The Soundtrack to History
Last night, HeadCount. Magic Hat and the Everyone Orchestra teamed up to present the “Soundtrack to History,” an improvised musical performance set to the election returns. To view Soundtrack to History online, visit nugs.tv.
When we named the event, we pictured a night people would remember for the rest of their lives. But none of us predicted how it would all go down.
The Brooklyn Bowl was decked out in election pageantry (including the big projection behind the stage) was tuned into election results and there were glow sticks, glow sticks galore.
The bar started filling up, the patrons sipping on Magic Hats and gawking at televisions. There was a nervous optimism in the room, and when Everyone Orchestra took the stage, for a brief respite, the focus was on the music.
And the music was damn good.
But the attention slowly returned to the televisions. Florida was too close to call, same with New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Soon Michigan and Wisconsin became too close to call. And the anxiety among the many partisans in the room started to grow.
These were not the results that the pollsters told us to expect. This was entirely different, and no one seemed ready.
My eyes darted between the stage and my cell phone, alternating between diving into these jams and diving into the New York Times' live election forecast tool.
Set break came. I started chatting with Aron Magner, of the Disco Biscuits. He summed up all of our moods when he told me, "This night is crazy. I'm trying to look at these wild results, but Marco [Benevento] is a fucking wizard out there." This election was awe-inspiring, but to that point the jams matched the mood and made us dance off our weird energy.
During set break the sound on the televisions blared through the PA system. Slowly it dawned on the crowd that Donald Trump indeed had the inside track to be our next president. That the pollsters we put so much faith into we're wrong. The vibe had turned into a stunned awe.
Backstage, Marc Brownstein immediately took to his phone. Checking the results, texting, checking the results. Our co-founder was almost silent, totally focused on this election. Robert Randolph - a surprise guest for the night - was conversely upbeat. He kept saying, “Whoever wins, there’s still music. There’ll always be music.”
Everyone Orchestra returned for a second set. Now with Karina Rykman on the bass. Robert was on the slide guitar, opening up with his moving rendition of God Bless America. Then the jamming continued into the darkest ‘All Along the Watchtower’ I’ve ever heard.
Later they went into a tune with the soothing lyrical refrain of "Hey, Hey, Hey, Everything is gonna be alright."
Eventually the music ended. The crowd wasn't ready for the jams to stop. For leaving The Bowl meant re-entering a reality they were not prepared for.
But it ended. As I said goodbye to Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle, he spoke something so true and powerful I'd feel like a chump if I didn't share it. He put a smile on his face, looked me dead in the eye and said, "Hey, this doesn't mean we can't still do good."
He's right. Whether you voted for Trump or Clinton. For Johnson or Stein. Whether you voted to legalize marijuana or against minimum wage hikes. No matter how you feel now, no matter who sits in the Oval Office, we can still love, we can still care, and we can still do good every day.
Special thanks to Magic Hat, Brooklyn Bowl, Everyone Orchestra, Matt Butler, Marco Benevento, Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, Steve Kimock, Mihali Savoulidis, Karina Rykman, Vinnie Amico, Jeremy Salken, Natalie Cressman, Robert Randolph, Jay Jennings, Chris Bullock, Mike Maher, Justin Stanton and Jans Ingber.