9/30/2008 4:59:33 PM
, a legend of American jazz music, has been detained in Portugal, followed by the FBI in Manhattan, and embraced as a hero by a South African parliamentarian who had been jailed during apartheid. All of this for his legacy of protest songs without words.
The bassist will bring his decades-old and ever-changing Liberation Music Orchestra to New York City's Blue Note jazz club in early November, the same week Americans vote for George W. Bush’s successor. At a show in Minneapolis last week, the longtime radical told audience members he’s sure the results will warrant celebration.
“He feels strongly that we're at a critical moment here,” says Philip Bither, performing arts curator at the Walker Art Center and the person responsible for bringing Haden to Minneapolis. “He's completely convinced that the McCain camp represents a continuation of the Bush policies that have been an utter catastrophe for the United States and the world at large.”
Haden, whose contribution to jazz can be traced back to his bass playing on three seminal records by saxophonist Ornette Coleman, convenes his Liberation Music Orchestra only during Republican administrations as a soundtrack of resistance. The group's self-titled 1969 debut was a reaction to Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War his administration inherited. Ballad of the Fallen, released in 1982, was a statement against Reagan's policies in Latin America. George H.W. Bush was president when Dream Catchers was pressed in 1990; a comment on the tragedies and struggles of Latin America (again) and South Africa.
The militarism of George W. Bush inspired the Liberation Orchestra's 2005 release, Not in Our Name. Haden chose the title while touring through Europe in the early stages of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. “We were walking down streets in different cities, and we would see unfurled from balconies of the apartment houses: 'Not In Our Name' … the people in Europe really cared … that stuck with me,” he recalled in a 2006 interview.
“Touring jazz musicians,” Bither says, “have a unique vantage point on how America is viewed in the world.”
In Minneapolis last week, Haden and his 11-member orchestra responded to what America has become by reclaiming it. A rambling medley anchored in “America the Beautiful” was equal parts somber, sentimental, joyful, and subversively discordant—a formula the group has held to since its inception.
Traditionally, the Liberation Music Orchestra—aided by brilliant pianist and composer Carla Bley, Haden's collaborator since 1968—has appropriated songs of liberation and protest mostly from other nations. On Not in Our Name, Haden decided to play music only by American composers—his own form of patriotism. “I wanted to do 'America the Beautiful,'” he said in an interview shortly after the album's release, “to show that there's a lot of work that needs to be done in this country.”
Here's a video of Haden and Bley
and the Liberation Music Orchestra performing in 2003—convened in response to the prospect of a second term for George W. Bush.
Image by Thomas Dorn, courtesy of Walker Art Center.
9/26/2008 5:37:49 PM
The director of the indie film festival favorite Ballast is taking the feature to American audiences his own way: city by city, like a rock and roll group on the road:
Kaufman, in his review for IndieWire, called the drama “tough” but “far from impenetrable,” “a crystal clear humanist vision of broken-down people who find a semblance of stability in each other.”
9/26/2008 3:28:18 PM
Good magazine is asking its readers to join the ranks of artistic politicos and get creative for the cause. Reviving a project the magazine started for the 2006 midterm elections, Good is soliciting original bumper sticker designs incorporating the word “vote.” Why bumper stickers? “From 'My child is an honor student' to 'Support our troops,' Americans have been using their cars to get messages out for a long time,” writes Good. “And if you’ve ever been stuck in traffic, you’ve had time to contemplate quite a few messages being broadcast from the SUV in front of you. This project is simple: a bumper sticker. The message is simpler: vote.”
Here’s a sampling of submissions from 2006 and the current project:
—Amy Martin, 2008
—Gary Holmes, 2008
—not attributed, 2006
—Steven Blumenthal, 2006
—Gabriel Avenna, 2006
Images courtesy of Good.
9/25/2008 12:19:53 PM
The American Society of Magazine Editors has announced the finalists for its third annual “Best Covers” competition. The covers are indeed gorgeous, but the judging smacks of bias. Even though the organization’s website says that entries are considered “based on excellence in design/creativity, not on circulation figures,” the nominees are almost exclusively high-circulation and fairly New York-heavy. (The New Yorker is nominated four times, New York magazine six.) It prompts the question: Can they really call it a “Best of” competition when only a small slice of what’s out there is represented? Or are high-profile magazines the only ones with the artistic talent that makes the grade? The winners of the eight categories will be announced Monday, October 6.
