At the height of political unrest within the United States, the unifying power of music was strong Monday night.
Zedd partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union to throw the “Welcome!” fundraising concert at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The concert featured major artists, including Bebe Rexha, Mija, Daya, Tinashe, Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Machine Gun Kelly with Camila Cabello, Miguel, Skrillex, Incubus and, of course, Zedd himself. All benefits from the show went directly to the ACLU, which works to support equal rights across the country.
The wide variety of genres was exactly what the DJ and music producer was looking for in curating a lineup dedicated to the idea of inclusiveness. “It was a mix of friends and people who have similar beliefs as I do,” Zedd told Billboard on the red carpet before the concert. “I also wanted artists from each genre to represent, because this whole thing is called ‘Welcome.’ We welcome everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re from. Same goes for the music. I didn’t want this to be an EDM concert. I wanted any type of music lover to be welcome,” he said.
Bebe Rexha, who wore a black T-shirt dress with “Immigrant Daughter” written on the front, was thrilled to be included in the set. “My father is from Albania, and when I saw Zedd was having this concert, I thought it was so important,” she told Billboard. “I want to bring awareness to fans who are younger and may not necessarily know what’s going on in the world.”
Zedd, who is a Russian-born, German-raised immigrant, felt particularly close to the cause and resonated with the rising fear associated with the Trump administration’s travel ban. He says the goal is to raise awareness through a platform that engages a wide variety of audiences: “Music is the most universal language there is. I think however you can reach people to open up their mind and start a conversation, you should use that power.”
However, the DJ made it clear that the concert was not an anti-Trump protest. In fact, he told Billboard that divisiveness is the opposite of what he wants. “I’m hoping to see every age, every nationality, every type of person tonight that can talk with each other and find solutions instead of just bashing each other.”
While the show itself was certainly laced with profanities against the current commander in chief, the ACLU executives at the event used the time to highlight their accomplishments since the inauguration. Donations and membership spiked and the organization worked to defeat both attempts at a travel ban. Zedd was even gifted a certificate from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office for his support.
The event continued with the theme of love and good spirits throughout, with notable moments like vocalist Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons tearing up with joy over the recent birth of his twin daughters, an appearance by Jared Leto, and Tinashe performing her new single “Flame” for the first time live.