In its technicolor shades of indigo and fuchsia, the poster for the Village of Love Planned Parenthood online benefit was worthy of celebration. Looking onward to the musical artists for the evening elicited even more excitement, as the range of talent set high expectations for the stream. Artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Brittany Howard and Angel Olsen came together Oct. 25 in the laudable cause of raising money for Planned Parenthood and the sexual and reproductive health care it provides.
The benefit, the love child of Panache Management and other partner companies, lasted for three hours and included a silent auction and a raffle with prizes such as a signed Beastie Boys book and Fender guitars. All the artists, as well as the attendees on the live chat, were showing full support for Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles and New York, making a live community spring forth from the online event.
For the past eight years, Panache has held a live benefit on Valentine’s Day; this past February’s event raised more than $40,000 for Planned Parenthood. Less than a year later, Panache took the opportunity to raise more money for Planned Parenthood and bring together artists regardless of their location. Many artists streamed in live or prerecorded from their respective homes or studios, giving attendees an intimate look into their own lives from home.
Natalie Laura Mering of solo act Weyes Blood stood out with two covers, the first being a haunting rendition of “The Crystal Ship” by The Doors. Playing from a dark purple-lit room, fairy lights danced across Mering’s face as she evoked a soft synth melody from her piano. Her vocals carried the performance and led her to another smashing cover of The Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.” Mering spoke briefly to her own experiences with Planned Parenthood, before stating that “they should be here, they should be there, they should be everywhere.”
In a similar vein, Bridgers stated her thanks for the organization, as she broke up her set to say that she was “grateful for you, grateful for what you do — and I hope that we can keep it accessible for everybody at all times.” Bridgers then proceeded with a half-humored, half-brooding note of “Sweet. Alright, here’s a song about somebody I don’t like,” before beginning her most popular song, “Motion Sickness.”
Bridgers and her band, Harrison Whitford and Marshall Vore, performed in a luxe living room, its maroon walls and gold-accented velvet chairs and mirrors giving an eerie yet grand backdrop for Bridgers’ piercing vocals. The group finished off its set with Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys on Mopeds,” which gave Bridgers a platform to show off her incredible vocal range with covers, not just her own songs.
Another standout performance was Angel Olsen, whose prerecorded video was pieced together from filtered shots of the artist around her home and in her garden. The set started with Olsen bantering with her cameraperson, who instructed her to adjust her ginger wig. Olsen went from chatting one second, to instantly crooning out a guitar-accompanied ballad. Her second song in the set was a cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” which Olsen rearranged and slowed down for a piano-paired rendition of the lately resurged song. Her specific performance of the track, however, came off as playful as Olsen stared directly at the camera during poignant lines, bordering on the intimate and slightly insane. She then read a bedtime story for the audience, as she sat proudly nestled among heaps of houseplants. Zany and talented, Olsen did not disappoint.
Other performances with similar craze included rock duo Tenacious D, composed of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, and eclectic pop punk artist Kathleen Hanna of Le Tigre. Tenacious D brought full-throttle energy to its songs; while separated in different recording booths, the two bandmates still came together harmoniously with punchy tracks. Hanna embraced the internet performance with moving graphics of waterfalls as she sang from a pink-tiled shower, perfectly fitting for the experimental artist.
Village of Love really was that — a community gathering in the name of caring for one another. The artists’ genuine passion for Planned Parenthood, paired with the online support from fans, brought to light the issue of advocacy for Planned Parenthood, its services and mission statements.