By Alex Distefano
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The stellar LA quartet Warpaint will return to Orange County on Friday for the first time in nearly a year and a half for a show at the Galaxy Concert Theatre that will also include sets by TRMRS and Tijuana Panthers. It's sure to be an amazing night—one that everyone involves wishes wouldn't have to happen. The bands are performing at a benefit for the family of Haley Butcher, a Huntington Beach teenager who died on Nov. 7 due to complications from a rare blood disease, myelodysplasia (or MDS).
"I met Haley more than a year ago at a house party in LA we played at," remembers Tommy Stewart of TRMRS. "I knew she was sick, but I didn't know it was that serious until I heard she passed away. Soon after the news broke, our friends Scott [Montoya] and Brooks [Nielsen] from the Growlers contacted us, explaining that one of our fans died and about TRMRS playing at a benefit show for her family and the charities that supported her. He also said the Growlers and Warpaint separately performed for her on her deathbed. All this being said was really heavy news to everybody in the band, and of course we said yes."
Montoya gave Stewart the contact information for one of Haley's best friends, Samantha Dietrich, who helped him set up the benefit.
3503 S. Harbor Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Category: Music Venues
Region: Santa Ana
"Haley was a truly unique individual," Dietrich says. "She was beautiful, talented, and she had a slicing wit. Somehow, some way, she managed to laugh through everything. She was able to find humor in the most unlikely places. At her first [medical] appointment that I attended with her and her family, she somehow had everyone in the room cracking up, even though her doctors were explaining the side effects of chemo."
Stella Mozgawa, Warpaint's drummer, recalls the band's performance for Butcher during her final days. "To play for a fan who is unwell could be quite a severe situation, but we wanted to do our best to fulfill the desires of her family, to make sure that she was comfortable and to provide something as we could," Mozgawa says. "It was just two acoustic guitars, tapping on a case and singing, and it was a very unique experience for us. Just as a person, we saw some videos friends of hers played from their Blackberrys and their computers. She was an incredible firecracker of a girl who had an unadulterated love of the human experience—really fiery and really magnetic."
Stewart notes that putting together the show took a bit of work, but everything came together in the end. "The show wasn't exactly easy to set up, as the Growlers unfortunately realized they weren't able to play the show, but thankfully, Tijuana Panthers were able to fill in," he says. "It was important because we wanted to keep the bands cohesive with happy music that related to Haley. It's going to be a very special night, but most important, we want the feelings to be sentimental and uplifted. We hope everyone can dance and be happy in remembrance of Haley. . . . We are so stoked that we are able to help out."
The nonprofit event is kind of a memorial to Butcher. "It's apparent what a great friend she was," says Dietrich, "just by looking at the dedication that her friends showed as she reached her final days. Twelve of us slept in waiting rooms the night before we had to say goodbye because we didn't want to leave her side for a second." She says Montoya ordered pizza to be delivered to Butcher's friends who were with her.
"In the days after her death, all of her friends gathered together to keep Haley's spirit alive by telling Haley stories and reminiscing," Dietrich says. "She is still the only thing we talk, think and dream about. We love her so dearly."
This article appeared in print as "For the Benefit of Ms. Butcher: Three kick-ass bands come together to help out the family of a late fan."