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Students “feel the Bern” at house show

Victoria Park ’21 performs at 1008 High Street. Photo by Paul Hill.


Victoria Park ’21 performs at 1008 High Street. Photo by Paul Hill.

By Emma Schaefer

On Monday night, the outside temperature in Grinnell dipped below zero, but inside 1008 High St., the music of three Grinnell bands were warming hearts as people felt “the Bern.” The Freesound house show, organized by Ian Donaldson ’20 and Victoria Park ’21, drew a sizable crowd. 

Student band Sorry We’re Late took the stage first, drawing in the crowd with their funk-rock vibe and jazzy melodies. They got the audience dancing, and there was no doubt that the bar was being set high for the rest of the evening. Lead singer Saketan Anand ’21 announced that the band was releasing a music video that night for their song, “Find My Own Way,” which can be found on the Sorry We’re Late YouTube channel. The real question, were they late to perform? The show was scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. and they didn’t begin playing until 8:41 p.m., so I think it’s fair to say they lived up to their name. 

Then people started chanting “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!” At any other concert this might have seemed out of place, but not at this one. “Iowa for Bernie” signs were hung all around the house and student canvassers dressed in Bernie T-shirts could be seen making their rounds signing people up to caucus and canvas in the community. As the Iowa caucus draws nearer, Grinnellians took the opportunity to bring people together through music to invigorate their political activism. 

“I’m going to get straight to it, we’re two weeks away from the Iowa caucus. The Iowa caucus determines what happens in the next election, so this is a huge deal,” said Mariyah Jahangiri ’20, taking the stage to share a few words on why Bernie is her top candidate. She made it clear that every person in the room could affect the outcome of the Iowa caucus and that participating in it is a major opportunity to make an impact in the upcoming election.

Ian Donaldson ’20, who organized the event and played keys in two of the bands during it, said of Bernie, “He has a way of invigorating people who have felt disenchanted with electoral politics. For example he is the only person that will fully cancel college debt, and that’s one reason so many college students are excited about him.” It was clear that many Grinnell students are excited about rallying together to get Bernie into office.

Grinnell band Write-In Candidate continued the sentiment of everyone contributing by playing songs that got the audience singing along. They had people rocking out to covers of hits such as CeeLo Green’s “Fuck You” and Paolo Nutini’s “Iron Sky.” They incorporated a horn section into many of their songs and, with Shanna Kang ’21 and Elena Copell’s ’21 vocals, it became a mesmerizing Alicia-Keys-meets-professional-marching-band set.

Capping off the night was Victoria Park ’21, who performs as Pictoria Vark, as she graced the stage with her incredibly impressive bass skills, dreamy voice and delightful spirit. Park was abroad in Paris in the fall and this spring Grinnell will be without her again. She’ll be playing bass on tour with Grinnell grad Ella Williams ’19’s band Squirrel Flower. Reflecting on being back on campus for the concert, she said, “It felt really great to be back in Grinnell. I definitely missed everyone, especially the music community.” Although Park will be playing music across the country for the next few months, you can listen to her on streaming services under Pictoria Vark and follow her on her Instagram under the same name. 

The house show proved that Grinnellians combining music and politics is an empowering way to inspire people to take political action, in hopes that the momentum can continue during the Iowa caucus on Feb. 3 and throughout the next year.

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