Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz, who was born in Ukraine, co-hosted the benefit at NYC’s City Winery, to raise funds for financial and humanitarian relief in the country. In total, $130,000 was raised, with proceeds going to Come Back Alive, a foundation that provides support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and Care.org.
The benefit began with an unplugged set by Gogol Bordello, with Smith joining Hutz on stage to perform Ukraine’s national anthem, alternating verses sung in English (Smith) and Ukrainian (Hutz).
Other musicians that appeared include Jesse Malin, who Hutz joined for a cover of The Pogues’ ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’, Lady Lamb, The Magnetic Fields‘ Stephin Merritt, O.A.R.’s Marc Roberge and Matisyahu. Gogol Bordello closed out the night with a riotous full band set.
Watch some videos from the benefit below.
“Fundraising is crucial,” Hutz told Rolling Stone before the show. “People are being super generous and making astronomical donations. Our task is to keep beating the drum and tell the story authentically. Ukraine is its own independent nation. Everyone who thought Ukraine was a willing part of Russia is basically living in the world of moronic Russian propaganda.”
Hutz continued: “Eight years ago we started to beat this drum and the world seemed to be comfortable thinking it was just some sort of local matter. Guess what — it’s pretty fucking far from being a local matter.
“Now that everyone was shoving it under the carpet for eight years, here is the result. Everyone is going to be affected by it. We are dealing with a monstrous fascist regime.”
Many figures from the worlds of music and entertainment have shared messages of support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine in recent weeks. Elton John told fans he was “heartbroken” over the “nightmare” that civilians are facing, while Miley Cyrus called for “an immediate end to this violence”.
The Canadian band will take to the stage at the city’s Toulouse Theatre venue tonight (March 14), with the poster stating that “all proceeds benefit the Plus 1 Ukraine relief fund”.