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Talkin' About a Revolution (Sort of)
Band Against Bush - by Grant Moser

Okay, so it's not technically a revolution, but what with the "claustrophically patriotic" environment prevalent today (as Candice Vance, one of New York Bands Against Bush's organizers, puts it), Bands Against Bush (BAB) is a good start. Imagine a series of mini-Rock the Votes throughout the country, all organized locally, and you'll have a rough idea of what the organization is attempting to accomplish.

BAB is an international movement, with chapters throughout the United States and in France, Ireland, Britian, Australia, and Canada - but is a loosely-based confederacy. Apart from a central mission statement (that local chapters can adapt to their own uses) and an international day of action on October 11, 2003 (and any future simultaneous days), local chapters are "free to take the idea and implement it in our own way," said Vance.

The main goal of BAB is to foster communication; raising awareness of how the Bush administration's foreign and domestic policies are detrimental to the world's future. The organization raises awareness and gets people involved mainly through concerts. Many attendees are of the younger generation by default because of the music, and groups can speak between songs, and information (including voter registration) is provided at tables.

BABNYC also hands out zines with articles focusing on activism, art, and "issues that are important but not well-covered in mainstream media," said Vance. These important issues, according to Vance, include the administration's attempts to stifle opposition, and "that our government is becoming less and less transparent and participatory and certain rights that are fundamental to a functional democracy are being eroded."

Tina, from Man in Gray, one of the bands that has participated in BABNYC's shows (including the October 11 show), thinks the movement is a good start and that audiences at the shows have been very involved. However, she said the political overtone of the shows aren't stifling. Man in Gray performed a pretty much straight-up rock set ("We don't really wear our politics on our sleeves"), and had hoped for a bit more political activity at the shows, "like options of place to volunteer, rallies, or alternative news sources."

"There weren't any speeches or anything and the tabling was sparse, but maybe that's the point: people who come to these shows are already going to be against Bush, so not much needs to be said," she said. But she still thinks BAB is on the right track to getting people involved again.

"I'm not sure if it's the art that will influence people to become active … or if it is something [already] latent in a particular person … I think that people have to have something else in them in order to become active," Tina said. Which, BAB hopes, will be awakened by the music and crowd around them.

This sentiment was echoed by Gina Young, who also performed for BABNYC at the October 11 Action Day: "Sometimes it can seem like we are preaching to the choir … but then again, if all the people who hate Bush were actually actively protesting … things could be different … I hope Bands Against Bush can be an inspiring, galvanizing force."

Gina talked a bit during her set, mentioning solidarity and the importance of actually doing something, in an attempt to get people active. "Ideally, Bands Against Bush will encourage a lot of young people to take their ideas to the streets and really use the power that we have to resist. And to resist creatively."

So, if everyone coming to the shows (apart from the token Homeland Security agent) is anti-Bush, what do these concerts do? Just provide resources for people "to become activated politically," said Vance. "Just getting people thinking and feeling again can break the kind of apathy that most of the country is feeling right now … People are numb because they feel powerless and frustrated, and sometimes experiencing something fierce and beautiful in art can bring the feeling and the optimism back and get people moving."

A request for comment on the organization or this article was sent to the White House with no response.

For more information on Bands Against Bush, visit: http://www.babnyc.org


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