Ahead of the midterm general elections, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Grand Rapids Community College’s Music Department held a concert on Thursday to encourage students to head to the polls and participate in the election.
The Rock the Vote concert, organized by GRCC student Ben Traverse who also performed during the concert, featured fellow music student Kaitlyn Zittel and was headlined by The Crane Wives.
The show was sponsored by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and GRCC’s Music Department. The show focused on the midterm elections and its organizers and performers encouraged students and registered voters to participate in deciding Michigan’s new government officials. But the show wasn’t only about the upcoming elections. The three acts put on a show for their audience and hoped they enjoyed their night of music.
“I think everyone had a good time, hopefully,” said Ben Zito, The Crane Wives’ bassist. “I was really happy to see so many people registered to vote and maybe excited to do so if they haven’t already.”
The Crane Wives Drummer Dan Rickabus echoed his bandmate’s hopes and added his wishes for the registered voters in attendance to get to the polls on Tuesday.
“We are really excited to be here,” Rickabus said. “I think the college vote is one of the most important votes (and we’re) just excited to be in an environment where people are actively learning and engaged. (We’re) just wanting everyone to make this a healthy democracy. It was really shocking to see after the 2016 election it was something like 29 percent of registered voters didn’t vote and it just seems silly.”
Rickabus recognizes that voting isn’t the only factor in effecting change in our nation but it is a step in the right direction.
“Obviously, voting isn’t the end-all-be-all,” he said. “It’s not going to create a revolution, but it is going to help us create a condition in which to organize in that is not oppressive. So if we can vote in people who are at least closer to our values, then we can – until then – work our butts off to make more change happen and get more young people running for office.”
Traverse, 20, and Zittel, 20, opened the show with some original music. Zittel, who is wrapping up her education at GRCC, was happy to perform for a crowd at GRCC and to spread the word about voting.
“I’ve been performing since I was 15,” Zittel said. “I perform a lot in Michigan and did a West Coast tour this summer, so any chance I can perform I like to perform… Also, just encouraging people that don’t like to vote (to vote) just because it’s an amazing privilege that we have.”
Zittel also shared that she has seen first-hand what it looks like for people in other countries who don’t have the right to vote. She has traveled to India, Guatemala, France and Canada among other places and hopes to travel more with her music in her time after GRCC.