Celebrities don’t always speak out on political issues. Some people would even go so far to say actors and media personalities and musicians shouldn’t jump in the mix on political issues. But when self-expression is your craft, why wouldn’t you speak out about the issues you believe in?
Washington, D.C. music venue The Anthem will be hosting “Stay Amped: A Concert to End Gun Violence” on Friday, March 23. Emo veterans Fall Out Boy will be headlining the event, with performances by rappers Lizzo and G-Eazy. Rising pop star Bebe Rexha, and indie rockers Declan Mckenna and Alex G are also performing.
This comes ahead of the highly anticipated March for Our Lives on Saturday. The rally is in solidarity with and was organized by students from the 17 killed and three wounded in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting on February 14.
Along with the main march in the heart of our nation’s capital, there are sister marches in all the major U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland. More than 800 marches will be taking place this weekend in Africa, South America, Europe and Asia as well.
“This time, everybody that I know had such a deep and visceral reaction to Parkland,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, the communications director for I.M.P. “Not just the devastation of those 17 lives lost that day, but the understanding that we keep seeing this over and over and over again. We’ve got to do something to make that stop.”
The move to organize a benefit concert was spearheaded by Donna Westmoreland, the Chief Operating Officer for I.M.P. The concert production company runs a number of D.C.-area venues, including The Anthem. Westmoreland teamed up with Liana Huth, who is the vice president of programming innovation at broadcasting company Entercom. Huth used to work at the 9:30 Club, which is run by I.M.P.
Both Westmoreland and Huth have high-school-aged children, and were deeply affected by the Parkland shooting. They had also organized a benefit together before: in 2017, the 9:30 Club was home to the Women’s March Official After Party.
Raising money for Planned Parenthood, the event featured performances from feminist icons like Sleater Kinney and Ani DiFranco, everyone’s soft-pop fave Sara Bareilles and comedian Tig Notaro. Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Al Franken also made an appearance.
Huth and Westmoreland led the outreach to anti-gun advocacy groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords. They also reached out to Crush Management to bring in Fall Out Boy, who were “‘in’ in an instant,” said Schaefer.
Since day one, the Parkland, FL-high schoolers have been on the frontlines of this anti-gun violence wave. Quite memorably, Marjory Stoneman Douglas student and Cuban bicon Emma González called out President Donald Trump’s “B.S.” at a rally a few days after the shooting.
Schaefer spoke to how necessary and refreshing she found Generation Z’s passion when it comes to preventing gun violence.
“I’m an adult who has adult kids now — they’re in their 20s. To see middle schoolers and high schoolers care a lot and take a stand, that is just the most inspiring thing. Without young people,” Schaefer said. “We’ve got nothing.”
The tickets range from $50 to $175, and half-price tickets are available with a valid student ID. Sales are limited to two tickets per student. Every Super Excellent Seat purchase will earn a complimentary ticket for student activists, to be distributed by MFOL organizers.
Ticket proceeds will go to Everytown’s action fund. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, Everytown was born from two advocacy groups: Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action. Everytown’s four key issues are background checks, domestic violence, preventable deaths and gun trafficking.
Ticket profits will also go to Giffords, which also was the result of Sandy Hook in 2012. The organization was founded by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in 2011 while meeting with constituents in Tucson, AZ.
Six people were killed and 13 were wounded in the incident. At Sandy Hook, 26 people were killed. Americans for Responsible Solutions linked up with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Giffords was formed in 2016.
In an Anthem press release, Lizzo thanked Everytown and Giffords, saying, “I’ve been an avid follower and supporter of Everytown since the Orlando nightclub tragedy. The fight for human rights is a no-brainer, and when our youth are threatened, we must do everything in our power to protect them.”
Judging from the line-up alone, “Stay Amped” looks like it’s going to be lit — if you’re going to to turn up, turn up for a good cause — and absolutely the place to be before Saturday’s march. Be that as it may, Schaefer emphasized the impact of small, activist gestures.
“You might not be able to throw a concert, but you might be able to donate a little money. Or you might able to talk to someone you think is going through a tough time,” Schaefer said. “Or you can write your legislators. There are so many different things that people can do.”
Those things also include voting.
Schaefer explained that concert-goers will be able to register to vote at “Stay Amped” as well.