When I was in my twenties, a young, liberal and idealistic man, I was told by one of my high school coaches (and one of my best friends to this day) that as I grew older I would outgrow those liberal ideas. He was right. I went through my late twenties and early thirties 100% conservative in ideology. Then I really grew up.
You see my friends, I began to realize around the age of 36 how asinine it was for me to think in such heavy black and white terms about things. Take notice of the fact I am referring to me, I see nothing wrong with other people being completely right or left-wing. That is one of the wonderful things about this country. However, let’s face it, there are individuals and groups that take things to an extreme, from both sides of the fence. More often than not those people take little if any time to actually research issues. It is easier to simply “think liberal” or “think conservative”.
As I get older I find myself less tolerant of that type of ignorance, but more accepting of a myriad of views from both ends of the spectrum. Today I proudly have several conservative and liberal ideas and make no apologies for this. I am like many individuals I know; when something I hold dear to my heart is threatened in some manner and politics are responsible, I get fired up. When complete ignorance is the root cause I become pissed off.
Therefore, to say I am well past the pissed off stage in regards to the utter BS surrounding Sound Strike is an understatement. Sound Strike is a collection of ignorant musicians that feel the best way to protest the passage of Arizona’s immigration law is to boycott the state.
Now there have been a number of boycotts that have already occurred once Governor Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. Several will have a definite negative economic impact on the state. This infuriates me, but after seeing what happened a couple of decades ago when Arizona initially did not recognize MLK Day as a holiday I was not surprised when these boycotts started.
However, musicians choosing to boycott Arizona over this issue did come as a shock to me. Really, and here is why.
While I may not always believe music and politics is a good mix, the fact remains that artists have used the stage to express their political ideologies for years. Sometimes it works, sometimes it becomes a source of irritation for their fans. However, I can respect a musician’s desire to use the stage as a platform to hammer home their views.
A couple of weeks ago when I saw CAKE in concert at the Marquee Theatre, lead singer and frontman extraordinaire John McCrea did take a moment during the band’s performance to express his displeasure with the law. I wish I could remember the exact comment because what he said was outstanding. More important, he did so in an intelligent manner. I have nothing but respect for what he did and as a result a tremendous amount of respect for McCrea as an individual. Most important, I am grateful to him and the rest of the band for not allowing any negative feelings about Arizona’s stance on illegal immigration to alter their plans to play here. In light of what has been happening as of late, I hope the crowd that was there that night realizes how fortunate we were. Big thanks to CAKE!
On the other end of the spectrum is a dbag like Zack de la Rocha, a useless excuse for an individual that had no problem capitalizing on the huge fan base Rage Against the Machine has in Arizona all the times they played here to huge crowds. I will admit, I have seen them once at Mesa Amphitheatre and they delivered a mind-blowing experience. However, I have always had issues with their politics. Read the lyrics to their songs and you shall understand why. Heck, Tom Morello even had the gall to inscribe “Arm The Homeless” on his guitar.
de la Rocha has managed to convince a number of artists to join the Sound Strike cause and boycott Arizona by refusing to play shows. I am astonished these bands really believe that type of boycott will actually have a negative impact on the state.
Do they really believe the conservative politicians that helped make SB 1070 a law want artists that oppose it coming here to play? Do they believe not playing in Arizona will have a negative economic impact on the entire state?
Unfortunately, what has happened is these artists have hurt the promoters here, the venues, and most of all their fans. If the people had voted SB 1070 into law, then I could logically rationalize their boycott. Since that is not the case, all I feel now is contempt for these artists.
As a huge music fan and a huge supporter of the local scene for years I feel betrayed, particularly by artists I have spent a lot of hard-earned dollars on by buying their albums (I refuse to illegally download music) and going to their concerts. I have seen Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails three times, Throwing Muses twice, Rage Against the Machine and Cypress Hill once. I paid for airfare and a hotel room to see Sonic Youth one of those occasions for a show in Denver in 2009.
I have wanted to see My Morning Jacket for quite a while now and now will not get that opportunity. Yeasayer just played here recently but have now joined Sound Strike. Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s was responsible for convincing the 2010 Lilith Fair to cancel the Phoenix date.
F ALL THESE ARTISTS! It bothers me to say that, but I feel very, very strongly about this. Any artist that has joined Sound Strike has been eliminated from my iPod, and I am considering playing frisbee with the CD’s by them that I own.
Futile I realize, but I also intend to never buy anything from those artists again, nor will I have any desire to waste my money seeing them live. A friend asked me, “What happens if they are playing one of those festivals you go?” I guess I head to one of the other stages then …
My good friend Patrick brought up a great point, and Lindsay from Stinkweeds added to this. Perhaps an artist strongly opposing SB 1070 should require as part of admission the showing of your voter registration card when you enter the venue. Maybe the artists that strongly oppose the law should have tables to register people to vote at their shows. Both are great ideas, and there are many more ways for the artists to constructively voice their stance on the issue.
I will save my energy supporting artists that can look past the absurdity and ignorance of Sound Strike, play in Arizona, regardless of whether they support or are against SB 1070. I will save my energy supporting the state I was born, raised, and continue to live in for 41+ years now.
Big kudos to Kimber Lanning of Stinkweeds Records for helping organize SOS Congress which occurred Sunday, June 27 at the Heard Museum. Hopefully a continued grass-roots effort like this will help make the rest of the country realize Arizona is not a racist state, coerce them into actually reading the transcript of SB 1070 and make an educated decision.
Cheers (except to the bastards of Sound Strike),
Blitzen Trapper chose to not boycott Arizona. Read why!
Please read this letter from Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents regarding the boycotts of bands that refuse to play in Arizona