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Culture Shock

I Thought The Strokes Were a NYC Band?

On Friday, March 8th, 2024, I was able to attend the Strokes, NNAMDÏ, Beach Bunny, and Uwade concert for the Chicagoan congressional candidate Kina Collins on behalf of WIUX. The concert was half a birthday celebration for Collins, and half a political rally to encourage voter registration and explain Collin’s policies to the public. Local organizations and community leaders were MCs throughout the concert to introduce acts, encourage voter registration, and voice their support on behalf of their various wards of Chicago.

The concert was held in Credit Union 1 Arena, very close to the University of Illinois Chicago campus. A late addition, singer-songwriter Uwade opened the concert with her song, “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow.”  Uwade performed 3 songs in the rest of the set, with “Do You See the Light Around Me?”, a brand new unreleased song, and ending with a cover of the Strokes song “One Way Trigger.” Uwade, in a performance prior to the festival, posted the cover and got the attention of the Strokes, leading to the addition. 

Introduced by Ugo Okere and Erin Vogel, two community organizers, NNAMDÏ had an explosive set that was very distinct from his recorded music and brought the energy to pump up the crowd for the rest of the night. A UIC alum, NNAMDÏ connected with the crowd and had a fantastic performance of “Dedication.” After NNAMDÏ, more community officials and organizers introduced Beach Bunny. Beach Bunny kept the energy with the crowd, playing a fantastic lineup of songs, including hits like “Sports” and “Cloud 9.”  After Beach Bunny’s set it became very clear that this was a political concert and that the candidate, Kina Collins, was a more progressive voice than what was typical for a Democratic candidate. 

By coincidence, the concert happened to fall on Collin’s birthday and after being presented with a cake, the Strokes began. They played for well over an hour and a half and stopped often to talk about Collins, her campaign, or their thoughts on the news. Julian Casablancas, the frontman of the Strokes, agreed heavily with the campaign and voiced concerns about the direction of both the Democratic party as well as politics in general. Aside from commentary, the Strokes played a funny and entertaining set that included hits like “Someday” and “Last Nite.” The band did several fakeout endings to the concert to talk more about the campaign and their support for it, as well as play songs like “New York City Cops” and “Call it Fate, Call it Karma.”

Aside from the fantastic music and show put on by all the bands, this concert was for the benefit of the Kina Collins campaign for the IL-07 congressional district for the House of Representatives seat. Collins, a democratic candidate, focused on progressive change and more towards the interests of regular Chicagoans. Collins is running on a platform focused on stopping gun violence, securing reproductive rights, making rents more affordable, stopping politicians from pocketing corporate PAC dollars, ending foreign aid to countries who use it aggressively, and helping alleviate student loan debt. From what I could tell from asking young people and students at the concert, Collins has a positive reputation within Chicago and has the ear of many people who wish to see their lives changed for the better by these progressive policies and ideas. The musicians themselves supported the campaign as well, Julian Casablancas in particular had only compliments to Collins. During the concert, Casablancas likened Collins to Bernie Sanders and announced that he would be personally volunteering with the campaign and canvassing the district to encourage voting and registration. I wanted to ask former Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot about their opinion of the campaign, but unfortunately, Lightfoot was not seen at the concert and could not be reached for comment.

An enormous thank you to the Indiana University Arts & Humanities Council and Sacks&Co. for making this trip possible for WIUX. In particular, a great thank you to Ed Dallis-Comentale, Adrian Starnes, and Jana Surigao for their help and care.

*All views and political opinions expressed within this article are the authors own*


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