KYIV – From precisely noon on November 13, Ukrainian musician Stas Koroliov and his band started playing their new song.
Mr Koroliov said the band would only stop playing the same song after raising at least 1 million hryvnia ($27,000) for the Hospitallers, a volunteer paramedic organization that works to save Ukrainian soldiers wounded.
Audiences at the Squat17b art space and online viewers donated throughout the six-and-a-half-hour performance.
By 6:30 p.m., the band had reached their goal and finished the concert.
The fundraising concert was an interactive performance – after every 100,000 hryvnia raised, the audience chose from several pre-set options that dictated what the musicians would do next.
During the show, the members of the group exchanged instruments, drew cats, read a lecture on Bach, played a drum solo, ate a Kherson watermelon and called singer Yulia Yurina and director Nariman Aliyev.
Throughout the concert, surprise guests appeared on stage. They interacted with the band and the audience.
They included musician Anton Slepakov, stand-up artist Vasyl Baidak, Ms. Yurina and screenwriter and TV host Oleksandra Hontar.
When the band finally raised 1 million hryvnia, the musicians played another song about the air raids from their new album, which is due out soon.
Mr Koroliov shot to fame in 2016 after appearing on the Ukrainian version of Voice. He was a member of Yuko group and in 2021 he started his solo career.
Mr Koroliov, from Avdiyivka, a town about 10 kilometers from Donetsk, helped evacuate his family after the large-scale Russian invasion began in February.
“Some of us were sure to hit the million mark on day one, but I didn’t think we’d achieve that even in two days. We were able to bring in so many cool, driven people and organizations, and it’s ‘went faster than expected,’ Mr Koroliov told a correspondent for The Ukrainian Weekly.
Mr Koroliov said the group had an agreement with the venue and the broadcasters that they would continue to perform all night unless they hit the target on the first day.
“We had no intention of stopping. That’s what this event is all about – creating drama to draw people in. The more difficult the task, the more logical it would be to continue. Each new hour makes it even more legendary. It was win-win.
The only risk was to die on stage, so I would like to end the concert in a realistic setting. And luckily we finished the same day,” Mr. Koroliov said.
Yevheniia Vidishcheva was among the participants in the event, and she said she had no doubt that Mr. Koroliov and his gang would collect the million hryvnia within hours.
“Artists raise money for the military with these spectacular performances because that’s what they do best. They know how to create new concepts and use innovative approaches to their art,” she said.
“I attended the concert because I like the band’s music. They always create original and innovative projects. I knew the concert would be amazing, full of emotion and drama. It was a unique and amazing performance, and I don’t want to miss events like these,” Ms. Vidishcheva said.
Ms Vidishcheva, a cultural manager, said the concert had it all: lots of special guests, interaction with viewers both online and in the audience, and dramatic tension when the number of donations approached one million hryvnia. .
Things were constantly changing during the event: guests and performances came and went, changing the dynamic of the show.
Ms. Vidishcheva also noticed how the band members and their team supported each other.
“I noticed that after four hours the drummer looked exhausted, but then someone gave the performance a boost, and everyone got excited. I couldn’t stop staring,” she said.
Mr Koroliov said the drummer was not the only one feeling a little sick and exhausted on stage.
“When we noticed that our saxophonist was not feeling well and was in danger of fainting, our director put a message on the screen asking if he wanted to play keyboards. A wind instrument is the most hard on the body. It’s unhealthy to play the sax for so long. We all felt bad the day after the performance, but everything is fine now,” Koroliov said.
“That the show raised a million [hryvnia]is such a unique thing for me personally. With my perfectionism, any event we do is never perfect. And there, since we had a goal and we achieved it, for the first time in my life, I feel that it’s a victory without a single drop of doubt. And it’s so interesting. It makes you feel like it was all worth it and that you’re doing cool, useful, and original things. And you feel that your life is still worth something. It’s cool that we made it special not only for the band but also for everyone who was involved in spreading information and donating,” Mr. Koroliov said.
The funds raised were used to purchase 50 sets of winter car tires needed by the Hospitaliers medical battalion to help them save lives.
“Hospitaliers is an organization that has been around for a long time. They have many success stories. We hadn’t done any work before to support the Hospitallers, so we decided to partner with them this time around. We asked [them what they needed most]and it turned out that tires are the most urgent thing needed right now,” Mr. Koroliov said.
“I still don’t know how to end 2022. There’s not enough time to digest everything that’s going on. You have to zoom out, which is impossible when you’re inside that rabbit hole,” Mr Koroliov said, referring to the full-scale war launched against his country by Russia in February.
“At some point, I realized that it was necessary to regularly delve into information about what is happening at the front, but consciously. Don’t scroll fate or victory all the time because you stop controlling your mental state, it stops being healthy and you stop being effective. But I always want not only to rejoice, but also to help: either in a cultural sense, or in a material and voluntary sense,” he said.
“I vividly remember when we ate a watermelon on stage, and I focused on the fact that it was a watermelon from Kherson. It touched me,” he said.
At this point in the concert, Mr. Koroliov recalled thinking that watermelon tasted dignified.
“This concert, in my opinion, is an example of a positive-sum game. Because everyone benefited: those who donated, those who distributed the money, the broadcasters and the foundation, those he helped and those who were inspired by the gathering,” said Mr. Koroliov .
“We did not die in this war, and we will win precisely because we are now a nation with a very positive attitude. And this is the result of our unity. I call on the whole world to unite against Russia, and we will win,” Koroliov said.