So last tuesday’s VH1 Save the Music benefit sort of had a Bar Mitzvah vibe. There was one side of the Union Square Ballroom filled with the out of place middle-aged, another with mini-dress clad girls salvaging a good time, and everyone in between was drunk on Hypnotiq.
Mike and I approached the door, sneaking past a standard group of cigarette breakers to get to it, and assessed the situation. The duo of bored twenty-somethings sitting behind a white linen covered folding table forwarded us over to the “press spot” about five feet away where it seemed our “VALUED AT $200!!!?!!” gift bags were nowhere to be found. Who cares really though, we thought, it’s a benefit for god’s sake and there’s bound to be some drinks down there. We both had had a long day, and anything free sounded pretty appealing, especially if was in the name of Saving the Music.
Within the first 30 seconds of arriving, Mike turned to me and said “you know those big parties you see on the internet?” I bent towards him to hear over the deafening dance music, “We’re at one.” 30 seconds later and fifteen feet deeper into the crowd, he quickly retracted his statement. Above us hung wrought iron candle fixtures that seemed identical to ones my aunt uses in her fireplace around Christmastime, where to our right lived the DJ, dropping tracks like it was 2008 on the crowd of poorly lit partygoers. The scene was lively, if a bit awkward, and we hung to the open bar like lions to a watering hole. Everything I drank was blue and came with rock candy.
Twenty minutes later, DIEGO PAULO saved my night. This lively quintet from Delaware, fronted by the enchanting Katie Dill, immediately soaked up any tension in the room, disarming the suits with their crowns of flowers, glitter Bindis, and unassuming vibe. Drummer Tyler Halloway almost made my jaw drop a few times with his intricate rhythms, at once inspired by indie rock and bossa nova, a rare combination to be found flowing out of Delaware of all places.
The band’s fans were easy to spot: any girl in a flower print dress and any guy wearing plaid in the crowd seemed to be bopping and singing along to what I could only imagine was a source of local pride. There was something honest about Diego Paulo’s excitement last week, despite their surroundings. Through their on-stage exuberance and on-point performance, it was easy to see just how glad they were to be there, in New York, playing for a good cause and a fresh crowd.
When I approached Katie Dill, a freckled dark-haired girl with a wide smile and a powerful voice riding the feminine side of Casablancas melodies, she was still floating on the adrenaline of her performance. She told me that the opportunity to play that night came almost by accident - Diego Paulo was the last minute substitute for a band that couldn’t make it. I can’t imagine that whoever missed out on playing that night could possibly have done better.
Mike and I turned our backs against the logo smothered photo backdrop as the band stood chanting together and getting its picture taken. Though I still had a couple more questions to ask, I thought it best to leave them bathing in their glory. Hopefully, it isn’t temporary.
Check out Guest of a Guest’s photos of the event here.