You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Stranger Things’ Stars, 5 Seconds of Summer Cover ’80s Hits for Charity

The combination of music from the 1980s and 1990s drew an eclectic mix of stars to the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday.

At “Strange 80s,” a benefit concert to raise funds for Sweet Relief, the organization founded by singer/songwriter Victoria Williams in 1993 to offer assistance to musicians in need of medical care, the “strange” part of the night came at the start, when host and “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard performed three tracks with his band Calpurnia (the standout: their version of New Order’s “The Age of Consent”).

Speaking to Variety before the show, Wolfhard said the band picked songs from a long ’80s playlist. “We just listened to a bunch of different songs,” he said. And with music such a big part of the Netflix show, which song from the decade of excess would suit the series best? “Because ‘Stranger Things’ is a synth-[heavy] show, maybe some super weird ’80s synth pop like Tangerine Dream.”

Television played a big part in “Strange 80s,” with another “Stranger Things” star, Chelsea Talmadge, kicking off the main event, and Dylan Minnette from “13 Reasons Why” who performed two songs — including a Smiths cover — with his band, Wallows.

As it was, the set lists covered a wide range of styles, from ’80s hair metal (“Round and Round” by Ratt) to a Billy Joel classic (“Vienna”) to “Footloose” staple “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.”

The audience also covered a wide span, from those reliving their youth to adolescent fans likely hearing these songs for the first time. And, no surprise, the youthful contingent in the crowd saved the loudest screams for the likes of 5 Seconds of Summer’s Ashton Irwin and Calum Hood, who performed The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” with Goldfinger frontman and in-demand producer John Feldmann.

On the opposite end of the music spectrum, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor led a metal super group in a cover of Prince’s
“1999” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

“The music community has always been, to me, family,” Taylor said. “We’ve always looked out for each other and this is just another way to look out for each other. Some people aren’t as fortunate as I’ve been and they need a little bit of help when it comes to health care and taking care of medical emergencies. That’s why this charity is so important for that.”

Added Feldmann: “When I moved to Los Angeles in 1987, it was in hopes of becoming the next Guns N’ Roses with my band, the Electric Love Hogs. And our guitar player died of a heroin overdose. I’ve watched people become drug addicts and get kicked out of bands. There are a lot of musicians that at some point in their life can’t hold down a real job, whether it’s because they’re bipolar or suffering from depression and can no longer support themselves as a musician. We’re here to prevent suicides, drug overdoses, and hopefully help people that can’t show up and work on their own.”

Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, who performed her own “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” stressed that in the current political climate, where health insurance is at hot-button issue, an event like “Strange 80s” is more important than ever.

“As a musician, over the decades it’s gotten harder and harder, and so many musicians are without insurance,” she said. “And everyone knows that people don’t really pay for music anymore, so if you don’t already have money, it’s really hard to get along in this world. And Sweet Relief helps people so much and I very much believe in that cause. I believe all Americans should get health insurance. To me, it seems more of a right than a privilege. But, be that as it may, thank goodness Sweet Relief is here for the musicians that don’t have insurance.”

Other highlights of the evening included appearances by “Weird Al” Yankovic, members of Tenacious D, and comedian Sarah Silverman. Precious Kid also performed “I Want Candy,” which channeled all of the playfulness and swagger of the original, and Filter frontman Richard Patrick merged his own “Take a Picture” with U2’s “Bad” into an impassioned, soaring medley that impressed with its vocal power.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show premiere,

    Cara Delevingne Talks Immigration, Taylor Swift's Battle With Scooter Braun

    Cara Delevingne, whose faerie character in “Carnival Row” finds herself washed ashore as a refugee in a foreign land, said she was immediately drawn by the show’s fantastical take on issues of immigration and assimilation. “It’s a cause that I have been involved in for a long time,” Delevingne told Variety at the premiere of [...]

  • John Travolta, Fred Durst. John Travolta,

    John Travolta Recalls Fans Breaking Into His House: 'I Was Scared the First Time'

    Nobody can accuse John Travolta of not being gracious to his fans, whether it’s an autograph, a selfie or, you know, a home invasion or two. “I’ve only had two people that actually invaded my house,” Travolta told Variety at the premiere of “The Fanatic” at the Egyptian Theater on Thursday night. “They were just [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • 50 Cent Power S6 Premiere

    50 Cent, Snoop Dogg & Trey Songz 'Power' Up New York City for Massive Season 6 Premiere

    “Power” is entering its final season, but you would never know if you walked by Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on Tuesday night. Starz pulled out all the stops for its ratings powerhouse “Power,” throwing a massive premiere event, complete with a full-length concert at Madison Square Garden from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and a [...]

  • Diane Warren'Late Night' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Songs of Hope to Honor Diane Warren, Marc Shaiman, Boi-1da, More at 15th Annual Event

    Cancer research and treatment center City of Hope today announced the initial lineup of presenters and honorees who will celebrate the song and songwriter at its 15th annual Songs of Hope event. Among the music and entertainment industry VIPs in attendance will be veteran executive and producer Clive Davis, producer Boi-1da (Drake, Kendrick Lamar), award-winning [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content