Band Aid 2018: Viva Knievel and Friends Put the FUN in Fundraiser at the Varsity


I learned at least three things at Saturday night’s Band Aid 2018 benefit for Ryan Anhorn. 1. Ryan is one heck of a guy, and everyone will tell you that. 2. He has been through a lot already and there is more to come. 3. Ryan has a LOT of great friends. I’ll add 4. They know how to party. All of these were evident at the impressive benefit his friends hosted at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown.

Ryan was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident in July and suffered serious injury requiring a below-the-knee amputation. Ryan is out of the hospital and learning to conquer his new challenges every day. His many friends decided to utilize their talents for a benefit concert to help offset some of his medical costs. Please go to Ryan’s GoFundMe page to learn more about what Ryan has had to deal with so far and the upcoming challenges and costs he will be facing. If you are able, please consider donating towards his medical costs HERE

On to the event, and what an event it was. The evening included a silent auction with items donated by Bauhaus, the Varsity Theater, and many other local businesses . Then there was the music, with 45 minute sets by Al Church, White Light Riot, and the 4onthefloor with DJ’s (Har Mar Superstar, Solid Gold, and DJ Stepmom) keeping it going between sets. The evening was capped with Ryan and his many Viva Knievel bandmates playing until 1:30am.

We only heard the final song by Al Church as we arrived and checked out the silent auction items set-up in the front entry of the beautiful Varsity Theater. If you’ve never been there, you have to check it out. You can see instantly why it is such a favorite place for concerts and private events. Musicians from various local bands were well represented. Ryan didn’t let his injury slow him down from making the rounds and possibly setting a local record for most hugs given in a night. It makes me feel guilty about complaining about minor aches and pains when the guest of honor wore a constant smile despite his loss of limb.

White Light Riot reunited just for the benefit concert and devoted themselves to relearning all of their songs from their album Atomism so they could play it tonight, front-to-back. Who would have known they had such a long hiatus. They were awesome. I hope they continue to at least hold reunion concerts occasionally. Here’s a little background from what I learned from bassist Dan Larsen’s mom and some digging. Brothers Mike (vocals/guitar) and Mark Schwandt (drums) started the band in 2005 while in high school at Robbinsdale Armstrong. Bassist Dan Larsen also is an original member while Zack Caroll replaced original lead guitarist Joe Christenson. After some success and recording three albums they eventually hung it up. Not that they stopped being musicians. They all still play together in their widely popular cover band Viva Knievel. Mark and Mike are owners of Bauhaus Brew Labs with their brother Matt who is also a musician. Ryan Anhorn works with them there and plays guitar in Viva Knievel. Maybe you’ve seen Ryan and some of the other guys in the cool Bauhaus videos they are in. The 4onthefloor drummer Jake Quam also plays in Viva Knievel and is involved at Bauhaus which makes the 4onthefloor friends too. That’s the best I can piece together but I’m sure there are probably plenty of other connections in this small world we live in.

The emcee of the night announced that the silent auction would close when the 4onthefloor concluded their set. More importantly he called Ryan up to the stage to say a few words and thank everyone involved with the benefit and all that attended. He also looked out into the audience for his girlfriend Mariko and had her come forward. Then it was time for the 4onthefloor who took the stage with the entire band wearing Zubaz. Frontman Gabe Douglas explaining that Ryan loves Zubaz so….. Gabe went as far as cutting off his into shorts and cutting the rest into strips that he tossed into the crowd for fans to wear as headbands. If you’re not wearing Zubaz, you’re just wearing pants. I just checked, $17.50 on Amazon. And Gabe sported quite the look with his Zubaz cutoffs, cowboy boots, and black hoody. I have not seen that combination before.

After a few songs, Ryan joined the band for his favorite song “Smokin” and had fun alternating guitar solos with guitarist Nick Costa. Ryan was wore his Zubaz overalls of course. Gabe was really in a festive mood, shaking his tail feathers, and standing out in front of the stage during their cover of AC/DC’s “TNT” which the crowd loved. Being an opening act, they had to cut their set short but made sure to finish with their anthem “All My Friends” which got the joint stomping. You can see plenty more of the 4onthefloor coming up. Friday December 28th they are opening for Soul Asylum at First Avenue. After ringing in the New Year in Rochester, they will be celebrating their 10th anniversary with four shows in four consecutive nights (January 17-20) with three of those at Mortimer’s. Each show will featuring a different album theme and different opening acts, so go all four nights.

The large crowd had moved closer as Viva Knievel took the stage. This is the band the folks were anxious to see tonight with Ryan manning the guitar. They may be a cover band but they are legit and put on an incredible show. It was an all out dance party with various folks joining them on stage along with a full horn section. There must have been at least 15 different folks that were up on stage participating at some point. They played over two hours straight with no break to keep the party going. At one point singer Mike Schwandt jumped down into the festive crowd then did a summersault as he got back on stage. I really liked their version of “Africa” which I thought sounded better than Toto or Weezer. And Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” was my personal favorite. The climax of the night was a stirring version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which included a stage full of folks including an amazing guest singer and a guitar solo by Ryan. After 1am the show marched on with “Under Pressure” and “Uptown Funk” which they said was going to be their last song. But fireball shots did just arrive and Ryan and Jake had tambourines. So they played one more final song with “Let’s Go Crazy” and then one more final, final song with “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” 1:30am. Time to go.

It’s always such a special night when the music community comes together to support one of their own. I feel lucky to have been able to enjoy this fun night with so many others. Thank you from all of us to those that organized and worked at the benefit. And thank you to all of the talented musicians that came together to help their friend and treat us to some great music. Good luck Ryan! I know you will continue to conquer your future challenges with a smile.