People frequently discuss the power of music like it’s an abstract thing. They wax philosophically about it soothing savage beasts and such; but it also is capable of concrete, measurable outcomes. The haziness of music’s true capacities to create change is made clearer by events like tomorrow’s Friends With Benefits: A Benefit for Planned Parenthood.
Dead Dialect Podcast hosts the show at Secret Group. Second Lovers headlines an impressive bill of some of Houston’s busiest, most notable acts. Whit, Handsomebeast, Whale Bones, Mark Drew, Bernie Pink, Sherita Perez and VaudeVillain round out a night of music that has been pulled together with a very specific intent.
“Raising awareness and funds for the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast chapter are definitely major goals that we hope to accomplish for this event, but I feel like the objective is to encourage folks to get active and show support for something they believe in,” said Dead Dialect’s Julian Lara. “That idea was essentially behind why we wanted to get into throwing shows in the first place, even if only to boost and support the scene we believe in. Now we want to expand on that to include what we believe is right during this critical time and share an opportunity to make a difference with everyone in the community.”
Those might sound like lofty goals, but the podcast's co-hosts think Houston will be up to the challenge. They should know; Lara and Brandon Clements (who wrote this lovely Daniel Johnston article for the Houston Press last June) have been talking to and about Houstonians for their show since 2014. They see the event as another step in a direction that allows them to give back to the people of the city they love.
“As a podcast, Julian and I have always tried to dip our toes into event planning," says Clements. "The only difference this time around was to strip ourselves of that post-event pat on the back we usually give ourselves when we see a packed house and happy bands, and to instead put our efforts toward a cause that we are passionate about. Deciding on Planned Parenthood wasn't hard as they as an organization are currently facing an extremely difficult time.”
Since last year’s presidential election, friends of Planned Parenthood have anticipated the new administration's targeting of the organization and have acted swiftly. Planned Parenthood recently told NPR that it has gained 600,000 new donors and more than 36,000 new volunteers since the election. With other federally funded programs under siege that are more closely related to the arts and humanities typically covered by the podcast, we asked why Lara and Clements chose to focus on Planned Parenthood.
“I think the fact that Planned Parenthood directly affects almost every woman out there is why the topic hits closer to home for a wider range of people than many of the other programs the new administration has targeted,” Lara notes. “Given its broad nature, Planned Parenthood has long since represented something of a front line and its progress as a symbol when it comes to the ongoing struggle for a woman's right to choose. I feel like this is what makes it such a visceral hot-button issue and the fact that Planned Parenthood is an entity that could be directly affected by political legislation, those who took the prospect of a Trump presidency seriously knew they had to take action.”
We asked whether the acts selected to perform are currently engaged with Planned Parenthood initiatives in any way. Lara said culling the show’s talent hinged more on creating an audience than on finding musical activists.
“For all intents and purposes, this is another Dead Dialect Presents show, so we wanted to keep the idea of it showcasing some of the best bands and artists Houston has to offer," he says. "In addition, we wanted to make sure women had a strong presence in the lineup, that we put on mostly new bands we hadn't before, and that the lineup was compelling enough to warrant the hype a benefit would need.
"We both came together each with our own suggestions and worked out a short list of acts we wanted on, and Brandon reached out to everyone," Lara adds. "I'm personally proud of what we ended up with, and we're lucky so many talented artists were so down with being on this show because of what it's for.”
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Clements said the event was a topic of conversation on Dead Dialect’s most recent episode, which features comedian, actor and recent Houston Whatever Fest performer T.J. Miller. The pair plan to record an episode of the show with Whit during the benefit, part of their plan to keep working and evolving, he says. The cast's latest turn is moving into video; Clements promises “the same old podcast, but in full HD and on YouTube full-time.” The first foray into vidcasting will feature Free Press Houston’s Omar Afra, he says.
Even if your Saturday plans can’t include Friends With Benefits, Clements said there will be other opportunities to see how music can be an actual catalyst for change in our everyday lives.
“We're 100 percent behind the idea that we'll throw more of these kinds of benefit shows and for different causes, so folks should keep an eye out for that if they miss this one,” he says. “If you can't make it out to the show but are interested in learning more about Planned Parenthood, just check out their website, where they have a ton of info about how to get involved or to donate.”
Dead Dialect Podcast presents Friends With Benefits: A Benefit for Planned Parenthood, Saturday, April 15, at The Secret Group, 2101 Polk. Doors at 7 p.m., $8-$10.