The stage at St. Viator High School lit up a rainy Arlington Heights Saturday night when local bands performed in a charity concert called Rock for Darfur.
Rock for Darfur is the second annual effort to send money to St. Viator’s sister school in Chad, whose students are refugees. Many of the students were forced to flee from their homes in Darfur after an Arab militia attacked their village. The money goes towards educational materials like books, desks and pencils.
To stop the genocide in Darfur, attendants of the concert were encouraged to sign a petition to be sent to President Barack Obama, asking him to take leadership and form a multi-lateral coalition to band countries together internationally and end the genocide.
The event rose over 3,500 dollars, said chaperone Barbara Durso, and featured student garage bands including All But Normal, Chris and the Beanstalk and Prospect’s very own Jack Avenue.
Senior Sam Kelly, a guitarist in Jack Avenue, said their band was asked to perform by Tim Mack, the drummer in Chris and the Beanstalk.
The band has been practicing together since September, and performed their own original songs at Rock for Darfur instead of covers like many of the other bands (Listen to these songs on their Facebook page).
The students in Jack Avenue perform in various Prospect productions such as the musicals, jazz band and choir so they were not fazed by an audience of peers, unlike Better than Pat’s Quinn Devero and Kyle McDonald.
The sophomores at Palatine were chosen to play three songs between bands, after only practicing together for a month.
“We stopped messing around and made it serious,” Devero said. “We dedicated ourselves [to practicing our songs]” McDonald agreed.
Devero and McDonald covered songs they thought would “fit the mood” of the charity event such as “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, “Wonderwall” by Oasis and “Stare” by Matt Kosta.
“This isn’t supposed to be a ‘jump around and be happy’ event,” McDonald said.
Despite each band’s best efforts to keep the event focused on Darfur, (by introducing one another by saying “Please allow Jack Avenue to Rock Your Conscience!” and “Are you guys ready to save Darfur?”) the high school students in attendance couldn’t help but bring themselves to the stage to dance and cheer on their classmates.
By the end of the concert, when Chris and the Beanstalk performed their set (complete with synchronized hair shaking and coordinating plaid flannel shirts) the group by the stage had grown to over 70 people.
And, like any great concert, there were Jack Avenue “groupies” in attendance at the Rock for Darfur charity concert. A group of junior girls including Haley Smetana, Daniella Bernacchi and Natasha Hansen decorated t-shirts supporting the band and even had their arms autographed by the performers.
“I’m definitely coming back next year,” junior Morgan Reidy said.