Even before they discussed putting together a concert to raise funds for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, Sean McClure and Diederik van Wassenaer had the same idea.
McClure, who plays drums in indie band How Green?, had been learning more about Sanders since other musician friends suggested he put together a benefit show. Van Wassenaer, who is a member of both the Underhills and Dietrich Jon, had a friend who put on a similar show at Players Pub, and he wanted to try his hand at it.
Their ideas converged, and the result, Berning Down the House: A Concert for Bernie Sanders, is set for 8 p.m. Friday at the Back Door. A $5 donation is requested at the door for the 21-plus show.
All door donations before midnight will go to Sanders’s campaign, as will proceeds from campaign merchandise sales by Indiana for Bernie Sanders.
The show’s lineup features local acts Dietrich Jon, Thee Aquaholics, Vista Kid Cruiser and Blind Uncle Harry.
“People are excited about music, and people are excited about art at our age, especially in Bloomington, so that’s usually an effective way to get people excited about political issues,” McClure, 23, said.
Van Wassenaer said it’s important to involve these young voters in political events, especially because of the low youth turnout in the 2014 midterm elections. voters ages 18 to 29 made up 13 percent of that year’s electorate.
To encourage a strong turnout at the 2016 presidential election, Berning Down the House will include a voter registration table, van Wassenaer said.
“If we can get people our age excited about the election, then maybe we have a chance to turn over a more or less broken system,” he said.
So far, drawing attention hasn’t taken much effort, van Wassenaer said. The event’s Facebook page has more than 200 RSVPs, and another 500 people have marked themselves as “interested.”
Back Door co-owner Nicci Boroski, who booked the show, said the show also gives people a chance to get Sanders-related material — such as rally gear and yard signs — that they might otherwise be unsure how to find.
And though some venues might see playing host to a political fundraiser as a business risk, Boroski said the Back Door’s history means that isn’t an issue.
“I think we’ve kind of made a name for ourselves as sort of a political community space rather than just a bar, and he’s a candidate we all support,” she said. “We’re doing what we can to better the community.”
Even though other conventional venues might be hesitant to play host to political events, McClure said he’s seen more political awareness take hold in the Bloomington music scene, especially in the past three years at house shows. Van Wassenaer said the combination of politics and music feels logical.
“It seems like a natural thing,” van Wassenaer said. “It’s nice to go to a show and feel like you’re part of a larger discussion. It feels good to go to a show and you walk in and there’s an entire table full of zines that were published for the event.”
McClure said he hopes the fundraiser draws more than just the students and recent graduates who are often associated with local indie rock. He’s already seen enthusiasm on Facebook from an older crowd.
And though local music is the vehicle for the benefit, he doesn’t want to make the bands the focal point, van Wassenaer said.
“The one thing I do have to emphasize is going to this show is basically supporting Bernie and getting a free concert,” he said. “It’s better than just donating to Bernie, because you get a night out. The excitement for the show is all Bernie.”