9/23/2008 11:14:53 AM
For nearly ten years, Jennifer Ilse and Paul Herwig have been staging productions in their own backyard—literally. The Off-Leash Area Contemporary Performance Works is headquartered in the couple’s garage, which they converted into a 38-seat theater.
But there’s nothing amateurish about the company’s production values, and with more than a dozen original productions to their name featuring luminaries of the Twin Cities theater scene, Ilse and Herwig are garnering acclaim for their performances and set designs.
The garage shows are still intimate, informal affairs: “While we have the full support of our neighbors, to minimize neighborhood disturbance, attendance to events at Our Garage is by reservation only,” the Off-Leash Area website reads. “After each performance the audience is invited to Our Backyard to visit with their fellow patrons and the artists for an evening by the fire pit and for refreshments.”
I suppose it’s this sort of ingenuity that has allowed the Twin Cities to boast more theater seats per capita than any American city outside New York.
opens next month in the Off-Leash garage; check the website for showtimes.
Image by dmealiffe, licensed by Creative Commons.
9/18/2008 10:07:30 AM
The Seattle-Tehran Poster Show that premiered last month at the Bumbershoot music and arts festival is an enlightening mashup of graphic design sensibilities in which Western motifs and techniques meet Persian script, and the hipster rock world intersects with ancient Middle Eastern culture. The show’s approach is to pair up posters, one by a U.S. artist alongside one by an Iranian, based on their styles and imagery.
Although the Iranian posters are not explicitly political, their design choices are more loaded with meaning than meets the Westerners’ eye. “In Iran, graphic design is viewed by many as a creation of the West and is met with skepticism,” Mark Baumgarten writes in Seattle Sound (article not available online). The use of Persian script itself is guided by cultural strictures.
“Graphic designers in Tehran are expected to treat it with a respect that does not allow for using the language’s characters creatively,” he writes. “Still some artists are rebelling against that orthodoxy.” One is Shahrzad Changalvaee, whose work (above) is paired with a Spoon poster by Jeff Kleinsmith in the show, which is being billed as the first exhibition of contemporary Iranian posters in the United States.
Curator Daniel R. Smith, who traveled to Tehran to find poster artists, tells Seattle Sound the search was a challenge—he had to escape his “tour guide” minders to do it—but that state censorship was more a chilling effect than a death-sentence scenario.
“There’s just this general sense of what you probably shouldn’t be doing in terms of imagery and definitely in terms of political stuff and poster design,” he says. “But what I also hear is that whatever you want to do in private is not a problem. If you want to have a private exhibition of nudes, you can have it in your own house.”
The Seattle-Tehran Poster Show will be on exhibit through October 15 at Design Commission in Seattle. Next year it will travel to Tehran, where its organizers aim to share it with Iranian designers who are often prohibited from visiting the United States.
Images of posters by Jeff Kleinsmith and Shahrzad Changalvaee courtesy of the
Seattle-Tehran Poster Show
9/15/2008 11:31:27 AM
Music videos have come a long way. The medium began as live-audio, one-take film shorts called soundies (like this one from 1941 for Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train"), but has since morphed into a lustrous presentation of glossy models singing pre-recorded audio (like Rhianna’s video for “Disturbia,” this week’s most popular video on mtv.com)
But even with such a technology surplus, a small group of filmmakers are exploring exactly what we can gain from taking a few steps back to capture that raw enthusiasm and unabashed sincerity.
The Take Away Shows and the Athens Soundies are modern one-take live-audio music videos featuring both well-known and obscure musicians. The Take Away Shows began in April 2006 as a project of Chryde and Vincent Moon, founders of Blogotheque, but has since become a worldwide spider web of directors and musicians updated almost daily. It also inspired Jason Miller, Ethan Payne, and Jason Luttrell of Eikon Productions to start up the Athens Soundies in March of this year.
When it’s a larger act on screen, like R.E.M., the take-away message is easy: Music is as integral to these musicians’ lives as eating, and they’d do it with or without the record sales and sold-out arenas. When it’s a relatively unknown musician, things get a bit more personal. Maybe it’s just a new name to seek out at the record store, but it’s might also be reassurance that everyone (including you, yes, you!) has a creative spark that can’t be stifled by the modern world, unless you let it.
The Soundies’ deviance from the modern-day music video in no way sacrifices plot. Alison Weiss sings “I Don’t Wanna Be Here” walking down a modest Main Street with her brother on backup guitar, two discouraged orphans on the run from an anonymous third party.
Rambunctious Port O’Brien takes over a karaoke bar in “I Woke Up Today
,” rousing up an old-fashioned sing-along as the disgruntled owner looks on cautiously.
