Zedd presents Welcome! benefit concert for the ACLU


When Anton Zaslavski — better known as Zedd — heard about the controversial immigration ban imposed by the Trump administration, he knew he had to take action. Within 72 hours, he assembled a star-studded lineup to perform at Welcome!, a concert to raise funds for the American Civil Liberties Union. That event became a reality on April 3 at the Staples Center.

A Russian-born, German-raised immigrant, Zedd assembled a team of artists and put out a call to action on Twitter regarding the immigration ban.

“As an immigrant myself I feel the need to stand up against the tyranny that threatens our basic human rights,” Zedd said on Twitter. “I’m thrilled to come together with Daya, Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Incubus, Macklemore, Skrillex, Tinashe and many more to help raise money for the ACLU, an organization that works daily to defend and preserve the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution.”

The show opened with performances from DJ Mija, singer-songwriter Tinashe and a collaboration between Mija and singer-songwriter Miguel. Singer-songwriter Daya took the stage next, followed by singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha, who proudly sported a shirt that read “Immigrant Daughter” and invigorated the crowd with a message of inclusivity: “It does not say you need to RSVP on the Statue of Liberty!” Actor Jared Leto and radio personality Ebro Darden both gave impassioned speeches about empowering minority communities who feel threatened by the Trump administration The pair also hosted a YouTube livestream of the entire event, encouraging fans who couldn’t attend in person to donate to the ACLU.

Subsequently, rock band Imagine Dragons and rapper Machine Gun Kelly performed. They invited pop artists Halsey and Camila Cabello to contribute their vocals onstage. Hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis enchanted crowds with a touching performance of “Same Love,” surprising the audience with the accompaniment of singer-songwriter Mary Lambert, and celebrated the vivacity of Los Angeles with “Downtown” in collaboration with singer-songwriter Eric Nally.

“Hatred and fear can never overpower love,” Macklemore said to the cheering crowd at the end of his set. “This is a testament to that this evening.”

Special guests from the ACLU, including Southern California executive director Hector Villagra, attorney Lee Gelernt and national political director Faiz Shakir, also spoke, thanking Zedd for the event and inciting the audience to action against Trump.

“As you know, Donald Trump ran a campaign of fearmongering and scapegoating: Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, women,” Villagra said. “We’re fighting for healthcare for everyone; we’re fighting for a woman’s right to an abortion; and we’re fighting for the right of a transgender student to go to school with full dignity. We’re fighting because the soul of our country is in jeopardy right now.”

Next on stage was electronic dance music producer Skrillex followed by rock band Incubus. After a video message commending efforts by  artists and audience members to enforce civil liberties from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a representative from Garcetti’s office presented Zedd with an award of recognition for organizing the event and supporting the ACLU.

Finally, Zedd himself took the stage and ended the evening alongside Halsey, Cabello and Incubus lead guitarist Mike Einziger.

“My hope is that the actions we take, and the words we say and the messages we spread do eventually get to [Trump], and he realizes there are a lot of people in this world who will take other people’s good over their own,” Zedd said. “You guys are a part of something really big, and I’m hoping to start a movement — if you guys would like to be a part of it, spread the message, have a conversation.”