Enjoy where you are right now. That’s the aphorism rendered on a tall wall at the 27 Club, a destination coffee shop located in Cleveland’s Flats district might draw pause from the more cynical folks descending upon the city for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, it fits the vibe of the weekend perfectly. In the spirit of that great notion, SPIN teamed up with Machine Gun Kelly (who also owns the 27 Club), Stand Together and The Phoenix for a night of rock history, mental health awareness, and some glorious beat-powered camaraderie.
Featuring a panel that included representatives from the philanthropic Stand Together community and The Phoenix, a community for those in recovery from alcohol and drug addition, the evening was a tacit acknowledgment that mental health is a genuine concern for both artists and fans seeking vicarious refuge through the art. To that end, panelists spoke unabashedly the importance of mental health initiatives, sharing their personal experiences and recovery journeys, in an era that culture has mistakenly perceived as a “post-COVID.”
The event and dialogue coincide with the launch of SPIN’s IMPACT hub, a new platform to raise awareness and inspire action around some of society’s most pressing issues, particularly as they relate to driving awareness through music. Mental health awareness is key for IMPACT, as artists have played a crucial role in opening dialogues about personal vulnerability and maintaining a covenant of concern for their fans. Stand Together is a philanthropic community using bottom-up solutions and innovative partnerships to tackle America’s biggest problems Stand Together and its partner the Phoenix – brought stories of success through physical, social and education programs, that help participants build confidence, self-respect, and community.
Panel moderator Dr. John C. Hardin of Stand Together underscored the current human condition succinctly. He revisited the world’s last pandemic in 1918 and thereafter when the country’s life expectancy rates went up decade after decade. By stark contrast in 2015, the rates went down and have continued to do so, long before COVID. Dr. Hardin said that “deaths of despair”—suicides, drug overdoses, and alcohol-induced liver disease—continue to be driver by “people facing challenges in mental health and addiction.”
As part of the panel, Los Angeles-based Dance music artist/DJ ASW (whose work is frequently described by friends as “Pink Floyd space music disco”) also shared his personal experiences with addiction and using alcohol to mask bigger problems he had faced in the past. The Phoenix founder, triathlete/fitness advocate Scott Strode, , shared incredible stories of physical activity and the resilience, recovery and restorative mental health benefits it brings to the 65,000 member-strong community. The panelists’ authentic stories brought a naked, yet uplifting awareness to the evening, without undercutting the celebratory nature of the evening.
Following the panel, attendees were treated to refreshments, some inspired DJ mixes, and an exhibition of covers from SPIN’s history in the magazine format. Bona fide legends such as Nirvana, Green Day, Rancid and Radiohead were acknowledged. A larger wall featured massive cover photo blow-ups of Jim Morrison of the Doors, grunge figurehead Kurt Cobain and the neo-soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse, all of whom died at the height of their popularity at age 27.
While MGK did not perform at the event, he did arrive later with an entourage, cheerfully working the room and earning the shared respect of industry types, Rock Hall tourists and fans who came by to tear loose in their clubbing finery. Kels carried himself like a hometown boy made good, exhibiting gratitude — as opposed to being tarred as the dude with a psychic Frigidaire constantly strapped on his back, keeping all the beef arctic cold.
Clearly, MGK was taking his own advice. Because whether it’s in heavy thoughts or bombastic beats, you should always enjoy where you are right now.
See more highlights from the event below.