Every subject is cast as unapologetically human, and there’s a heartwarming moment in each episode. For example, Yeasayer’s “Red Cave
” is a pan-ethnic religious rights ceremony held in a subway car, the attendees of which are only linked by the close quarters and the beer in their fists. The song’s first half, an engrossing four-part harmony, ends as the subway pulls to a stop; frontman Chris Keating salutes an exiting passenger, and the group picks it up a notch as the doors swing shut. It turns into a full-on drum circle, everyone laughing as beer gets spilled, singing, “I’m so blessed to have spent the time with my family and the friends I love / In my short life, I’ve met so many people I deeply care for.” Their stop comes just in time, and they exit with their fellow passengers in what seems like slow motion.
If that’s not uplifting…
Probably the most charming thing about the Take Away Shows and the Athens Soundies is the improbable audience each video creates, such as the lone cashier and shopper at a small grocery in Drakkar Sauna’s “Paul’s Letter to St. Job.”
Man Man also recruits quite the band of followers in “A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera” in the form of a rollerblade-clad children’s choir. As the website’s description of the video puts it, “Among kids there’s nothing to ask to, because they understand immediately. Music as it comes, alive and freed from all constraints.”
In recent updates to the Take Away Shows, the line between spontaneous expression and and preplanned concert is unfortunately blurred. Take, for instance, Priscilla Ahn’s “Dream,” and “Living in a Tree,” both performed in front of a microphone and a small crowd of people. The audio is live and uncut, but the visuals resemble something too close to a music video, the blurriness planned rather than random. I’m not one to infer that the Take Away Shows’ original mission has in any way been abandonded; I’d just like to see more banging on garbage pails.
Regardless, both the Soundies and the Take Away Shows remind the viewer of a simpler time, one of earnest creative expression, before music was computer-generated and planned so far in advance. But more important than that is the assurance that this culture of unprompted art, bound by nothing but energy and a chance at companionship, is alive and well in the world.
9/15/2008 11:04:40 AM
A new zine found its way to Utne Reader all the way from Berlin, wrapped in a strip of German grocery ads announcing “Neu!” products and low prices. In small, handwritten letters on a thin edge of white space is the title Paper Kills Trees, nearly lost in the colorful array of Haselnuss cookies and Leichtgold butter. A collage of images and cut-and-paste words, Paper Kills Trees is former Utne intern Kristen Mueller’s sense-arresting art zine. Among scattered cut-outs of gilded jewels and sequins are elegant peacocks, photos that stir nostalgia, children’s doodles, an old advert for acne cover-up, and graph paper sketches of distinctly modern design.
It may sound as if Paper Kills Trees is an incoherent mishmash collection of ideas, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The cover asks “What is inspiration?” and the pages that follow echo deep-felt, imaginative responses. With attention-demanding design and fragmented poetic phrases, Mueller manages to unify the seemingly disjointed pieces in an answer to the age-old question, creating 12 full-sized pages of inspiring art.
9/5/2008 12:14:06 PM
“I wasn’t sure for a minute if this show was going to happen tonight,” singer Zach de la Rocha told the frenzied crowd of Rage Against the Machine fans Wednesday night at Target Center. The people roared. Only a day before, the police had shut down the Ripple Effect Festival at the Minnesota State Capitol just as de la Rocha and his bandmates were arriving to make an all-but-surprise performance.
The resulting fracas put a heady spotlight on Wednesday night’s show—as if Rage weren’t already sufficiently politically charged. Following 9/11, Clear Channel banned every one of the rap-metal band’s numbers on the notorious list of “songs with questionable lyrics.” In 2000, the evening of a Rage performance across from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles ended in violent protesters/law enforcement conflict, soon after which the band split up—remaining disbanded for six-and-a-half years.
Last night, no rust was apparent. Alert sirens wailing, Rage took the stage in darkness. Fans screamed. Floodlights snapped on. Four figures stood in orange jumpsuits, black hoods over their heads. Even as the bass pounded, the sight of those iconic garments was chilling. Rage played a fever-pitched “Bomb Track” clad in that attire, recognizable only via de la Rocha’s inimitable voice and Tom Morello’s unmistakable finesse with the guitar.
Bassist Tim Commerford and guitarist Tom Morello jam during “Bomb Track.”
