Young people have been accused of apathy in this election cycle, but one constituency — Seattle’s punk rockers — is trying to get the vote out.
After the Republican convention in July, Rachel Ratner, who plays guitar in the Seattle punk band Wimps, decided she needed to make a move.
“I realized (Donald) Trump was going to be the candidate and felt great concern for what a Trump-filled presidency could look like,” said Ratner. “His policies seemed ignorant, racist, xenophobic, sexist and classist and I was worried about how that could translate into not-too-distant reality. I felt like I wanted to do something, if, at the very least, to facilitate a space for my friends and I to talk about what we were feeling.”
Ratner posted her idea on Facebook and friends quickly chimed in, offering to make merchandise and help her organize each event. Kill Rock Stars, Wimps’ label, also came on board as a sponsor.
Punk the Vote: Wimps, SSDD, Nail Polish, Malidont (JT Champion)
9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at Black Lodge, 431 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle; $5-$10 (206-244-7126 or facebook.com/events)
The result was Punk the Vote, a seven-show series at various venues, where listeners can bone up on the election while listening to some of the hardest-hitting punk bands in the area.
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The series began mid-October at The Vera Project with underground local groups like The Ousters, Gruft and the garage-y Tacoma band Blotterz. A subsequent show saw Oakland’s Spray Tan shaking the stage, as well as the first performance in six years by Butts, a pop-punk duo comprised of Ratner and Shannon Perry.
On stage and in the audience, there has been a palpable undercurrent of frustration, a spirit captured well by the reception of provocative Seattle punk band Night Boss on Oct. 21 at the Funhouse.
The group’s fishnet-clad lead singer Dan Enders danced out his anger and purged his criticisms of election season as supportive “whoops” and cheers were tossed back at him on stage.
At voter booths beside the stage, patient volunteers walked people through the ballot and handed out “cheat sheets” to educate voters on the significance of the different policies and candidates. Those resources, coupled with free stamps and the passionate punks onstage, sent the message to a potentially apathetic constituency loud and clear: There’s no excuse to skip the polls.
“I wanted these shows to be reminiscent of the Rock the Vote and Rock Against Reagan movements of my youth,” said Ratner. “I hope people will walk away from these events with a growing enthusiasm for voting, and an increased understanding of local ballot issues.”
The next Punk The Vote show is Friday, Nov. 4, at Black Lodge, right before Election Day. It features Wimps as well underground Seattle darlings Nail Polish, SSDD and Malidont. All proceeds will go to Black Lives Matter.