Obama addresses the crowd at his fundraising concert on Friday. View the photo gallery.
What happens when politicos plan a rock concert?
It gets freaky, in a whoever-planned-this-last-turned-on-the-radio-in-the-1990s sort of way.
Of course, the music was not the point of the Chicago Rocks for Change concert this weekend at the Riviera. The point was raising money for Barack Obama, who came out at the end of the Wilco set, gave frontman Jeff Tweedy a big bear hug, and got the crowd hollering with a rousing speech.
The rest of the show was a parade of has-beens; whoever added Jill Sobule to the lineup needs to update his/her iTunes, stat! Don’t even get me started on Macy Gray. My friends and I made up a new game: Drink Until Macy Sounds Good. Even after some beers, she didn’t.
All together, it wasn’t a poorly spent $50. Locals the Cool Kids (hip-hop) and the Changes (jangly pop) sounded great; too bad both acts played before most of the crowd arrived. And while only Jeff Tweedy had been promised, most of Wilco showed up and rocked some Woody Guthrie covers.
Then there was the presidential candidate: polished in a sharp navy suit, encouraged by the whoops and hollers of a supportive rock ‘n’ roll crowd, and clearly on the offensive against Hillary Clinton. He only said her name once, in a dig related to her campaign’s decision to analyze one of his kindergarten essays. (Unlike what Sen. Clinton’s campaigned had stated, Obama said, “I am not running to fulfill some long-held fantasies from kindergarten. In kindergarten, I couldn’t write essays about being president. I could write the word ‘mom.’ But not the word ‘president,’” he said, and the crowd laughed.). But he clearly had Clinton in mind when he railed on candidates whose positions have been determined by polling and voter appeasement. “I want to be part of a party that stands for something. I’m not only focused on how we should win, but why we should.”
My favorite quote of his from the night: “When they do those genealogy things, you hope you’re going to find out you’re related to Martin Luther King or Alexander the Great. But Cheney!?!”
PhotoGRAPHy: Esther Kang