After the first number, Rage executed a quick-change off stage, re-emerging in street gear and belting out “Testify” to an ecstatic audience—many of whom, doubtlessly, were seeing Rage for the first time, having either missed the boat or been too young in the ‘90s. At least, there has to be some explanation for the googly-eyed delight splashed across everyone’s faces. This wasn’t standard-issue rock star gawkerdom: It was as if Che Guevara himself had just burst out of Brad Wilk’s kick drum.
Rage cranked through an impressive set with seemingly boundless energy. (At one point I found myself wondering how any of the spry guys have knees left, after years of jumping, bouncing, stomping, and leaping. De la Rocha’s unrelenting vocal chords present an equally vivid mystery, although one perhaps enlightened by this detail: He sipped a mug of what looked to be hot tea between several songs.) Quite frankly, too, I’d be remiss if I didn’t harp on Morello’s fantastic guitar playing; his fingers looked like a piece of cloth fluttering in wind as he poured them over the frets.
At the end of the evening, after Rage closed with “Killing in the Name,” de la Rocha took the pitch down a notch, evenly entreating fans to demonstrate discipline when they momentarily flooded out into the riot-cop-lined streets of Minneapolis. It was a noble effort (and showed remarkable restraint) from the fiery frontman, although the message was somewhat diluted by his politically-stirring between-song commentary and a light display that read: RNC F*CK YOU. But his words clearly came from a place of genuine concern, and, really, there’s only so much you can do when you’re trying to convey nuanced approaches—such as “peaceful, but not passive”—to a stadium arena’s worth of people.
Which is why, almost inevitably, there were some people not content to leave it at that, and a portion of the crowd dispersing into First Avenue began a slow, somewhat disjointed protest that ended with 102 people being detained several blocks away for “blocking traffic.” Minneapolis law enforcement was clearly prepared for the worst: Riot-gear-clad officers were present on foot, bikes, and horseback, as well as in squad cars, motorcycles, and mini vans (plus a small vehicle that looked like offspring of a golf cart and a Hummer). Here are some photos from the post-Rage ruckus:
The aforementioned small vehicle, from which Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan instructed the crowd—which was blocking the street—to disperse. The area was thick with curious onlookers, most of whom didn’t clear out, presumably because they didn’t consider themselves part of the protest action.
The Minnesota Peace Team, a squad of volunteers trained in de-escalation techniques put together especially for the RNC, was present, as were the Guardian Angels. The two Peace Team members pictured above successfully talked down a shirtless concert attendee, who stepped forward (alone) and danced ridiculously as the mounted police attempted to advance their line.
Eventually, a more organized group of people emerged, hoisting a banner made of four defaced American flags. A group of people collected behind the flag, which the bearers carried forward in a challenge to the police line.
Things seemed as though they would come to a head as the flag-bearers marched into a blockade on Seventh Street; all officers present, including bicycle and mounted police, pulled on their gas masks. If it was a scare tactic, it wasn’t apparently scary enough: The crowd of onlookers remained placidly stationed along the sidewalk. One gleeful fellow (was he protesting? gawking? did he even attend the show?) skipped past me and naively chipped: “We’re gonna get gassed! Something big is gonna happen now!”
When the police barricade dispersed, the protesters made an impromptu march down Seventh—where, eventually, police surrounded and detained them, a “tame” round-up, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. All but two individuals were given citations and released. “In a way, for most fans, it was the perfect end to a Rage concert: defiance of arbitrary authority without painful consequences, just enough real danger to get the juices going. (‘Fuck you, I will do what you tell me, but only after shouting at you for a while!’),” writes Peter Scholtes for the Minnesota Independent.
Images by Julie Hanus.
For more of Utne.com’s coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here.
9/5/2008 9:12:23 AM
Stepping into the Provention concert on Tuesday night at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, was literally a breath of fresh air. Clouds of dissipated tear gas hovered in the cool evening outside, and a din of antiwar chants, shouts, sirens, and police helicopters echoed through the downtown canyons as I arrived late, delayed by an encounter with several thousand riot police and protesters. Going through the lobby was like disappearing through the looking glass, and soon I found myself settled in a soft velvet chair, fully ensconced in the music of singer-songwriter Haley Bonar, the sound of conflict swept out of my mind by her acoustic guitar and plaintive voice. No longer in danger of being arrested, I was now being serenaded
While other RNC-related protest concerts this week Raged Against the Machine, staged a Coup, and hoisted the Anti-Flag, Provention was a more thoughtful and less in-your-face affair, meant not so much to fight the power as to create a sense of kinship amid chaos. Joe Spencer, the arts and cultural liaison for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman who was instrumental in organizing the concert, said as much from the stage in between sets.
