Politics and rock music do not usually go hand in hand, but the founder of Hopeless/Sub-City Records and the Take Action Tour, Louis Posen, has managed to break down that barrier and force the two to join forces through a nationwide music and awareness tour. The 6th annual Sub-City Take Action Tour aims to educate people, specifically teens, on suicide prevention while boasting a varied range of musical talent.
“We bring in bands who believe in the cause and want to do something positive with their art combined with bands who can bring in fans,” said Posen.
This year’s tour boasts openers Kaddisfly, A Static Lullaby, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, and Emery, along with one of 2006’s breakout rock bands, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, as the climactic headliner.
At a press conference held last Wednesday on Capitol Hill some of the bands and the tour’s sponsors came out to promote the Take Action message. Speakers from the tour’s benefiting charities, The Kristin Brooks Hope Center and the suicide hotline 1-877-YOUTHLINE, spoke on behalf of their organizations. Ronnie Winter, the frontman of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, broke down in tears at the podium while reflecting on the consequences of suicide and the friends he has lost because of it. Winter also spoke passionately about his and the rest of the band’s insistence on becoming involved in the program by becoming certified in suicide intervention.
Accompanying the tour’s speakers were the notorious Congressman Pat Kennedy (D-RI) and Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA). Representative Kennedy spoke on behalf of his mental health bill which will grant more funding and insurance benefits to those suffering from mental illness. During his impromptu rambling speech, Kennedy freely admitted his own usage of “mental health services” to the crowd. It’s not really a surprise considering the scandal Rep. Kennedy was involved in last year, where he confessed to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol after he crashed his car hours before a floor vote.
The following night, the first date of the Take Action Tour kicked off without a hitch at the 9:30 Club to a near sold out pre-teen crowd of emo scenesters. The tour’s opening band, Kaddisfly, blew the crowd away with their mix of indie/pop/hardcore sound. Despite being a virtually unknown, the Portand, Oregon band received a more profound response than most of the following bands.
The kings of synth rock, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, pumped up the audience and caused quite a bit of havoc onstage. Most likely blasted out of his mind, keys player Pouyan Afkary felt compelled to continuously stage dive into the audience and throw his keyboard into the air, nearly maiming his bandmates.
The final act, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, took the stage with the Star Wars theme song blasting from the club’s surround sound and fog machines swirling haze throughout the club, while Winter imitated Darth Vader, wearing a dollar store cape and yielding a glowing light saber.
Discounting the cheesy entrance, these new age rockers took their live performance seriously, playing nearly every song off their major label debut, Don’t Fake It.
“You can’t get any closer to your fans than at a live show. I mean that’s it. That’s where it is,” said Winter.
Red Jumpsuit has come a long ways since booking their own tours and traveling the country in a beat up old van. Since signing to Virgin Records, RJA has skyrocketed to the top of the rock charts, thanks to their debut single “Facedown.” Inspired by the plight of domestic abuse, the catchy rock-pop fused single has launched the band into mainstream success.
“We take it one day at a time. We don’t think, ‘Aw man I wonder if people think we are sellouts.’ We know who we are and what we believe in,” said Winter.
The guys of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus may be considered sell outs for having a TRL worthy video or traitors to hardcore for softening their sound to have radio friendly songs, but the band certainly cannot be classified as generic. Incorporating various aspects of hardcore, pop, alternative, metal, and emo, RJA has a unique sound that will surely be copied by bands in the future. With a clear direction in mind and a focus on living in the moment, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is clearly going places in life.