Music fans had mixed reactions to Wednesday’s rock-star-studded benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. The “12-12-12” relief event for victims of Hurricane Sandy sold out the Midtown Manhattan stadium and was broadcast to nearly 2 billion people around the world. With a lineup that included rockers from across the decades like the Who, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones all the way through to Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder and Kanye West, the six-hour-long event is being compared to 1985’s historic Live Aid concert, which raised money for the Ethiopian famine.
And as most critics pointed out Thursday morning, critiquing the concert for its reliance on aging rock stars or its cultural significance would be to completely miss the point, which was to raise much-needed money for a storm that has come with a price tag of more than $71 billion for New York and New Jersey.
So how much did “12-12-12” raise? The Robin Hood Foundation, the poverty-fighting organization collecting the proceeds, estimates $30 million from ticket sales alone, while proceeds from donations via the concert telethon are still being tallied.
A spokeswoman from Robin Hood told IBTimes that numbers from the concert telethon are still being "scrubbed," but that prior to the concert, Robin Hood had already raised $15.7 million in donations for Sandy relief, $14.8 of which has already been granted to storm victims.
As of Tuesday evening, final tallies for the telethon are still not available, but Robin Hood has an updated list of grantees where money is being distributed. Click here for details.
Meanwhile, the concert will keep on giving in other ways, including through ongoing donations and sales of “12-12-12” merchandise. Memorabilia from the event is now being auctioned off on the website CharityBuzz.com. Some of the top bids so far include $36,000 for a Fender guitar autographed by Paul McCartney, Springsteen, Roger Daltrey, Billy Joel, Dave Grohl, Chris Martin, Michael Stipe, Eric Clapton and Jon Bon Jovi. (Someone clearly thought to capitalize on the rare occasion of having so many legendary musicians in one venue.) As of Thursday afternoon, a sweatshirt worn on stage by Kanye West had attracted exactly zero bidders, which just seems like something worth mentioning.
Charity aside, the concert had its share of ripe-for-Twitter-derision moments, including a reunion by the surviving members of Nirvana. Rolling Stone praised the song they performed, “Cut Me Some Slack,” as a “shockingly great new tune,” but not everyone was thrilled with the idea of Paul McCartney filling in for the late Kurt Cobain. “It’s the second-worst thing ever to happen to Nirvana fans,” quipped Gawker.
Some critics also pointed out the paucity of female performers on the roster, which, aside from Alicia Keys, was largely a boys’ club. “There’s no doubt that the men on the stage are proven draws, and their presence helped make last night’s concert a world-class event,” wrote Forbes contributor Teresa Genaro. “It also reinforces a troubling standard about who is seen to have commercial clout.”
Still, there was plenty of time to reaffirm the evening’s stated goal with impassioned appeals from the celebrities on hand, who reminded viewers time and again that Northeast residents displaced by the storm are still in dire need of aid.
The “12-12-12” concert was produced by executives from the Madison Square Garden Co. and Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises, as well as the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Donations are still being accepted here.