The idea that led to the star-studded concert taking place at 8 pm on Friday, May 11 in Cleveland High School's auditorium, a benefit for Portland Public Schools' under-funded-unto-death music programs, first came to Dash Robb when he had to plan an assembly as part of a class project. Robb, a senior at Lincoln High School in SW Portland who has been the driving force behind the event explains, "I wanted to have a band play (because how cool would that be?), but how can you justify to a band a 20-minute set, unless you have a worthy cause or a real concert, and thus the charity concert was born." That was in March. Two months later, having overcome the temptations of senioritis and his inexperience in event production, Robb has turned his fantasy into Friday's show. This powerhouse fundraiser features indierock toasts-of-the-town Menomena and the Thermals, as well as student band the Bustling Townships, and the evening could generate more than $10,000 for in-school music education.Robb, a representative in Lincoln High's community planning organization, worked tirelessly with the rest of the student government to wage a bold campaign of guerilla booking to realize their vision. With no budget to speak of, the students cut out the middlemen, bypassing professional promoters, and instead appealed directly to the bands on their wish list by any means possible. For instance, they obtained Thermals bassist Kathy Foster's home address via a family friend of Robb's and personally entreated the band to donate their services to the cause. Other contacts were provided, which led to Menomena rounding out the bill pro bono, and a surge of press coverage, including a story in Pitchfork. Portland's music education nonprofits have also gotten behind the event, helping to promote and, in the instance of Spun DJ Academy, donating a PA.
Danny Seim, of Menomena, was attracted to the project precisely because of its DIY ethos: "The organizers mentioned the event to us on the day we got back from our last tour, and it seemed like a perfect scenario for us in a lot of ways. For starters, the cause is extremely unique: high school students taking the initiative to support their own school's lagging music programs, instead of waiting for funding from the powers that be. I've never heard of anything quite like it around here, and we're very proud to be part of such a revolution."