The indie-pop duo Overcoats is curating and performing in a live music festival on Thursday evening, May 21st, which they’re calling The Fight For NYC. The NY-based band consists Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, and they – like almost all musicians – have been struggling with the idea of not being able to do the single, most basic thing that musicians do: play music for people.

“We were devastated to not be able to play our Music Hall of Williamsburg show,” says Elion, “our big hometown album show which was meant to happen just a couple of weeks ago.  So we wanted to do something for New York where we could donate money to an organization that’s doing good work in the city right now – and get our artist community back together.”

The Thursday night lineup includes such notable figures on the Brooklyn indie scene as Torres, Margaret Glaspy, and Porches – all of whom have recent albums and would normally be touring around to support them now.  The organization they’ve chosen to partner with is the Association To Benefit Children (ABC), which provides in-person support to families at risk of child abuse and domestic violence, and which also provides childcare to front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19. 

“It was a NY-centric idea from the beginning,” Mitchell explains.  She points to the nightly tradition of clapping at 7 p.m. for essential workers as a source of inspiration: “We wanted to dedicate more than just two minutes of clapping to organizations working on the front line.  And so it was always the plan for us to really focused and rallying around a New York City cause, and the ABC does really important work.”  She adds that they felt the lineup of musicians had to be NYC-based as well.  “We have a lot of musicians who are friends and we’ve toured with who are not based in New York, and it would’ve been amazing to have them, but we wanted the whole lineup to be performing as a love letter to New York.” 

Overcoats’ new album is called The Fight, and although it was recorded before the pandemic, its theme of resistance and perseverance has taken on new levels of meaning.  Hana Elion points to the song called “Fire and Fury”: “It has a line that says ‘the world as I know it is coming to an end’.”  As Mitchell observes, “there are a few songs that are ‘we’ll get through it’-type ballads.  One is ‘Fire and Fury’ and another is ‘I'll Be There.’  And those have taken on a much more powerful and different meaning for us.  It’s sad that we can’t tour now because so much of the joy of putting out a record is the experience of singing it for people in a room and feeling how the words are helping people.  But songs are always taking on new meanings as the world around us changes.”

The Fight also represents a new sound for Overcoats.  Their well-received debut LP featured glowing, almost folk-style vocal harmonies set in a wash of electronic pop.  This new LP hits harder, with more of a rock sound.  In the intervening two-plus years, the duo graduated from college, started living on their own, lost family and friends to what Elion refers to as “mental health complications and gun violence,” and came to the realization that, as she says, “life doesn’t get any easier when you grow up, and you don’t really understand much more; you just have to fight harder.”   

And so the live streaming festival is called The Fight For NYC.  Elion, who is actually quarantining in Maryland, says “it’s been heartbreaking to see the struggles it’s gone through – uniquely, because it is New York and because there are so many people there and the rent costs and all the things that makes it an amazing place and also a difficult place.  So we really wanted to do something that was centered around our hometown.” 

As Mitchell points out, most people know that musicians have been financially impacted by the loss of touring income; what they may not know is that musicians are feeling an emotional loss as well.  “It is a really crucial part of the album cycle,” she explains.  “You hole up for two years, and then so much of our emotional rebuilding after having birthed this ‘album/child’ is from connecting with fans.  And that’s gone now.”

“I hope people come and watch and donate,” Elion says, “but what I’m most excited about is just to talk to the other artists and really feel a part of a community.  Because that’s the part that we really need.”

You can watch The Fight For NYC on Thursday May 21st at 7 p.m. EST at