Today, November 8th, 2017, marks one year since the United States electorate chose Donald Trump as their 45th President–one year since one of the most collectively shocking evenings in American history. With Hilary Clinton overwhelmingly favored to win, HeadCount had organized a very special election results viewing party at Brooklyn Bowl billed as “Soundtrack to History”. But while most presumed that 11/8/16 would be “historic” as the day we elected our first woman President, it wound up being historic for significantly more worrisome reasons: It was the day we elected the supposedly “un-electable” President Trump.
Listening back now, the music that served as the “Soundtrack To History” was incredible…but the fact that it was being performed in front of a screen displaying historically shocking news made it hard to swallow in real time. Like many others, I spent the majority of this show sitting in a corner watching the results roll in on TV, essentially ignoring the concert going on behind me. It made for one of the most bizarre, disorienting concert experiences of my life: my heart told me to enjoy the music, but my brain argued that there were more important things at stake. You could feel everyone in the room going through that internal struggle, however you may have felt about the results themselves.
In the end, the “Soundtrack To History” made good on its promise. While it may not be a day that we remember fondly, it is surely a day that nobody will ever forget.
Read the original piece below:
All Star Musicians Perform The Soundtrack To A History We Never Expected
[Originally published November 9, 2016]
It had all the makings of an incredible celebration.
After HeadCount‘s noble and tireless efforts to register voters and engage the electorate in the political process throughout the circus that was the 2016 election season, the polls were closed, and their work was finally done–at least for the time being.
All that was left to do was sit back and watch the results of this monumental election roll in, and the HeadCount team had put together an appropriately monumental “soundtrack” for the historic evening. Billed as “Soundtrack To History“, the Election Night party was set to mix the pride of electing a new President with the familiar excitement of live musical improvisation. As a projection screen on Brooklyn Bowl‘s stage (and TVs throughout the venue) showed ongoing election coverage, a star-studded Everyone Orchestra lineup would play two all-improv sets of music.
Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner (The Disco Biscuits), Steve Kimock, Mihali Savoulidis (Twiddle), Vinnie Amico (moe.), Jay Jennings and Chris Bullock (Snarky Puppy), Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic), Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), former The Motet frontman Jans Ingber, Marco Benevento, Karina Rykman, unannounced special guest Robert Randolph and more collaborated and improvised impeccably throughout the evening, delivering the sort of special performance that stays with you, that inspires the feelings of appreciation, awe, and elation that live music enthusiasts constantly chase.
But on this night, the energy in the room was not in sync with the music in the air. The crowd was not buzzing with the excitement that this amazing performance should have inspired–and it was no mystery as to why. While the band wailed away, the crowd grew increasingly distracted by the elephant in the room: Despite virtually every early media prediction pointing toward an easy Hillary Clinton victory, controversial Republican nominee Donald Trump had taken the lead. As contested states continued to go in Trump’s favor, a palpable air of dread began to permeate the audience. Gradually, the crowd in front of the stage began to thin, and the crowds around the TVs in the front of house steadily grew, fixated on the incoming poll numbers in stunned silence.
By the time the band finished their second set and began to take their bows, the outcome that virtually no one expected was slowly but surely becoming a reality…Donald Trump was going to win. No glass ceilings would be shattered on this night. The crowd was in a state of disbelief as HeadCount founder Andy Bernstein stepped onstage to address the audience, himself visibly shocked by the outcome. “We all came in here having no idea what the night was going to be like…We’re all going to remember this night for the rest of our lives. And whatever you think of what happened, we had beautiful, powerful music and we were all here together.”
At the time, these words rolled off my back without sinking in. The utterly astounding turn of events that we had just seen unfold had descended on me like a thick fog. I love and appreciate the unifying powers of music–more than most, I would even venture to say. But on this night, that sentiment did little to console me. We, as a country, had just elected President Donald Trump. This man that has consistently horrified us for over a year was going to be the leader of the free world. The crowd thinned slowly, many in attendance reluctant to leave this small bubble of like-minded music folk and walk out the door into the real life.
It wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I was able to truly appreciate what Andy had said. Despite the crushing blow of watching something supposedly “impossible”–the one thing many hoped and prayed would never happen–occur before our eyes, and despite the palpably distressed cloud that the results cast over the the “Soundtrack To History” show, I had spent a historically upsetting evening watching beautiful live music surrounded by great friends, all coping together. While no one is sure of the challenges we’ll face under this new regime, all is not lost. We can still create this magic. We can still strive to make the world a better, more positive place, even in the face of overwhelming negativity. Together, we can still do good. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.
Below, you can watch full video of the “Soundtrack To History” Everyone Orchestra performance courtesy of nugs.net, and view a full gallery of photos from the historic evening’s event courtesy of Andrew Scott Blackstein Photography.
[Video: nugsnet / Jonathan Healey]
For information about how you can get more involved in our country’s political process and affect positive change through democracy, head to the HeadCount website.