Just over a month before a professional concert series is set to open in Needham’s Powers Hall, six teen bands took the newly renovated stage for a concert of their own.
Live @ Town Hall featured local teens performing for their peers in an event held Friday, Feb. 10 and organized by the Needham High School R.A.D.D. group.
Short for Rockets Against Destructive Decisions, R.A.D.D. strives to organize fun, engaging events for local teens that give them other ways to spend a night out, instead of engaging in unhealthy activities such as drinking and using drugs.
"Our mission is to empower kids to be healthy and substance free to reduce youth substance abuse, so by having these positive social activities that are laidback and fun and appealing, kids feel like they can be together and have fun without the pressure of using,” said Carol Read, who helped start the group and serves as program director for the town's Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention.
These youth events usually don’t include handouts on the perils of drinking or adults talking to kids about making better choices. Instead, they focus on just hanging out and having fun in a safe, welcoming environment. The "don't drink/don't use drugs" messages are implied, but kids don’t leave feeling they’ve been preached to, Read said.
“It’s just a great night, a place to come and be yourself,” she said.
In the past, the R.A.D.D. teens have organized a Friday fiesta, coffeehouse nights with an open mic and a Wii game night, among other activities. The Feb. 10 Live @ Town Hall concert was the first event of its type organized by R.A.D.D.—and the first evening concert held in the newly renovated Powers Hall—and Read felt it was a huge success.
“The place was loud and filled with energy and incredible musicians,” she said. “They rocked the place.”
About 125 teens came to listen or perform. The six bands performing included The Mismatches, Prom For 8, Awesome Express, Spacefist, The Palindromes and Insanity Plague and featured students from Needham and nearby.
In addition, Needham graduate Zoe Gelinas returned with her bandmates from Berklee College of Music to play in her hometown.
“I was so impressed that she wanted to come back and do this concert,” Read said.
Encouraged by their most recent event, R.A.D.D. is looking to do another Live @ Town Hall concert before school lets out this summer and is also working on an Above the Influence campaign, Read said.
R.A.D.D. is open to all Needham students in grades 9-12. They meet twice a month on Tuesdays at 7:15 a.m. at Needham High School.
Learn more about the Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention, its mission and resources, on the Needham Public Health Department page on the town website, needhamma.gov.