Occupy Wall Street Anniversary Concert Featuring Tom Morello, Jello Biafra, Lee Ranaldo and More – Review & Photos
Occupy Wall Street Movement 1 Year Anniversary Concert
Featuring: Tom Morello, Jello Biafra, Lee Ranaldo, Chad Stokes, Michelle Shocked, Rebel Diaz + more
September 16, 2012
Foley Square- NYC, NY
Words + Photos: Antonio Marino Jr.
It’s been a year since a handful of protesters started the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. What started out as a curious demonstration that harkened back to the 60’s “sit-in’s” snowballed into a global movement that took on the “We Are the 99%” slogan – arguing that the wealthiest 1% of Americans have used their wealth to buy political influence thus leaving 99% of the population without a voice.
Not surprisingly, one of the movement’s earliest proponents was Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave/Street Sweeper Social Club/The Nightwatchman guitarist Tom Morello. Never shy about expressing his political beliefs Morello took the celebrity lead in broadcasting the “Occupy” message, so for the first anniversary of the movement, www.s17nyc.org held a concert in the heart of New York City’s Financial District and headlining the event was none other than Tom Morello.
The five hour event moved along quickly and without incident..and considering the often highly charged atmosphere of political protests, the event refreshingly stayed peaceful and upbeat. The perfect late-summer weather helped keep tempers calm and the events M.C. (and legendary punk rock singer) Jello Biafra managed to keep the movement’s message on point but supplied enough humor to maintain a concert vibe without drowning in the dire OWS message. Comedian Lee Camp also provided a set that was on-mission and hilarious, and also provided a few instances of “I wish he hadn’t said that” from those that brought their kids.
The musical spectrum was well represented and well received, there was something for everyone. From punk legends Biafra and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo to newer acts like Chad Stokes of Dispatch. And no rally would be complete without folk singers and Michelle Shocked, no stranger to political rallies (see the cover of her Short Sharp Shocked album) filled the role perfectly. Closing with “Fog Town” her gritty ode to San Francisco, Biafra came onstage to thank Shocked, the two briefly reminisced about her days squatting in Fog Town and befriending Biafra and all the other acts that made the city their home. It was a quick exchange amongst friends that provided an insight into this collection of artist who seemingly are all interconnected through music and various movements. Tom Chapin, whose brother Harry worked tirelessly in support of feeding America’s poor not only was present, with banjo in hand, but he was joined onstage by his daughters, Abigail and Lily.
Rebel Diaz provided an energized hip-hop set that led perfectly into Tom Morello’s set that included everything from his heavy metal blasting riff’s to songs from his acoustic repertoire, capped off with him inviting the crowd up to the stage. It didn’t seem to be what organizers had in mind but the crowd wasn’t about to ask permission. Sensing that he may have bitten off more than he could chew, Morello implored his new stagemates to not dance or hop in unison – within seconds of his invitation the crowd had covered every square inch of the stage. Morello continued with his set and miraculously the stage stayed intact and it served as the perfect conclusion to a loud, joyous and peaceful gathering of a movement that is looking to reignite it’s year old mission.