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Anti-Bush bands play Tucson

DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tucsonan and Food Not Bombs representative Keith McHenry educates 16-year-old Salpointe High School students on the situation in Iraq last night at the Rialto Theatre during the Punk Voter tour. NOFX headlined the show, which protested President Bush and encouraged patrons to protest the war in Iraq.
By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, April 16, 2004
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Event registers voters, protests war in Iraq

The Punk Voter tour showcased plenty of love for punk rock, but none for President Bush.

Booths and protesters from various organizations greeted attendees, many clad in "Not My President" T-Shirts with Bush on the front, as they walked into Rialto Theatre last night.

While the debate over who should run the country is up in the air, punk rockers already seem to have cast their vote.

While openers Authority Zero and Alkaline Trio didn't try to give their fans a message, speaker Jello Biafra and headliner NOFX never stopped bashing Bush.

"I think if you're a Democrat, it's great for you," said fine arts freshman Matt Orozco of the bands' messages. "It's kind of an eye-opener for most people."

While Orozco wasn't swayed to vote against Bush in November, he said the concert raised his awareness. Other students agreed.

Am I aware that this is left-wing propaganda? Yes. But it's not anything new.

- Mike Burk, media arts senior


"It puts some knowledge out there for the younger crowd who wouldn't watch CNN but they'd probably come to this show because they are into the bands," said studio art sophomore Taylor Cotton.

Besides the bands, other groups were given the opportunity to garner support for their political endeavors.

Music For America, an organization that promotes voter awareness, has registered more than 1500 voters during the three-week tour.

"We're focusing on the real issue of getting people involved in politics no matter what it is," said "Chuck," who ran the Music For America booth.

Plea For Peace and Food Not Bombs also had booths, but the musicians had the most sway among the audience.

"Tucson went really well," Biafra said after speaking for about 20 minutes. "I wasn't really sure what to expect here because Tucson has a reputation as a jock school and Arizona having a real right-wing reputation. But people are way more into it than in Bakersfield and other places."

Biafra, former lead singer of the punk band Dead Kennedys, said he joined the Punk Voter tour to give his Green Party perspective and support people to register and vote against Bush.

While some people yelled approval after every jab at the Bush administration, others listened without cheering or booing.

"The reason that you have to keep (speaking) is not just for the people cheering, but for the people standing there doing nothing, because they haven't heard some of this shit before," Biafra said.

Michael Jones, a media arts junior, came to the show for the music, but ended up buying two message shirts, one "Real Men Don't Rape" and a "Not My President."

"(The message) is all Anti-Bush, so some people probably fall into that. But you've got to think for yourself," Jones said.

The punk mentality has always been anti-establishment, but musicians like Biafra and Fat Mike, lead singer of NOFX and Punk Voter founder, are aligning with political organizations to make a bigger impact.

Keith McHenry, founder of Food Not Bombs, said most of his organization's 500 chapters are made up of youth, with the help of the punk rock community.

"Food Not Bombs was very active in the late '70s and early '80s to get the punk movement started in the United States," said McHenry. "The bands that are playing here have our address and phone numbers on their liner notes."

Besides the booths, merchandise and band opinions, the tour also played a Punk Voter DVD between bands. The DVD featured comedians dissing Bush and clips showing the government officials shifting their views on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"Am I aware that this is left wing propaganda? Yes. But it's not anything new. Bands have been using the stage to promote their political agendas for years," said media arts senior Mike Burk.

Burk said the show was the liberal equivalent of a country concert, which might have booths that asked people to support the troops in Iraq.

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