Innerspace is one of several bands participating in Bernstock 2020.EXPAND
Innerspace is one of several bands participating in Bernstock 2020.
Shannon Schumaker

Bernstock: Denver Musicians Reboot a Bernie Sanders Music Fest

A group of Front Range bands hosted a concert in 2016 to raise money for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. They dubbed it Bernstock.

Sanders didn’t go on to win the Democratic nomination that year, but he’s back and running again in 2020. It seemed like a good reason to bring back Bernstock, which organizers hope will add to Sanders’s momentum and help him win big in the 2020 presidential primary.

“We decided to do Bernstock 2020 on a larger scale and break it down into two different shows,” says event co-organizer Weston Roberts, of the Denver band innerspace. “The Black Sheep will be hosting one event, and Seventh Circle will be hosting the other. We are doing these events to raise money for the Bernie 2020 campaign.”

The 2020 presidential primary happens in Colorado on March 3, when thirteen other states are also holding contests. In Colorado, ballots will be mailed out beginning February 10. It will be the state's first presidential primary in many years after voters passed Proposition 107 in the 2016 election. Colorado previously used the caucus system.

The first Bernstock show, at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, happens February 7 and includes False Report, innerspace, Why They Fight, Sleep Academy, Castele, Keep Me Speechless, Gloomy, Mnmlst and Had I Known. A second show is scheduled at Denver's Seventh Circle Music Collective on February 22 and includes False Report, innerspace, Castele, Lungburn, Rotten Reputation, and Wall of the Fallen.

“All of our bands are, broadly speaking, different variations of rock music,” Roberts says. “There is a variety within the mix, from punk to post-rock.”

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Roberts says that information will be available for attendees to help them learn about the 2020 Colorado Primary process, including details on how and when to vote.

“We have some volunteers from the campaign who will be helping us spread literature, look up voter registrations and answer questions,” he says. “I'm hoping to inform more people about the caucus process for selecting the nominee for Senate as well, because less people are aware of it.”

Roberts says that Sanders has a “certain authenticity about him” that he finds appealing, and the candidate seems incapable of sentimentality, which he considers a good thing. He believes Sanders is a candidate who can tackle climate change, health care, mass incarceration, student debt and the “greed of corporate oligarchy.”

“He's always looking forward,” Roberts says. “He doesn't suck up to people, and he properly channels a righteous anger toward injustice. Americans want a politician they can trust, who isn't beholden to wealthy donors, and Bernie is the candidate with the integrity, consistency and, perhaps most important, the receipts to earn that trust.”

He says that anyone who comes to the shows can expect to see a community of local artists, many of whom have been friends for years. Many attendees, based on the last Bernstock, might not even know any of the bands but come out because they are excited about the Sanders campaign.

“I believe that artists as a collective have historically wanted to see some sort of change in the world, and there are some powerful people out there who want to ensure that change doesn't happen,” Roberts says. “Artists have known and understood that the only way to bring about real change is to bring people together, which is why we do things like write music.”

The first Bernstock 2020 show is at the Black Sheep, 2106 South Platte Street in Colorado Springs, at 7 p.m. Friday, February 7. Tickets are $10 and available at blacksheeprocks.com. The second show is at 5 p.m. Saturday, February 22, at Seventh Circle Music Collective, 2935 West Seventh Avenue in Denver. There is an $8 suggested donation.

Primary 2020 information is available at denvergov.org.

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