to sign up for the registry.
After this presentation, JR Aquino, or J.R.A. as he is also known, came on stage. He had a very simple setup, a single guitar and standing microphone. He established a good rapport with the crowd, talking to them comfortably and jokingly in between songs and responding to the calls from the audience. He joked that he would take us on a roller coaster of highs and lows in his songs, alternating between happy and sad. Before the songs he played, he also gave a brief commentary on what had prompted him to write the song and the emotions that had gone into it.
The songs he played were mostly of his own composition, including "Save This" and "This There That". At one point one of the Lambda MCs even came on stage to play a duet with him, a song by AJ Rafael. J.R.A. closed with a popular song called "By Chance (You & I)", encouraging the audience to jump in and sing at the line "go grab some lunch and eat cucumbers" and join in with the "la la la's". J.R.A. has a great voice, strong and clear, and the mix of songs he played, a melange of sad ballads, lively, happy songs, and slower, sweeter love songs mixed with his honest humor, made for a well-varied concert experience.
After J.R. Aquino left the stage, Mitchell Grey, a band made up of four members consisting of Ryan Bandon, Joseph Diaz, Napon Pintong, and Matt Pana played. They had stopped in Chicago on their way to California to record their debut album. Their performance was less intimate than J.R.A's, and with less commentary, but the energetic presence of the four young men on stage made for a lively show. Frequently the guitarist would face off with the bass player or the main singer to make the performance more exciting. The drummer Matt Pana played an intriguing instrument that was not a traditional drum set, but rather a square box which he sat on and hit with his hands. The songs they played were mostly from their upcoming album, including "Monster", "Hazel", and "Three Seconds".
Although the audience was slightly disappointed that Victor Kim did not show up, overall the concert was a solid showing for a good cause. Performers JR Aquino and Mitchell Grey were both talented and showed good sense in what songs they chose to perform.
In April, Lambda Phi Epsilon will be hosting another concert to again raise awareness for the bone marrow cause.