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Anti-Fascist Punks Throw an Anti-Trump Inauguration Day Concert

Cheap Perfume will play Punk Against Trump.
Cheap Perfume will play Punk Against Trump.
Tom Murphy

Most of the punk scene has long fancied itself anti-fascist. Outside of a few white-supremacist bands and the occasional Klan rally, punks have rarely had large targets to attack — at least not on a national scale. But with Donald Trump’s inauguration, some punks are saying that they finally see an opportunity.

Trump’s candidacy was fueled by anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-immigrant sentiment. He dog-whistled to organized white nationalists in the alt-right. He sullied the press, mocked a disabled reporter, boasted about sexually assaulting women and said that if he stood in Times Square, he could “shoot somebody and not lose voters.”

To the anti-fascist punk left, Trump has become the ultimate target.

For Inauguration Day 2017, the punk act Three Grams has assembled a bill of local bands for a show called Punk Against Trump.

“Trump himself inspired us to set this up,” says Three Grams vocalist and guitarist Brian Burke. “His rhetoric and fear-mongering made it impossible to not do something. Getting together with like-minded individuals to express our discontent about the situation at hand seemed like the most appropriate thing to do. We chose these bands for their strong stance against Trump’s policies. We wanted to make sure that the show had a good, diverse lineup and not just straightforward punk rock.”

Jane No, guitarist and vocalist for Cheap Perfume, described how she was “blown away” when Trump won.

“The day after the election, I climbed into my car to drive to work feeling like I was going into a world that hated me. Maybe that’s dramatic, but it’s how I felt. It has devastated most women and minorities I know, so I’m hoping to turn our fear and disappointment into action.”

Cheap Perfume lead singer Stephanie Byrne says, “I didn’t realize I was surrounded by secret bigots until good ol’ Don was leading the white-supremacy parade and everyone realized that if their possible president-elect was allowed to make such comments about people, they were, too. But from it, I’ve seen communities grow stronger, tighter, and work harder for one another. I’ve seen strangers stick up for marginalized folks, and a greater understanding of common decency established in those who have never had to check their privilege before.”

The trouble with Trump’s election isn’t just his bigotry, says Screwtape bassist Alex Morales. The trouble is that “these thoughts have been well agreed upon by a giant portion of our country.”

Morales describes the election as “a wake-up call, a realization to many that silence is no longer indifference.” As he sees it, silence emboldens “the monster that this country has empowered.”

Each of the bands on the bill will donate proceeds from the show to community groups they say are likely to suffer under the incoming administration: the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Food Not Bombs. Girls Rock Denver will have a table at the event to accept donations.

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“We just hope the show creates a sense of community and shows people who are terrified of a Trump presidency that they aren’t alone,” says No.

Nobody in the bands thinks one show can save the world from Trump, she suggests. But a national demonstration of solidarity on the day Trump takes office — which this concert is a part of — can’t be discounted as mere symbolism. In her opinion, resistance has to start locally, between people, not on some abstract national level. Communities must learn to take care of themselves when it’s clear the government won’t.

“Artists have been using their art to educate and inform people of the wrongs in the world for as long as art has been around,” Burke points out. “We’re maybe going to change someone’s mind or at least start a dialogue between our differences by starting a conversation, even if that conversation is an angry one.”

Punk Against Trump
7 p.m. Friday, January 20, Moon Room at Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street, 303-487-0111, $10, all ages.

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