“I’m scared by the guys with the face shields,” he said, referring to the riot police, “and I’m scared by people who are picking up bricks from hundred-year-old buildings and throwing them through windows. So I’m conflicted, and when I feel conflicted I long for a strong sense of community.” Musician John Munson, who originally came up with the Provention idea, called the event “a tent of togetherness.”
Bonar, like most of the performers who followed her, chose songs that hewed roughly to the politely political theme. Introducing “Nobody’s Safe,” she noted that she marched in Monday’s antiwar protest but decried the rabble rousers who took things too far. Her reflective, folky songs were disarmingly honest, and when she said, “St. Paul is a great city,” it didn’t sound like an RNC welcoming slogan but a heartfelt sentiment. (Before I arrived, several acts, including Maria Isa, the New Standards, and Jeremy Messersmith, had already played.)
Next up were the Warblers, the duo of Chris Osgood and Dave Ahl, former members of Twin Cities proto-punks the Suicide Commandos, dressed like dude ranch guests and harmonizing on topical old-time ditties like “Everybody’s Going for the Money” and “Wild in the Streets.” All night long, novelty-style acts like this filled the between-set slots, giving the concert the air of a variety show.
The Warblers were followed by another harmonizing duo, the Twilight Hours, composed of Matt Wilson and John Munson, who played sweet and passionate modern pop that occasionally entered the rock and roll zone, as on Wilson’s sweeping “Descender.” Both former members of beloved Twin Cities band Trip Shakespeare, they still have a strong musical kinship and well-matched voices, with Munson holding down the low end and Wilson holding up the high with his still-boyish timbre. Their opening song, “These Dreams Are Killing Me,” and the Big Star classic “Ballad of El Goodo” were especially delectable. They were joined for a while by Matt’s brother, Dan Wilson, also a former Trip Shakespearean as well as a more recent bandmate of Munson in Semisonic.
Potent, literate rockers the Honeydogs next took the stage as a nine-piece and soon grew to 10, bringing an expansive, textured sound that recalled Elvis Costello’s bigger bands, complete with a three-piece horn section. Leader Adam Levy had a special stake in the concert, having stepped in to help an overwhelmed Munson organize the gig. He acquitted himself well as both concert promoter and bandleader—and as usual made a strong sartorial statement, rocking a pinstriped white suit with a red-bloomed boutonniere. “Truth Serum,” Levy’s plea to his soldier son with the line, “You’re too young to die,” was one of the evening’s most powerfully topical songs.
Dan Wilson next played a solo set, drawing on Semisonic material as well as tunes from his solo album, Free Life, and singing his Grammy-winning song written for the Dixie Chicks, “Easy Silence.” He described the Chicks as “bad-ass” for weathering the right-wing attacks on their infamous George Bush critique.
The final act, New York singer-songwriter Nellie McKay, apparently didn’t get the memo about rhetorical restraint, acerbically riffing on Sarah Palin, Ronald Reagan, Joe Lieberman and other ripe targets in song and speech. “She’s a zealot,” Levy noted as he introduced her, and this was not a complaint but a compliment. McKay’s smart wordplay and all-over-the-place sound made for a bracing conclusion to the concert despite a thinning crowd.
When I finally stepped back onto the streets well after midnight, it was quiet and still, with little sign of the night’s earlier chaos. It seemed that Provention, which was billed as “a concert for people, peace, and the planet,” had achieved a bit of good on all three fronts.
Image by Charles Robinson.
9/4/2008 1:00:31 PM
Only 16 protest permits were given out for groups of at least 25 people for this year’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. As I write this, several hundred protesters and activists have been arrested, many of them in the midst of “civil disobedience,” often simply congregating without a permit.
But many organizations in the Twin Cities are proving that the party doesn’t stop once the permits run out, especially in the GBLT community. This week has given an already blossoming queer scene the fuel to burst with carnivals, performance art, theater, and music. And hey, what’s deviance without a flaming hula hoop?
Pi Bar, a Minneapolis queer karaoke bar and restaurant, was more hopping than ever on Sunday when it hosted the adult-only Carnival of Deviance, a benefit for organizations providing assistance to RNC protesters. “Carni-core” punk band the Knotwells set the mood with a wild take on Americana, and Gay Witch Abortion, voted one of First Avenue nightclub’s best new bands in 2008, played with a fervor that induced foot stomping heavier than anything seen on the streets of St. Paul.
