Friday, May 8, 2015

Rock Against Bush/Jade Tree United w/Strike Anywhere, From Ashes Rise, and Challenger Creepy Crawl, May 6, 2004

 There’s a big-time problem with the voting-aged youth today and Punkvoter wants to do something about it. In the FAQ explaining the organization’s existence, the problem is laid out succinctly and in boldface type: “Something needs to be done to unite the youth vote and bring real activism back into our society. Punk rock has always been on the edge and in the forefront of politics. It is time to energize the majority of today’s disenfranchised youth movement and punk rockers to make change a reality.” While that sounds nice and polite, if you claw your way past those delicately chosen words, the message is blunt: Dubya must go and Punkvoter sees organizing the young, punk rock vote as a small step toward that goal. Thus, the Rock Against Bush tour was born.

Sweeping through the states, Punkvoter has been registering voters at every stop. At the show, Strike Anywhere vocalist Thomas Barnett said that the tour was averaging between 20 to 50 registrations every night, but the Midwestern cites have been “a little dry.” He said that Music for America organized the voter registration with help from Planned Parenthood, and even MTV stepped in to assist when MFA was not able to find a local registrar to sign people up. Unfortunately, he said it was possible there would be no voters registered this evening, as St. Louis has no local MFA rep to cover the show. Those fears were soon put to rest as Karrie and Sarah from Planned Parenthood dropped from the sky, armed with registration cards and condoms: the night was saved. With the voter side covered, the stage was set for the punk rock thing. On the tour that night was a quartet of Jade Tree Records bands: Strike Anywhere, From Ashes Rise, Challenger, and new signees Breather Resist.

Following short sets from St. Louis’s Step on It and Breather Resist, Chicago’s Challenger (which includes three Milemarker members) took the took the stage in support of their new record Give People What They Want in Lethal Doses. While their Hüsker Dü–inspired punk was genuine and heartfelt, they are growing less impressive to me with every listen. Judging by their merch table, the band appeared more interested in spreading their progressive message than playing music and hocking t-shirts and CDs. By rough count, their table had over 35 books with topics ranging from the bicycling organization Critical Mass, to Marx and Anarchism.

In the penultimate performance of the evening, From Ashes Rise guitarist and vocalist Brad Blowright provided the comedy with a perfect example of someone thinking he’s making a deep, significant statement when he’s actually coming off as a moronic goon. Near the end of the band’s set of shout-and-scream, metal-edged hardcore, Blowright went into a tirade about the current state of things in this country. While most of what he said was probably true, all I heard was that he ended every point by saying it was “bullshit.” The climax of his monologue was ended when he told everyone who supported the conflict to “get the fuck out!”

Up last, Strike Anywhere was by far the best band of the evening. While Challenger brought the right message to their merch table and By From Ashes Rise delivered virtually nothing, Strike Anywhere took the stage with the right attitude. Upbeat, high-energy, and positive, Strike Anywhere’s brand of punk rock was catchy and up-tempo, with a boatload of sing-a-long choruses. Call me hokey, but after hearing three bands that were borderline metal with boorish vocalists, it was pleasant to hear Thomas Barnett sing with a semblance of melody. Barnett also got brownie points for taking the time to physically point to the front of the Creepy and inform the crowd in a calm but pointed voice that Planned Parenthood was there to register them to vote. When Strike Anywhere finished their set, the current total at the voter table was a peace sign. As I left, there were probably 25 to 30 people lining up in the merchandise area. One hopes they all headed for the table up front before they left.

No comments:

Post a Comment