ELMS: The power of music reaches far beyond the show

There is no arguing that music is a powerful thing. It is an avenue for creative expression, it can evoke powerful emotions from both the artist and audience and, most importantly, it brings people together.

That is the mantra behind The Pablove Foundation, an organization dedicated to fundraising for pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment. Each year, the foundation hosts the Pablove Benefit Concert at Turner Hall Ballroom to raise money to improve the lives of children with cancer.

Clear your calendars, folks, because this year’s show is this Saturday.

In 2008, Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz was diagnosed with a bilateral Wilms’ tumor, a rare form of children’s cancer. After a year-long battle, he passed away at just six years old. About one month into his treatment, his father, Jeff Castelaz, a former Marquette student and co-founder of Dangerbird Records in L.A., started The Pablove Foundation in his son’s name.

The goal of the organization is to not only raise money for medical research, but to improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs, and to work to educate and empower families affected by the disease.

Something as routine as a concert has the power to unite individuals all in the name of one very important cause.

This Saturday’s show features 12 different musical acts, the bulk of which hail from Milwaukee. There’s Canopies, Testa Rosa, AUTOMatic, Ragadors, Fatty Acids, El Oso and Herman Astro on tap, with DJ Mad Hatter spinning between each set. The much-anticipated headliner is Butch Walker, an L.A.-based singer-songwriter.

Tickets are $20, which isn’t a bad deal even on a college budget. You get to see 12 fantastic bands, hear some amazing life stories and be a part of something that is making an impact far beyond one night of music. Seriously, when is the last time you could do any of those things for $20, much less all of them at once?

I promise it will be a night to remember. I went to the first Pablove show at Turner Hall back in 2010, excited to see some Milwaukee favorites like Maritime and Fever Marlene. On the surface, it was just like any other Milwaukee concert: people standing in clusters, bobbing their heads and drinking PBR Tall Boys. In reality, it was much more than that.

Everyone had a reason for being there beyond the music, whether it was just to come and support an honest cause or to pay tribute to lost loved ones. The entire night felt like a celebration of life in the name of those who are no longer with us, those still fighting the disease and all the friends and family members coping with its effects.

About halfway through the show, Jeff Castelaz took the stage and said a few words to remind everyone why they were there, and share anecdotes from his personal life. When he shared the story of Pablo, and spoke of other children affected by cancer, I found myself tearing up, empathizing with so many families and individuals I’d never seen before that night.

It’s funny how music can make you feel truly connected like that.