Artists for Action Voter Registration Concert and Rally at Marquee Theatre Last Night

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Ryan Wolf
Miniature Tigers. See more shots in our Artists for Action slideshow.
Artists For Action featuring Calexico w/ Miniature Tigers, Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta, Big Son featuring Sam Means of The Format and Jeff and Chris of Reubens Accomplice, Sand Rubies, Salvador Duran, Kinch, and more...

August 27, 2010

Marquee Theatre

About 1,500 people showed up at the Marquee Theatre to support the Artists for Action voter registration concert and rally.

The free event was run by the Artist For Action group that uses music as a tool to support democracy and gets people at concerts to sign up to vote, came off as more of an awareness-raiser than a rally for change, but it was a nice event.

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Ryan Wolf
Terry Goddard stresses the importance of voting.
HeadCount volunteers spent the evening helping people register and sign a pledge to vote on November 2. Other organizations in attendance included Border Action Network, Repeal Coalition, No More Deaths, 3rd Pace (Sol Rebel Unity), Tonatierra, and Chicanos por la Causa.

Kinch kicked off the evening with a solid set on the outdoor stage, which was set up in the courtyard near the front of the building. Their set list included "All I Done" and "The Economic Chastisement," in addition to an untitled new song they've been working on.
They finished off with a heavier sound, implementing some screaming and a thunderous keyboard. Sadly, however, Kinch basically began the night by neglecting to speak up about anything political at all, which was
disappointing.

Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta blew everyone away with a fun, flawless upbeat performance of their Latin big band music. The brass section was fabulous, as expected,
and the band as a whole really showed Kinch up in terms of musical experience.
Sergio raised his cup and said "cheers," and everyone who had a drink in their
hand raised their cups and bottles with him. The fact that the crowd was
already enthusiastic about the cause they were there for only added to the
intense energy that Sergio y la Orkesta blasted throughout the room. He even
had a few brief stints where he tap danced in the middle of his songs. Baila! However,
Sergio was another artist who unexpectedly didn't say anything political. Really, what's up with that?

Thankfully, Miniature Tigers spoke up and encouraged fans to go out and vote and "put an end to this bullshit." Why it took so long for artists to mention their views last night may forever be a mystery.

Jennifer Allen, executive director of Border Action Network, gave a speech before introducing Calexico. "We have the power to take back Arizona," she said. Allen encouraged the audience to tell five of their friends about whom to vote for to ban SB1070. "It's about organizing," she continued. The crowd then booed Andrew Thomas and Tom Horne before Calexico took the stage.

Tucson's own Calexico stressed education, expression and "getting deep down into the music" at the beginning of their show. The performance included fan favorites "Not
Even Stevie Nicks," "Quattro (World Drifts In)," and "Across the Wire," which they ended with an amazing trumpet solo, and well as some instrumental jams.

While the evening was packed with musical talent, it surprisingly lacked much political expression. No loud picketers or protesters showed up to the event. A few people rocked Legalize Arizona shirts and political pins, but all in attendance seemed to have been there just to enjoy free music.

Even though most people who were there came in opposition of SB1070 and in support of voting, very few people voiced their opinions. If concertgoers wanted more information from an organization, they had to approach the table themselves; fans were not being approached, and nobody was walking around passing out fliers. If anyone wanted to sign a petition, they had to track down someone with a clipboard. The night seemed to be a gathering of a silent majority; everyone was there for a cause, but for the most part, nobody was taking much initiative. It was oddly inactive for such a supposedly
proactive event.

The Crowd: Families with children, hipsters and human rights activists

Overheard in the crowd: "Bring back the power to Arizona!"

Random Notebook Dump: Opening band Kinch might as well be considered as the newer, better Ben Folds Five.


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3 comments
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Itsprettytothinkso
Itsprettytothinkso

Maybe Conor Oberst was right when he said "a blunt instrument" was the best tool. I went to the Concert for Equality in Omaha last month where every single artist I saw mentioned something political between songs and the ACLU were all over the crowd (I'm still getting plenty of e-mails about Fremont).

Besides that, I would estimate they raised about $50,000 or so for the cause. A free concert is a nice gesture, but it is still a gesture if no one influential raises their voice and a "pledge to vote" is as good as a card in your wallet. Maybe we didn't elect Jan Brewer as governor but she was actually elected to office, so we bear some responsibility. Don't get me wrong, I really hope she dies from Chardonnay-poisoning or a tanning lotion overdose, but I think this concert would have been way more effective if it had been held in June when the attendees could have been educated earlier and (hence) voted in the primaries.

Artists for Action
Artists for Action

Lenni, just saw you edited the original story. Thanks for updating!

Artists for Action
Artists for Action

Thanks for covering the event, but we would like to clarify a few things.1) The event was sponsored by Artists for Action/VivaArizona.org. HeadCount graciously helped with the voter registration.2) The purpose of the concert was to initiate voter registration and pledges as well as to educate interested fans about immigration issues through organizations that work directly with the issues. It was not a protest concert.3) We thought that the music the bands played told a bigger story. This approach was purposeful and felt like a more effective way to energize the crowd in a positive way rather hit the fans over the head repeatedly with speeches by the bands rather than music.4) The speakers in between each of the bands affectively educated the fans about the dismal voting statistics (less than 1/4 of eligible voters between 18-29 voted in the last mid-term election) and what needs to been done to effect change in the state. The final speech by Jennifer Allen was a rally cry, explaining that the vote is in the people's hands and that a number of contentious races were decided by less than the number of people that were at the show.5) Finally, the biggest success of the night was that 79 new voters registered and 1052 voters pledged to vote in the November 2nd election!

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