Bands benefit LGBT youth at Great American Music Hall

Benjamin Kimo Twichell/Courtesy

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On Saturday night, eccentric and entertaining indie-pop bands Local Hero and Princeton lit up the stage at the world-renowned Great American Music Hall in San Francisco as a part of the official SF Pride event “It Gets Indie.” The show, put on by passionate 14-year-old Noah Hornik, helped raise money and awareness for It Gets Better and The Trevor Project, both of which focus on preventing LGBT youth suicides and bullying. “By combining (his) love of indie music and a cause (he) really cared about,” Hornik created the now annual concert, which last year raised upwards of $20,000. And after the huge turnout produced by Berkeley-based Local Hero and Princeton from Los Angeles, Hornik confirmed that “it’s looking like (they) may have met that mark again.”

After discovering Local Hero on the San Francisco-based music blog Indie Shuffle, Hornik quickly became a huge fan of the band’s indie, beachy tracks and their distinct Californian tone and invited them to play at the benefit. Local Hero jumped at the opportunity to perform at such an important event, and drummer and vocalist Leo Grossman explained that the members were truly “starstruck by the venue.”

But no such nerves were evident once the band took to the stage to open the show. Guitarist and lead vocalist Alex MacKay was quick to urge everyone out of their seats and onto the dance floor, and if the invitation wasn’t enough, the band’s fun and rhythmical music easily drew people to their feet to dance. The band mostly played songs off its recently recorded and currently unnamed and unreleased album, along with a few older songs from their record The Aldgate EP. Pianist and vocalist Maya Laner also showcased her gentle voice with a brief excerpt from her unique cover of “Oblivion” by Grimes. MacKay and Grossman dubbed their band as “a smoothie with fun and tight beats, man,” which they certainly lived up to as each member’s passionate energy was reflected in the excited audience. Had there been more time in the program, the audience’s calls for an encore surely would’ve been recognized, but due to the packed agenda, the band simply left the legendary stage to cheers and robust applause.

In between Local Hero and Princeton’s acts was the event producer’s 17-year-old brother Julian Hornik, whose fun and honest original songs kept the crowd smiling and served as a fluid transition between Local Hero’s upbeat tracks and Princeton’s more laidback style. After playing his cover of MIKA’s “Grace Kelly,” the young talent cleared the stage to decent applause and appreciation.

Next, Princeton was up to close the sensational event. After hearing the popular band on an Urban Outfitters playlist, Hornik jumped at the chance to book Princeton for the event, who have previously opened for indie legends Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot, among others. Matt Kivel, bass and vocalist, explained that the band lives by the idea that “if you don’t have friends in your band and you don’t believe in your band, then you don’t have a band at all.” This powerful motive, coupled with the band’s quirky stage presence produced a highly entertaining performance which included Kivel rolling around on the stage while playing bass and his twin brother, guitarist and vocalist Jesse Kivel inviting audience members onstage to play tambourines while dancing to their final song.

The event was a clear success. The stunning venue was packed. Local Hero, Julian Hornik, and Princeton entertained the crowd for hours with dancy jams and genuine personality, giving a strong performance for a cause of vital importance.