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  • Writer's pictureAva Severs

Barricade at the Political Concert

After waiting in line in the hot Iowa sun, I was most excited to sit in some air conditioning. Others seemed to share this same energy while they fanned themselves and crowded in the small amount of shade available outside. After walking into the event space, everyone’s energy was somewhat low from sweating outside. People shuffled to their seats and talked amongst themselves. Nobody was expecting Dancing Queen by ABBA to start playing, yet suddenly, people were on their feet dancing and singing along.


The energy of music can arguably make or break a campaign event. Do you want participants to casually sing along or to dance their hearts out? The memory of putting a smile on their face and connecting with other Iowans can last longer than the words spoken by the candidate. Music has a way of bringing people together through different genres, lyrics, beats, and messages. Music can add another level of energy to campaign events, making them even more memorable.


A Trump rally in Ottumwa, Iowa, was the perfect example of Iowans enjoying music to get excited for the upcoming political event. From country to pop to religious soul music, there was bound to be a song you could sing along with... maybe even dance a little bit if you were really into it. In fact, you would hear a song you enjoyed more than once. A playlist with very popular songs was played more than once at this rally. Some songs received more excitement than others, and a few had most of those in attendance singing along. From this, you could tell Iowans either loved the message and lyrics of a song, or it was just a catchy favorite. For example, the patriotic country song Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Keith was an obvious fan favorite. As the first lyrics were sung, attendees jumped out of their seats to belt out the lyrics unapologetically. Personally, I cannot remember the last time I heard that specific song. Older and younger participants were dancing at the front of the crowd while singing along. Some raised their signs high above their heads that read “Women for Trump” or “Make America Great Again.”


When a slower song started to play, the group slowly stopped dancing, took their seats, and started conversations with people around them. When the next upbeat song started to play, however, these same individuals were back on their feet dancing with their arms and signs in the air again. With their bright clothing and American flags, it seemed like a Fourth of July party instead of a political event!


To be honest I was worried before attending a Trump rally. However, watching Iowans dance and sing along to some of their favorite songs, I quickly realized that there are no political boundaries to the love of music. Dancing Queen by ABBA, Rolling in the Deep by Adele, and Kick The Dust Up by Luke Bryan were just a few of the greatest hits of the event. My own personal favorite was Give Me Everything by Pitbull. There is no possible way you can deny the urge to dance when Mr. Worldwide starts to play! Instead of sitting at home worrying about homework, I was grooving with the sound of one of my favorite Pitbull songs.


At Vektoberfest, an event in support of presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a live band was the avenue for energy through music. This was a pleasant surprise for many of those in attendance. Although there was not as much dancing as the Trump rally, Iowans also enjoyed live music at this political event. Other students and I joked that we “made barricade” for this concert, which meant we were up as close as you could get. Front-row seats at concerts are the most sought-after!


At our homemade barricade, we were excited that on this Thursday night, we could enjoy live music with other Iowan voters. I will admit I was happy to sit in the fall sunshine on a hay bale, eating a grilled cheese sandwich and listening to some of my favorite country songs. I almost forgot I was at a political event with all of the different treats I could find. At Vektoberfest specifically, the food and music were a draw for many other attendees. In fact, a woman in line for the face painting noted how she decided to attend after receiving a text that there would be live music and free food. While the live band played covers of familiar country songs, attendees could sing along as they painted paint pumpkins, played yard games, and tried the variety of food trucks.


One man lounged in the bright sun with his hands behind his head against a hay bale. If you had just stumbled across this park in West Des Moines, you would hardly recognize it as a political event. This man also seemed to forget he was at a political event as he watched the band and relaxed in the sun. Although the strong breeze that made it clear it was fall in Iowa, the sun was still shining, and the attendees obviously enjoyed the atmosphere. The energy was more relaxed than the Trump rally, but unfortunately, there were no attendees dancing their hearts out.


Some people would rather do anything else than attend a political event. For Iowa voters, I have observed a clear sense of happiness and excitement. Part of this has been from the sound of catchy music that has filled the area. No matter the candidate or event, or genre, music will bring joy to Iowans.


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