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By Tania Zapien
Music Journalist

AUSTIN, TX— On Wednesday, Jan. 22, ACL Live at The Moody Theater hosted the third annual Hi, How Are You Day show in honor of Austin artist, Daniel Johnston. The event celebrated Johnston’s life work of music and art with stellar performances by Dan Luke & The Raid, Katie Schecter, Tunde Adebimpe, White Denim, Jason Falkner with surprise guest, Spoon, and closing with none other than Cage the Elephant. 

If you’ve spent enough time in the capital city, then you’re probably familiar with Johnston’s iconic “Hi, How Are You” frog mural on the corner of 21st Street and Guadalupe. It is this exact mural that inspired Tom Gimbel and Courtney Blanton to create the Hi, How Are You Project, a non-profit organization focusing on breaking the stigma around mental health by encouraging people to start conversations about mental health in their communities. 

Daniel Johnston, the artist behind the beloved mural, was a singer-songwriter and artist who struggled with mental illness and used his fame to encourage others to open up about their own struggles. With his help, the Hi, How Are You Project kicked off the first Hi, How Are You Day on Johnston’s birthday in 2018 with a benefit and concert event at the Moody Theater.

The singer of Cage the Elephant is sitting on a speaker while performing.
Grammy award winning band, Cage The Elephant, headlined Hi, How Are You Day 2020 at the Moody Theater in Austin, TX. Image by Tania Zapien.

What started as a day encouraging Austinite’s to check on their neighbors, friends and family, has officially been recognized by the city of Austin and the State of Texas. The day continues to be celebrated despite Johnston’s passing in September of last year. If anything, this year’s event became even more inspiring, as many of the artists decided to pay tribute to Johnston by performing covers of his songs in their own style. 

The evening was full of anecdotes and heartfelt speeches by the performers in hopes of lifting the audience’s spirits and assuring them that they’re not alone. To commemorate the event and Johnston’s legacy, Vans and No-Comply Skateshop, teamed up to release a limited edition sneaker covered in artwork created by Johnston for his 1983 album, Hi, How Are You. The shoes are set to be released in March. 

Cage the Elephant, who headlined the event, delivered a powerful and intricate performance. In addition to the never ending props and incredibly real emotion portrayed by singer, Matt Shultz, their performance was a perfect package thanks to his own personal stories of mental struggles shared in between songs. 

As the night came to a close, all the performers of the evening came on stage together for their rendition of The Beatles’, “All You Need Is Love,” while dozens of colorful balloons dropped over the crowd. 

All of the performers of the night are standing on stage. Several are huddling over microphones and hugging each other while they sing. There are a dozen colorful balloons covering the crowd.
The evening’s performers came together for an uplifting rendition of ‘All You Need is Love’ by The Beatles. Image by Tania Zapien.

For more information on the Hi, How Are You Project and how to get involved in your community, visit their website. Make sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter for updates. 

Featured image by Tania Zapien.

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