On June 7, voters in California and New Jersey hit the polls to support the candidate they want to see in the White House come January. Festival season has been underway for a while now too, and it’s without a doubt that Bernie Sanders supporters have infiltrated your local coffee shops, bars, concert halls, campgrounds, even your next door neighbor may be “Feeling the Bern.” Whether you’re a supporter of Senator Sanders or not, the overwhelming support from celebrities, musicians, your classmates, professors and more cannot be ignored. The outside observer might wonder, so whats up with this 74 year old Senator from Vermont and why is he a political superstar?
His ideas, like free public college for every American, relate to many Millennials and their siblings who may still be paying off their college loans (if they could even afford to attend a 4 -year university), and have become frustrated with President Obama’s administration. Music has long been a political tool, and with the popularity of festivals as a means to create change and bring people together, festivals can become political rallying causes quite easily. With Facebook groups like ‘Bassheads for Bernie‘, that bring together Bassnectar fans who support Bernie Sanders, like minded individuals can organize more personally this era (Facebook has only been around since 2006, how’d we survive before?) than ever before.
Take for example “Rave for Bernie,” as reported by Rolling Stone on June 1. This 12-Track compilation album created by the Grassroots political action committee “Rave For Bernie” highlights Sanders supporting electronic artists including Baassnectar, Z-Trip, Ill-Esha, Justin Martin and Reid Speeed. Stream the entire compilation on Soundcloud:
Besides making a great addition to your Summer playlist, “Rave for Bernie” has two larger goals. As reported to Billboard by ” die-hard burner” Tommie Sunshine who curated the compilation, these are “to rally support around a man who is trying to change our world for the better. Two is simply to show that electronic music artists can galvanize around a cause and change the conversation within our scene. Each artist involved here is passionate about Bernie and isn’t afraid to be vocal about it.”
Over the past several months, “Bernie Man” festivals, a play on words and ideas from Burning Man, have sprouted up across the U.S. to bring like minded individuals together in support of Sanders. Hoopers, musicians and artists of all trades have gathered at “Berns” in NJ, NY, VT, CA , TN and more.
“A lot of musicians in the electronic music scene, especially Bassnectar, share a lot of the same ideals as Bernie Sanders,” said Francesca Cecala, a Brooklyn based audio engineer who has worked for nightclubs, concert halls and music festivals across the country. “I’ve seen plenty of Bernie supporters at various festivals,”Cecala added. “I’m an active member on the Facebook page Bassheads for Bernie and I constantly see people posting pictures of themselves and fellow ‘Berners’ showing their support at festivals and concerts.”
Why does Bernie Sanders’ politics appeal to so many ‘Bass Heads’? Maybe because of the overlapping ideas in music and politics: “ I know Bassnectar has spent his entire music career trying to warn his listeners of corruption in politics and promote love, peace and equality so it’s a no brainer that Bernie Sanders would the perfect candidate for him, “ said Cecala, adding “ I would say most Bassheads also share these same ideals so it’s no question why groups like ‘Bassheads for Bernie’ quickly formed.”
While most campaign parties rely heavily on fundraising , I would argue that the main focus of the “Rave for Bernie” movement, or at least what it should be, is to educate people and increase the numbers of those who “Feel the Bern,” such as young adults who may be voting for their first time. The target audience for the “Rave for Bernie” Movement doesn’t have a lot of money to donate, but they’re powerful in their ability to communicate and act as political influencers among their peers.
The tradition of musicians acting as political influencers among their peers and fans is not new.
“Basically, it’s a tradition that goes back generations, and crosses over many different styles of music,” said Salvatore J. Fallica, Media Ecologist and Professor at New York University, who studies social and political propaganda, public education, celebrity culture, media events and spectacles.
“Of course, the template is usually the 1950s and 1960s when the American folk music revival brought social protest music to the forefront of popular culture, singing and performing at rallies for voter registration and anti-segregation movements; but even in the 1930s, during the depression, “new” artist such as Frank Sinatra, were sought out to sing and perform by FDR at rallies supporting the New Deal social programs; Bruce Springsteen with a number of other artists, like Bonnie Raitt did a tour of the swing states for John Kerry in 2004, and Katy Perry and others have been supporting Hillary more recently.”
For an example of political music in more recent years , Fallica noted the 2008. Will. I. Am video “Yes We Can.” Check it out below, the video features various celebrities singing words and phrases of Barack Obama.
“Voting is never just an instrumental way of expressing one’s views, but is a social act, very often an aspirational act for citizens, so popular culture helps in that way; but in the end, no singer or celebrity or performer is “key” for a candidate’s success (according to various studies) but candidates want to show voters a whole picture of themselves, and therefore seek performers out; of course, performers and celebrities are citizens too, and besides contributing money, they will rally around issues that are important to them and the candidates that support those issues,” added Fallica. As for the artists who voice their political side? This can provide them with “authenticity” that rounds out their image.
The festival scene has also become very creative in making personalized Bernie Sanders gear. For examples check out this “Rave for Bernie” Pinterest board I curated highlighting the cool and unusual “Bern” wear across the web.
While it’s true Sanders lost to Clinton in both California and New Jersey, he’s still in the race and has a lot of support in the hearts and minds of young voters.Regardless of the outcome of the election this November, the message and ideas that Bernie Sanders embodies will not go away as long as his “ravers” still carry his flag.
Where can you Rave for Bernie next? Check out Sanders’ official website to find out about the next volunteer event in your neck of the woods.