Punk the vote

News Hits dusted off our black spiked dog collar and headed out to the Pontiac Silverdome last Sunday for the Detroit stop of the 10th annual Warped Tour. A nationwide tour featuring dozens of punk bands and a handful of extreme sports demos, this daylong gala is normally a magnet for the masses of disaffected, politically ignorant suburban youth bedecked in all their Hot Topic glory.

However, News Hits was shocked — shocked, we tell you! — to discover a virtual tidal wave of anti-Bush sentiment flowing among the hot pink Mohawk spikes and churning mosh pits. We vaguely recall some sort of tepid “Go vote” messages half-heartedly tossed out at Warped ’00 — but this year, a clearly partisan message rang out: punk against Shrub!

Packs of pierced music fans were sporting black T-shirts emblazoned with the Dub’s mug and the phrase “Not My President.”

Musician Tim Hervey, who performed on the local stage with his band the Bomb Pops, said he was taken aback by the sheer multitude of anti-Bush shirts.

“I saw more of them than I’d ever seen in one place at one time,” says Hervey. “One thing that was pretty amazing was how young all these kids were. I saw a lot of kids that weren’t even old enough to vote yet wearing them.”

Hervey said he detected a small anti-Bush presence at last year’s Warped, “but this year it was over the top.”

News Hits was amused to note the shrieking, screeching, mouth-frothing lead singer of Anti-Flag is in agreement with our own Jack Lessenberry; both have now proclaimed the Shrub the worst president in history.

It was no surprise when politically themed punk dinosaurs Bad Religion and (International) Noise Conspiracy spoke out against the prez, but we were shocked — shocked we tell you! — when even watered-down, mainstream bubblegum punk bands like Yellowcard desperately pleaded with the young crowd to register to vote and get you-know-who the hell out of office.

And indeed, patrons could register right on the spot, at a booth manned by punkvoter.com, an anti-Bush site using punk music to reach out to youth voters. In addition to registering on site, kids could also purchase the aforementioned T-shirts, along with Rock Against Bush Vol. 2, a compilation featuring several of the big-name bands performing at Warped.

Scott Goodstein, director of punkvoter.com, says the booth has been registering an average of 200 to 300 kids a day during the course of the tour. But the Silverdome crowd topped the charts, says Goodstein, who reports that more than 500 voters were registered at Sunday’s event, the highest number on the tour.

Does Goodstein think either presidential candidate is adequately addressing the youth contingent during this campaign?

“No, they’ve done a shitty job,” he says, adding that punkvoter.com “went out to Iowa for the Democratic primary, to let them know it’s a two-way street. They need to start paying attention to the youth vote.”

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]

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