Local Band Holds Dakota Access Pipeline Benefit Show at Everybody Hits
The election of president-elect Donald Trump has left some residents of the Riverwards feeling uncertain about what the next four years will look like for America. While dissenters of the newly elected Trump have signed petitions, protested and dove headlong into fiery debate sessions on social media, for many, the question remains, “what can I actually do about it?”
Marisa Dabice, lead singer and guitarist of local punk group Mannequin Pussy may have the answer for you: Go to more shows.
Dabice and the rest of her bandmates decided that all ticket sales at their recent homecoming show at Everybody Hits (529 W Girard Ave.) last month would go to a cause threatened by the incoming administration, The Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. While construction on the pipeline has been suspended, Mannequin Pussy decided to focus on directing money directly to the legal defense fund of the water protectors in preparation the upcoming court appearances set for February.
Mannequin Pussy was on tour in support of their recent and critically acclaimed album “Romantic” on election night, a night that Dabice remembers well.
“We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Dabice said. “We didn’t have to watch anything, everyone at the show was obsessively refreshing the results on their phones every few minutes. By the time we were on our way to stay with our friends, the results were in.”
Regardless of the election results, Mannequin Pussy still had a month of touring to do before they returned to Philadelphia. “The immediate days after the election were the strangest to play. It’s usually so easy to drop into the abyss and focus on what you’re playing, but in the first few shows after the election I felt my mind wandering back to the results the most. It was harder to focus,” Dabice said.
As strange as playing shows each night was for everyone in the band, travelling through Oklahoma, to California, and back to Philadelphia again allowed Dabice to interact with a variety of Americans still raw from the results. “For the first time since we’ve been a band, more and more people have wanted to talk to us about politics,” Dabice said. “Asking us about what we’ve experienced throughout the country and more importantly telling us what life is like for them where they live.”
Of those experiences, Dabice was particularly moved by what she heard in Oklahoma. “Their governor Mary Fallin is an aggressively pro-oil politician who receives the more contributions from the oil and gas industry than from anywhere else,” Dabice said. “She’s almost single-handedly responsible for Oklahoma now surpassing California in yearly earthquakes — All due to fracking. She signed a bill into law that prevents any town or city in Oklahoma from banning fracking. She seriously created a day of prayer for the oil industry in Oklahoma. This was everything we learned the morning after and it got us all to thinking that this problem is so much larger than Donald Trump.”
As Dabice and the band met and talked to more people around the country, they realized that their homecoming show at Everybody Hits could also serve as a bit of political activism. For Dabice, the appeal of benefit shows is that they are fundraisers, but simultaneously could educate show-goers who may not be as aware of strife in other parts of the country.
Given that Trump had publicly denied climate change and stated he would “scrap” the EPA, Dabice felt that “shoring up the defenses” by supporting the legal funds of DAPL protesters was a worthy cause. “We have very nearly decimated every resource we have on this Earth and for what? Cheap gas? Billionaires bank accounts?” Dabice said. “We have U.S. governors and senators who are about as pro-oil and pro-capitalism as they come, protecting the interests of shareholders and protecting an oil and gas industry who don’t seem to have a shred of conscience about the havoc they’re wreaking on our planet. We’ve successfully both dumbed down our society by vilifying intellectualism and science and have made it increasingly trendy for our youth to feed into apathy and narcissism.”
The fundraiser and show went as well as it could have for Mannequin Pussy, openers Spirit of the Beehive and Beth Israel, and the defense funds of the DAPL protesters. The show itself sold out and they raised $1,200 to donate. The night was so successful, the band quickly booked another benefit show for February 24th at Johnny Brenda’s to raise money for the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization founded in 1998 focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and other queer youth. On top of that, the band is already in the planning stages for another benefit show in April.
Although anxiety and uncertainty has been a theme of our current political climate, inaction and so-called “arm chair activism” has been the talk of the last several political cycles, especially when referring to the younger, more liberal electorate. While bands like Mannequin Pussy bring people and donations to events like the one at Everybody Hits, Dabice hopes to send a message: Stay focused.
“Please pay attention,” Dabice said, “Remember that being politically aware is not the same as being politically active. If you’ve truly felt fear and pain in the weeks after the election, do everything you can to dissent from the new administration and recognize the communities, activists, and organizations around you that you can support in the years to come. donating to charity, attending benefit shows, engaging in the political system are all simple acts of resistance that anyone can do. it’s easy to feel hopeless but it’s also just as easy to find ways to engage your time, money, and efforts against an administration that seeks to hyper normalize capitalism, racism, and greed.”
If you would like to donate to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense, you can visit their FundRazr page. You can find more information or donate to the Trevor Fund at thetrevorproject.org. •