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Tribute concert to celebrate life of David Bowie

The Pyramid Scheme is hosting the show at 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 5. designed to raise funds for Girls Rock Grand Rapids, a week-long summer camp that empowers girls and women through music.

/Courtesy of Pyramid Scheme

Underwriting support from:

Event Schedule

7:00 Doors open
7:00-8:00 Trivia sign up (at Raffle area)
7:00-10:00 Facepainting (at Raffle area)
7:30-8:00 Ground Control to Major Thomasma
8:00-8:15 Trivia Round 1 (host: Luke Schmidt)
8:15-8:45 Hazy Cosmic Jive
8:45-9:00 Trivia Round 2 (host: Luke Schmidt)
9:00-9:30 The End Times Orchestra
9:30-9:45 Trivia Round 3 (host: Luke Schmidt)
9:45-10:15 Electric Eyed Alligator
10:15-10:30 Trivia Champion Round 4 (host: Luke Schmidt)
10:30-11:00 Brother Wolf and The Wolf Pack from Mars
11:00-11:30 Costume Contest (host: Steff Rosalez of GR!/GR)
11:30-1:30 Bowie Karaoke (host: Kermit Harris)

/Courtesy of Pyramid Scheme

The Pyramid Scheme (68 Commerce Ave SW) is honoring David Bowie with a night of fun featuring five bands playing five Bowie songs each, as well as Bowie trivia, a costume contest, raffle, silent auction, Bowie-inspired face painting and karaoke. The silent auction will feature a limited edition 20-by-30 print of Bowie from his 1983 performance at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena as part of his Serious Moonlight tour. A free hour and a half Bowie-themed photoshoot has also been donated as a prize.   

The $10 door charge, as well as the money from the raffle and silent auction, will all be donated to Girls Rock Grand Rapids.

“I just put the idea out there on a Facebook post,” Nicole LaRae Leach, the Pyramid Scheme's venue manager, says. “The response was just crazy…people were already claiming songs."

The bands scheduled to perform consist mostly of supergroups formed for one night only. They include members of HEAD, the Grand Rapids Symphony, Hazy Past, Nicholas James and the Bandwagon and many more.

When David Bowie died on January 10, his passing sent shockwaves through the hearts and minds of music fans around the world. The man whose music touched so many, who provided validation for countless LGBT people and influenced everyone from Lady Gaga to Nirvana, was gone.

The shock of Bowie’s death inspired Leach to create this night of celebration in honor of his life and music.

“We just sat in my car the whole night and listened to Bowie,” she says. “Everyone is mourning; this is a man who was a hero to so many people, so we should have a night to honor him.”

The idea to make the event a fundraiser did not come until later. Steffanie Rosalez, Girls Rock Grand Rapids’ program director, says she was surprised to learn that the Pyramid Scheme had organized a fundraiser for them. She had been sick and away from her phone and email for several days, learning about the fundraiser when she returned.

“We’ve had a lot of people get interested in our Girls Rock program because they see the need for a change in music culture,” she says. “There’s a lot of things that are problematic, including a lot of things that happened with David Bowie in the ‘70s.”

There is an unfortunate irony to a Bowie-themed fundraiser for young girls, considering that he had sex with an underage girl in the 1970s and faced rape allegations in 1987. A grand jury declined to indict Bowie on rape charges due to a lack of evidence. Lori Mattix, who was 15 years old at the time, said she lost her virginity to the musician in a Thrillist article. While she reflects positively on the experience in the article, the age of consent in California was and still is 18.

“It makes sense that the problems that he was a part of, we’re working specifically to solve,” Rosalez says. “But it wasn’t intentionally set up that way to my knowledge.”

Neither Leach nor Rosalez were aware of that aspect of Bowie’s history when the event was first proposed. After several community members brought it to Rosalez’s attention, Girls Rock Grand Rapids made an official statement on their Facebook page.

“Although it’s hard, we must acknowledge that Bowie’s behavior directly contributed to these problems in music culture,” the statement reads. “While our organization works to eliminate these problems, we strongly believe that it’s important to continue addressing them and keep the conversation open.”

While the event generated some controversy, Leach says everyone involved is still on board and excited.

“He’s such an important figure in music. To me, that’s how I’m going to remember him. That’s what I’m going to think about,” she says.

RSVP and purchase tickets on the event’s Facebook page.

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