The carnival, organized by Pi co-owner Tara Yule and Pi entertainment director Shannon Blowtorch, also featured the sword-swallowing Bedlam Theatre troupe, a “bizarre bazaar,” side shows, and a cabaret, all for the purpose of uniting the dissenting queer.
Yule noted the intersection between queer and subversive culture in a recent interview with the Daily Planet: “We’re a bar for alternative, subversive, and counterculture clientele. The actual intention of Pi is to be a place for all people who are subversive or progressive in some way—not only lesbian or gay....This carnival will be a jumping-off point making a statement, reflecting who we are...We need to reinvigorate the counterculture movement, and that’s why Pi is here. We are good at bringing people together. It’s a magical place.”
The next day, as people were just getting comfortable in the shade after Monday’s march of 10,000-plus people, New York performance artist Sharon Hayes and her band of queers interjected: “My dear lover, I know you will be angry at me for speaking to you like this in public but you left me with no other choice.”
It was Revolutionary Love 2: I Am Your Best Fantasy, a two-part perfomance art piece that took place at both conventions this year as part of Creative Time’s summer-long national public art initiative “Democracy in America: The National Campaign.” Hayes recruited about 75 citizens in Denver and Minneapolis to become the medium of her work by reciting, in unison, a script that explores the relationship between sexual and political desire, and dismantles the traditional power structure of political address.
“This morning I tried to get into the convention to talk to you,” they went on, “but I don’t have a pass and there are police and party officials four lined thick down there. It’s not like the old days when things were loose and you could flirt or lie your way in. I’m not quite sure what you're all so afraid of. What’s with all the armor? Are things really that bad?”
The Gay Liberation Movement is still forging new relationships between love and politics, and the crowd of smiling, sequin bikini-clad queer folk surrounded by pink and yellow “Gay” balloons at Revolutionary Love couldn't help but bring new life to a Stonewall-era Gay Liberation chant.
“You may be holding yourself up inside those layers of people, but I know that the ears are the only orifice that can’t be closed. I am an army of lovers, my sweet, and I want you to hear me very clearly. I’ve found my voice and with it I scream, 'I love you!’”
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here.
Images courtesy the Bedlam Theatre, Sharon Hayes.
9/3/2008 1:56:59 PM
The words “music festival” invite rain, and Tuesday was no exception as Ripple Effect, a drizzly but celebratory arts and activism festival, took shape on the Minnesota State Capitol lawn, in jubilant defiance of the convention happening at the bottom of the hill.
The local jam band Wookiefoot was first, featuring the Orthodox Jewish rapper Matisyahu guesting on vocals. Until Tuesday I had been under the (grateful) impression that jam bands fell out of vogue when Phish broke up, but the fervent crowd emphatically proved me wrong, and I was suddenly surrounded by a magnitude of dreadlocks and hemp clothing I haven’t experienced since my college days.
During one break between songs, the lead singer addressed the Wookiefoot faithful thusly: “You have heeded the call … the call for all Jedi to galactivate!” Whatever language he was speaking, the audience took it to heart.
Still, my uninitiated tastes and the intermittent rain were not about to dampen the spirits of the festival participants. There were a number of tents offering political and spiritual shwag, and numerous artistic assemblages, such as this flower art that passerby were invited to help sculpt:
There was also an elegant and affecting memorial comprising some footwear of those killed in the Iraq war:
And not just fallen soldiers, but civilians too:
All told, Ripple Effect seemed a tentative success. The crowd I observed was well short of the 7,000-10,000 people Substance had anticipated, but after I left things apparently gained momentum, as the crowd swelled and the Establishment crashed the party.
For more coverage of the event and links to featured artists, speakers, and groups, visit the Ripple Effect website.
Images courtesy of the author.
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here.
9/2/2008 10:07:43 PM
Rage Against the Machine fans who flocked to the Ripple Effect festival at the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday didn’t get the free concert they were expecting, but they certainly got a show.
Police shut down the fest before Rage took the stage, much to the dismay of fans, who responded by chanting “Let them play!” and “Free speech!” while pumping their fists in the air.
Not taking no for an answer, the band, led by Zach de la Rocha, descended into the crowd gathered on the Capitol lawn. After instructing fans to keep the peace, de la Rocha let lyrics fly into a megaphone and then led an excited pack chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” on a spontaneous march through St. Paul.
State troopers, riot police, and snipers flanked the crowd and were tight with information about why the concert was cut short. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the performance was stopped because the band didn’t have a permit.
The scene promises energy will be high at Rage Against the Machine’s Wednesday show at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here .
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