Local grassroots organization held concert to support Bernie Sanders

Though the crowd was small at the beginning of the event, it gradually grew as the evening went on.

Last week, with just days remaining before the New York Primary on April 19, Bernie Sanders supporters took the stage for their favorite Democratic candidate. In an event that grew as the hours went on, both local and national up-and-coming acts played in a “Fuel the Bern” concert at Palace Theater organized by Syracuse for Sanders. This was the second edition of the concert series; a similar event was held over the winter when people in Central New York began the initial stages of mobilizing for Senator Sanders. All proceeds from the event went directly to the Sanders campaign at an admission of twenty dollars.

Though the crowd was small at the 5 p.m. start, the near 1,000-seat theater gradually filled by 8 p.m. About 20 different acts performed at the event, which ended at midnight.

Bae, a singer who performed early in the evening, described why she plays at these kinds of Sanders events.

“I didn’t even realize until I attended his rally earlier this week how much he stands for what I believe in,” Bae said. “I want my child to be able to attend school and not have debt for the first twenty years of his working career, and I want us to be able to have medical care without having to worry where it is going to come from.”

Her sentiments were echoed by not only the performers, but also the several volunteers who organized and attended the event. Greg Wilkinson is an independent voter and volunteer for Sanders. Although he cannot actually participate in New York’s closed primary because he is not registered with a party, he feels he can still impact the general election with his efforts for Sanders during primary season.

“This event is meant to charge up the volunteers and get them out there for the final charge of canvasing,” Wilkinson said. “My gut feeling is that we have been successful and it is a done deal here in New York.”

The night featured a variety of music and art, including a large canvas painting that was created with performers playing their sets on stage. Groups such as Castle Creek and Seth Faergolzia & 23 Psaegz played cover songs and unveiled some original tracks based on the Sanders movement. As the crowds continued to grow in numbers, they were greeted by an immense stage backdrop featuring renderings of Sanders and Clinton staring at each other with the words: “The Battle of New York: The People vs. The Establishment, Vote.”

Joe Driscoll is the head of Syracuse for Sanders. “I hope to get people actually out for votes,” Driscoll said. “It’s not only about money - money is great - but I hope to get the spirit and get people excited about the campaign.”

Though few people came for the beginning of the event, there were some there. And they were not all millenials, as most Sanders supporters are presumed to be. Pat Fagan, 70, of East Syracuse, said he thought it was once in a generation opportunity to support Sanders. Having marched for Sanders in downtown and planning to do door-to-door canvass on the Saturday before the election, Fagan said, “It’s time for revolution and it’s time for change.” 

Lauren Livingston, a Syracuse delegate for Sanders, said nothing is certain yet in the primaries. She compared Sanders’ delegate numbers with the Obama Campaign in 2008 and thinks superdelagates will switch their support to Sanders by the end of the election. 

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