Rock against DAPL

(Contingent and Savageheads were two of the punk bands featured at “Rock for NoDAPL.” Photo by Amanda Martin)

Farm Aid fought to keep the American small farmer solvent in the ’80s, “We Shall Overcome” was an anthem for African Americans of the Civil Rights-era, and Bruce Springsteen played on top of the Berlin Wall.

Senior and president of the Green Team Paolo Bon Tempo used the draw of live music to organize a punk show to raise money for the Standing Rock Sioux of the Dakotas, who are protesting to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their reservation.

About 100 people were in attendance to see Bombers, Contingent, Savageheads and Dame play at the McCarthy Center Forum on the evening of Nov. 18, a turnout that was “better than expected,” said Bon Tempo.

He said $1,021 was raised, and several people paid more than the suggested donation of $5.

Punk music has long been a venue for political commentary at all levels, from The Clash’s iconic 1979 record “London Calling,” which was critical of the state of the British economy, to food drives at Cambridge’s punk venue The Hardcore Stadium today.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been fighting against the construction of the DAPL, which they feel presents an unacceptably high risk of contaminating their water supplies. They made their appeals under the principles of environmentalism and anti-colonialism.

“For punks, this might not be totally connected, but this is the only thing we know how to do,” said Bon Tempo, who has organized other events for environmental causes.

Bon Tempo described the show as “a stereotypical punk time.”

The majority of the crowd were not FSU students, with some traveling from as far as Boston to see their favorite bands play, while others simply wanted to give money to a cause they supported. Bon Tempo said he was “extremely grateful that they came out.”

On the intersection of human rights and environmentalism, Bon Tempo said, “It applies to everybody. As humans, we all suffer from climate change – some more than others.”

There was a venue change from the Heineman Ecumenical Center to the Forum, and bands started playing more than an hour after the posted time.

Bombers opened and warmed up the crowd with choppy, fast songs typical of the Boston hardcore punk sound. Soon after, Contingent followed, and the crowd had grown large enough to incite a mosh pit. 

Kevin Annand, vocalist for Contingent, agreed to play the show to support “fans in Framingham. … We’ve got some local Framingham punks.” He expressed dismay at the standoff in North Dakota, stating “history has given me a reason to be pessimistic. … It’s not the first time [European Americans] have stepped on indigenous people’s land.”

Boston’s Savageheads played their distorted, cathartic punk next.  Drummer Mike Conn said he was sympathetic to the land rights of the tribe, saying they “have the rights to it and deserve it.”

Dame, an all-female band that also hails from Boston, played last.  Drummer Diana Damewood said she “respects and admires commitment to environmental causes.”  She also was concerned about the rights of the self-titled Indigenous Water Protectors.

She said, “Once again, colonialism. It’s not over.”