By April Cisneros & Linita Masters
The sweet sound of Papa Roach’s sound check filled our ears as my colleagues and I from The Hollywood 360 arrived at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, around 5pm on Thursday, July 28.
Between the leather couches, felt walls, bookshelves, oversized light bulbs, “dictionary of slang” plastered onto the wall, celebrity bowling scores (revealing LeBron James’ surprisingly low score, by the way—guess you can’t have it all) and art on the ceilings, the Lucky Strike was the perfect combination of both homey and swag. (Some might call painted industrial gears and woodsy taxidermies on the same wall conflicting; we like to call it hipster A.F.)
Even if the venue hadn’t been swarming with celebrities that night, we would have had plenty to keep us busy between the multiple bars, bowling lanes and stage space. But hey, the celebrities were a pretty cool plus.
So why was the bowling lounge and bar at Hollywood & Highland popping on a Thursday night with musicians from bands like Papa Roach, The Backstreet Boys, Hoobastank, London, Edge of Paradise, The Mendenhall Experiment and more? Turns out it was for more than just a good time at a sick joint—although a good time was certainly had.
The night wasn’t simply about bowling with rock stars or listening to some amazing music…it was about raising awareness and fighting against the tragic practice of human trafficking.
“It’s a dark world out there,” said, Jacoby Shaddix, lead singer from Papa Roach. “We’re here to bring some light.”
Jacoby explained that famed rock photographer, Kevin Estrada, used to photograph Papa Roach and contacted them a while back asking them to play this show to help raise money for his foundation “Rockers United.”
Estrada founded the “Rockers United Foundation,” with its mission being a vocal advocacy for the education, prevention and abolition of human trafficking. He accomplishes his mission through benefit fundraisers with rock’s biggest names lending their time and talent.
“Human trafficking makes more money than arms sales, and it’s the second largest criminal industry in the world today. The first being illegal drugs. It’s that prevalent, and that huge of a money market and many gangs use the practice to pay their bills, by selling these children from one gang to another gang, and forcing them into a life that they weren’t created to be in, “Estrada explained in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood 360.
“It’s happening right here in our own backyards.”
Being the father of two daughters, Estrada said that it breaks his heart to think girls their age and even as young as 7 years old, are being kidnapped, sold and abused through human trafficking. Even though they may not have had daughters of their own, the musicians could relate.
“I don’t have kids, but I have nieces,” Dan Estrin, guitarist from Hoobastank, told us. “I see young girls out playing PokemonGo, talking to random guys and think, ‘how easy would it be for someone to just snatch them up?’ That’s scary shit.”
“I’ve worn every hat in the music industry—radio, retail, marketing,” Kevin Estrada added. “I mostly shoot photos and music videos for rock bands for a living. But I only go to the people I know care and have the right intentions. All of these musicians here tonight have very warm hearts…There are so many good people in rock music,” Kevin Estrada told us. It’s not just Bono and Coldplay who want to make a difference.”
Papa Roach , Hoobastank ,Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys), Rudy Sarzo and Blasko (bassists for Ozzy Osbourne), Shawn Duncan from Odin, members of London, Edge of Paradise and The Mendenhall Experiment were just some of the altruistic rockers that came to Lucky Strike Live, ready to help raise money for the cause.
“We’re here to win some bowling, bust some balls, and support a great cause,” Alan Krigger, the drummer from London, shared with us.
“It’s a great charity,” the guys from Papa Roach all agreed. The event fell on Jacoby’s birthday, and he decided to celebrate by coming out to rock for freedom.
“What better way to change peoples’ lives than through music?” Jacoby told us.
There were raffles, silent auctions and door prizes with autographed rock memorabilia, guitars, and music going on throughout the night with every dollar generated that evening being donated to the fight. Some lucky auction winners were able to bowl alongside a rock star by winning a spot on their team which included team captains Doug Robb and Dan Estrin ( Hoobastank), Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys) and bass legend Rudy Sarzo and current Ozzy bassist Blasko and LA Metal Legends.
Opening up for Papa Roach were local LA bands Edge of Paradise and The Mendenhall Experiment.
Following some gracious remarks from Kevin Estrada himself. The first of two opening acts took the stage.
Edge of Paradise is a local LA band formed in 2011 by vocalist, Margarita Monet and guitarist, Dave Bates. Their performance jump-started the night’s music sets with impressively intense vocals by Margarita Monet, head-banging guitar by Dave Bates, wicked bass by Nick Erickson and drummer, John Chiminsky’s driving pulse keeping it all together.
Edge of Paradise was a hard act to follow, but LA band The Mendenhall Experiment, flipped their hair to the challenge and succeeded. Besides being a kick-ass rock band, they are particularly inspiring as a band focused on bringing disability awareness to the masses. Several of the band members have disabilities that they have worked hard to overcome.
The founding member, Brandon Mendenhall, has cerebral palsy and was told he would never be able to play guitar. But he wasn’t going to let that stop him, and at age 19, taught himself to play guitar. Now he is the lead guitarist of a band who got to open up for one of his favorite bands, Papa Roach. Bassist Nate Stockton has also been able to overcome being deaf through his music. Mike Lira, explosive lead guitarist has been a successful solo artist and younger brother Bruce Lira on drums is a powerhouse. Fronting the band with his dynamic vocals is Mario Valadez. The Mendenhall Experiment is one of the many bands Kevin Estrada believed in when no one else did.
Headliners for the night Papa Roach took the stage amid chants, “Papa Roach, Papa Roach,” from the packed house and didn’t disappoint. There was crowd surfing by attendees as well as Jacoby himself. Midway during their set, a cake was brought out and the fans all sang a rousing “Happy Birthday” to Jacoby who was hoping to share the cake with crowd and treat them to all-out cake fight, but instead we were all treated to Jacoby leaving the stage and jumping on the bar to get up close and personal to the thunderous crowd singing along to “Where Did the Angels Go.”
At the end of the night there was over $18,000 raised to fight against human trafficking at the “Rock for Freedom 2016” event. All of the proceeds of the night go directly to the cause—fighting against sex trafficking.
Estrada is right—there were a lot of good people in rock music who came out to make a difference and it looks like they did.