by Tom Simpson for OLY ARTS
In early June, the Capitol Theater in Olympia will see notable Pacific Northwest bands join forces in a benefit concern entitled “Rock against Trump.” According to organizers, the concert is intended to promote community unity. Funds raised will benefit the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes advocacy and legal services for immigrants.
Bands featured will include indie rock-stars Forty Feet Tall from Portland Oregon, Girl Trouble out of Tacoma, along with COSMOS, the 2016 winner of Seattle’s SoundOff! Battle of the Bands, and the band Littlespirits from Seattle.
“Olympia has this incredible D.I.Y. history of young people collectively using music to share a message and inspire change,” organizer Spencer Rex explained. “That’s what I want Rock Against Trump to do.”
The concert will also be an opportunity to encourage young people to register to vote and learn more about the issues facing immigrants during the current political climate.
“I’m motivated by the power of music to bring people together,” said Rex. “The mantra of the concert is ‘Loud music, loud message, peaceful actions.’ My grandmother was an immigrant, so this issue hits close to home for me.”
Bands participating in the benefit concert have a history of speaking up for independent voices and civil rights. Girl Trouble is well known for being the “first band to quit Sub Pop,” and has a 30 year history of pushing for independent voices to be heard without compromise.
COSMOS, winner of Seattle’s SoundOff! Battle of the Bands in 2016, has become a breakout hip-hop success in the region. The political vibe of the group aligns perfectly with the goals of Rock Against Trump as well. COSMOS regularly proclaims their support for minority rights and free expression. “They don’t like what I do, they don’t like what I see, they don’t like what I write, they don’t like that I’m free!” shouted lead singer Teron Bell at their winning EMP concert in the Battle of the Bands.
Forty Feet Tall”s music has been featured on various television and film productions, including Showtime’s “Shameless.” Recently, they’ve been in the news for boycotting venues that employ sexual harassers. The band publicly posted: “Let’s run this guy outta there and hold him accountable,” which is a sentiment that may well apply to the Rock Against Trump concert as well.
Rex and other local Olympia organizers are high school students. Concert seed money was first raised from friends and family, but the pool of supporters rapidly expanded. The Rock Against Trump concert will launch with active support from a variety of local businesses and nonprofits, including Olympia Film Society, KAOS Radio, Traditions Café and Dumpster Values.
The idea for a benefit concert originated for Rex in a summer seminar at the New York Times in 2017, where Rex studied the intersection of pop music and business. His summer seminar project was to plan a music festival. The concept of Rock Against Trump grew from there.
Rock against Trump Benefit Concert
WHERE: Capitol Theater
WHEN: June 2, 6-10 pm
$15 (students / OFS members) $20 (general admission)
Rock Against Trump Event Page