BY CELIA ALMEIDA
Few know “Election Fatigue” quite like the Florida voter, and for those gathered at the pre-debate Rock the Vote concert at Mizner Park Ampitheatre in Boca Raton on MondaY night, October 22nd, live music was the only antidote.
The fall breeze in South Florida kept tempers cool as supporters from both parties came together for some live entertainment from the band Neon Trees. The event was live streamed and sponsored by XBOX Live and featured a Twitter Q&A with the band prior to their nine-song set.
The event featured brief speeches by the mayor of Boca Raton, Susan Whelchel, as well as Rock the Vote President Heather Smith, who celebrated the organization’s registration of their one millionth young voter earlier that day.
Prior to entering the amphitheatre, attendees were greeted by groups of volunteers from several social and political interest groups as well as Rock the Vote volunteers who asked attendees to sign pledges vowing that they would go out and vote on Election Day.
Andrew Mon, 17, was one such volunteer. Though he will not be of age and eligible to vote in the 2012 election and claims that he has not decided which candidate he favors, he became interested in politics just this past year and decided that he could be of some influence by asking anyone who is eligible to cast their vote.
He was one of a striking number of young people and children who came out with their families for the night’s festivities.
Cathy Carro of Delrey Beach attended with her thirteen-year-old daughter Kimberly Carro, who is a self-proclaimed “huge” Neon Trees fan. Cathy took her daughter to the event to enjoy the concert as a family, but she also hoped to teach her daughter about her civic duty in the process.
For those younger, more impressionable minds in the crowd – those who have not yet become jaded or disillusioned by the election process – Neon Trees did in fact convey a compelling and poignant message about young people’s role in this and future elections.
Introducing their hit single “Everybody Talks”, lead singer Tyler Glenn spoke to those kids listening in the crowd. “I was one of those teenage kids who was a punk and felt politics didn’t matter.” Now in his late twenties, he is using his band’s recognition to encourage young people to become politically minded and involved. And it doesnt all have to be so serious. “I would hope that people set aside their differences to enjoy a good rock show.”
That’s exactly what Neon Trees gave the Mizner Park crowd. Glenn, accompanied by guitarist Christopher Allen, bassist Branden Campbell, and singer/drummer Elaine Bradley delivered a high energy set complete with a drum solo featuring band members in Obama and Romney masks.
The set featured songs from their debut album Habits and their latest, Picture Show. The band’s videos and visual style often nod to the flamboyance and technicolor of the Eighties, and it appears from Tyler Glenn’s Freddie Mercury stances and poses that the band has picked up the onstage theatricality of some of the greats of the era as well.
Those expecting the overwhelmingly young crowd to tune out the political messages at the event would have been surprised to find that most people, eligible voters and not, stayed not only to watch the debate, but also listened intently to Neon Trees’ message of political involvement.
Glenn’s message to those young people who might feel as he felt when he was a teenage self-proclaimed “punk” was simple.
“You have a voice, even if you don’t have a mic.”
Neon Trees are already pros at engaging an audience to interact and participate at their live shows. Here’s hoping that same influence translates to the ballot box on November 6th.