I was excited when I heard that Madison Rising was coming to my state. They’re a conservative rock band with the ability to be musicians first and political preachers second.
Their music is not typical for what you would think conservatives listen to: they’re a heavy rock band with an old-school twist in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The concert, sponsored by the Republican party of the coinciding county, would be held at an old Armory. I was admittedly worried. If there’s one thing I’ve found Republicans are a little skeptical about, it’s rocking out.
Some conservatives can be socially rigid which is usually why liberals dominate the arts and can convey messages better. I’m certainly not like that, and conservatives like Andrew Breitbart never were, either. He was rock ‘n roll. He never fit a mold and defied the crowd whether it was on the right or the left. That’s what a conservative is supposed to be–an individual to their core meaning they are different from absolutely every other person you’ll meet. They like and cherish their own things. What brings them together is their pride to be who they want.
Rock has always been about this; fighting for that right to be whoever you are without the constrictions of anyone around you. Madison Rising’s music embodies this. I hope to embody this. However, some Republicans just don’t get it and can’t accept a conservative that goes against the grain, let alone a heavy rock band that does.
When I arrived at the armory with my girlfriend, my fears were not unfounded. The crowd skewed older and they looked like they’d rather be at a country music show. The place was full of fast food and metal chairs to sit. Sit!? At a rock concert?
My girlfriend and I took our “seats” and I immediately began sweating. I was already getting what I perceived to be dirty looks for my haircut (I may be in the military, but I had the month off so I decided to go with a mohawk–don’t tell on me). I sat in my chair looking around and thought, “this is exactly what’s wrong with the Right-we don’t know how to have any fun.” The place was dead. No one seemed like they were ready to have a good time. They didn’t even seem like they knew why they were there.
The clock ticked and ticked and the showtime got closer and closer. Suddenly, something weird happened. People began dragging their chairs closer to the stage. There were people sitting two feet away from the stage! This is not how a rock concert is supposed to go, I thought as I planted my face in my hands.
After that weird little event, the show started. Lead singer Dave Bray and his band came out looking like they were ready to rock, and they were. They jumped into a rendition of Right to Bear. A few women were dancing, but there wasn’t much else going on. In the middle of the second song, Soldiers of America, I couldn’t contain myself. I grabbed my girlfriend and ran to an open area between all the chairs and started dancing.
After another song, Bray made a simple request: “everybody stand up.” I looked around and, to my surprise, everyone did. They all came to the open area and began dancing and getting heavily into the music and the fantastic show under way. Now, I’ve been to a few rock concerts and I’ve seen best-selling musicians beg for audience interaction. Bray made one simple request and the whole mood changed. It’s like the music was running through people, and they were just waiting to be asked to jump in and join in on the fun.
The rest of the night was bliss. I saw old folks who looked more ready for hunting season rocking out to everything from The Star Spangled Banner to Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bray and his band mates put on a hell of a show. They sound as good as anything else out there and they all clearly love playing.
If you need something to compare this too, think about what rock musicians and people that listened to rock were called back in the ’60s and ’70s. They were painted as evil and violent for little more than wanting the right to be different and be themselves, free of the tyranny and judgments of others. Is conservatism today any different? Madison Rising represents this notion perfectly, and if the concert I attended is any indication, they are leading the charge for all conservatives to be a little more rock and roll.