University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Rock for Refugees Review: Bands Rock Out for Change

Alice Gledhill

ByAlice Gledhill

Jan 17, 2019

Komedia’s basement was full to the roof with audience’s head-banging to three bands’ alt-rock music. The night was in aid of refugees, with Sussex Student Action for Refugees (STAR) and Sussex Amnesty International joining forces with the ‘Rock for Refugees’ campaign in order to provoke change and raise money for those who need it most. Dece, Catching Mangoes and Opus Kink each gave a stellar performance and urged their fans to contribute to the cause, bringing in over £750 and pages of signed petition papers compelling the government to reunite families.

The event was highly popular with students and, at only £5 a ticket, the night was unsurprisingly sold out. After a slight delay in starting, Dece kicked off the night with their edgy covers of rock classics including ‘Bohemian Like You’ by The Dandy Warhols, ‘Say It’s Over’ by Kaskade and ‘Song 2’ by Blur. The amateur group quickly had the audience energised and singing along to the infamous hits, building hype for supporting refugees. At the end of Dece’s set, a spokesperson for STAR thanked the performers and channelled their energy into the charities’ goals to reunite refugee children with their families. Her drive to fight the government’s nonchalance was as invigorating as the music and inspired everyone to get involved and donate. Passionate supporters crowded around the petition table to sign their names as the second band set up.

Unfortunately, due to illness Nature TV had to pull out, but local band Catching Mangoes made a worthy replacement. Their own songs enlivened the audience even more as they threw their heart and soul into the vocals, drums and electric guitars. The trio performed with a determined spirit which diffused into the audience as they danced and drank and donated. Taking a breath, the lead vocalist reminded the crowd of their purpose, urging everyone to give to the charities and acknowledging the severity of the refugee situation. It was a sobering interlude which definitely translated into more donations.

Unfortunately, Komedia’s drinks were unbelievably expensive – a double vodka and red bull setting me back by £9 – so undoubtedly hindered the donations people gave. But the night’s message still hit home, and everyone left with their ears ringing – a reminder of the tortuous displacement and subjection some refugees currently face.

With the announcement of Opus Kink, a multi-cultural jazz-punk band, the audience’s excitement could hardly be contained in the cramped basement any longer as the cheers themselves were loud enough to reach Number 10 Downing Street! The room’s excitement was effectively focused into the charities’ common cause as they shared the news that some young refugees are being subjected to child trafficking. This induced an even stronger passion to demand the government to take action, and this feverish motivation was empowered through Opus Kink’s electrically charged music. The six musicians and their instruments only just fit on the small stage and took their time in setting up, but the anticipation was worth it. The main vocalist’s ability was immense as he targeted all his anguish into the microphone. His deep voice led the accompaniment of two electric guitars, two trumpets, drums and keyboard in an unruly union of funk-jazz-rock-punk noise. The crowd loved it. Everyone was eager to reach the front to revel in the band’s energy; girls were on their partner’s shoulders in a bid to see the closing performance. The show closed more alive than ever.

While the event was a success, some refugee children are still at risk of horrific abuse and emotional damage while they are kept apart from their families. To play your part in ending the injustice, find Sussex Student Action for Refugees on Facebook here or the Student Union website here

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