Punk Against Trump 2019
Three years of activist punk
In the wake of the 2018-19 government shutdown and only a few hours after the Women’s March, the Moon Room at the Summit hosted the third annual Punk Against Trump benefit concert with an impressive lineup of hard-hitting local acts. All proceeds went to the Gathering Place. Punk Against Trump was a passionately political musical romp.
Contributing to this passion was an audience that brought along a regiment of circle-pit moshers; a handful of inflatable Trump balloons; and Anti-Trump slogans plastered on shirts, posters, and bodies.
The most technical and heaviest of the evening’s performers, No Takers, was first on the bill. Characterized by immense riffs and thrashing time changes, the group rode the line between sludge metal and hardcore punk. They served as an excellent introduction vocally as well, dishing out charged lyrics, renouncing the current political administration that also channeled the wild emotions associated with such subject matter. Later acts, like Over Time and All-Out Helter, followed suit but couldn’t compare to the heaviness of No Takers. It was loud, fast, complex, and perfectly emblematized the spirit of the whole event.
Another standout group, Sorry Sweetheart, immediately followed No Takers. By far the most ambitious of all the performing acts, Sorry Sweetheart utilized a wide variety of genres in tandem with an energetic live show with musical sections ranging from ska to metalcore and back to emo/pop-punk—all within the same song. The ensemble’s genre melding kept audience members on their toes. The group even included a trombonist, adding a compelling layer of instrumentation, especially when a particularly heavy bridge section with screaming also contained a sprightly trombone solo.
At times, this array of stylings was convoluted with each instrument seemingly pulling the song in its own musical direction or a verse and chorus that chaotically made the genre jump every few bars. Still, Sorry Sweetheart brought an exciting vitality that captured the punk rock energy and disposition.
The band that best employed the ethos of Punk Against Trump, however, was the first headlining act, Cheap Perfume. For Cheap Perfume, the Anti-Trump sentiment fueled every aspect of the music from the two-chord guitar riffage to the riot grrrl style vocal delivery and sentiment. With crowd interaction, group vocals, and lots of cursing and stage energy, the performance really was textbook classic punk, melded with modern themes opposing the current administration. However, their set unfortunately grew stale. The songs themselves weren’t particularly memorable aside from the actual performances themselves. Cheap Perfume deserves to be commended, however, on their absolute commitment to their particular musical styling and for their strong female vocals. Overall, it was an enjoyable and motivating performance.
In the end, Punk Against Trump 2019 did falter somewhat with certain acts. However, the message was clear and loud, and the performances overall did justice to that message and delivered a raucous evening of engaging and varied punk rock acts.