Bands for Bernie was a lot like the Bernie Sanders campaign: full of good ideas, but ultimately you knew it wasn’t going to work out. (Not that it’s over for him, but after the South Carolina smackdown...)
Held on J Street in downtown Lake Worth, BFB was an all-day love song and tribute to Sanders that included 26 bands across three stages. Unfortunately, a lot of the music was, well, not great. A few times, concertgoers took refuge in nearby stores, like the Excelsior comic book shop, to break from an especially bad act. As one attendee pointed out, this was a free event, and it might just be a case of “you get what you pay for.”
That said, toward the end of the night, a handful of more established acts managed to lift the event out of the muck. Jangle Leg and Uproot Hootenanny, a pair of whisky-fueled, bluegrass-loving outfits, got the crowd moving. Kids knocked around mini-beach balls with their parents and the tunes got one incoherent, unshowered man up front throwing bows and knocking beers out of people’s hands (until security removed him).
For many local residents, BFB was really an opportunity to enjoy the cool weather, drink some beers, and hang with likeminded friends. In the spirit of the cause, neither of the hosting venues, Propaganda nor Common Grounds Coffee Bar, charged a cover. A Tacos Al Carbon food truck sat on the edge of the event, and a few vendors set up shop under tents peddling handmade arts and crafts, such as a painting of Sanders smoking a joint (literally feeling the Bern). At least in those respects, BFB was a success.
Also on hand was Tim Canova, a first-time politician and fellow Democrat, who’s running for South Florida’s 23rd Congressional District against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He was there along with the pensioners and the punks to celebrate everything that Sanders stands for and to advertise his own campaign. He spoke several times throughout the day and took several pages out of Sanders playbook, including rallying against his opponent for allegiance to corporations, privatizing prisons, and continuation of the war on drugs.
Aside from a near fistfight between a very large man and much smaller emo-kid at Propaganda during the Thieving Hand set, Canova’s final speech of the night was probably the most interesting thing to take place on any of the stages. The crowd still managed to have plenty of fun, but with a community as small and closely knit as Lake Worth's, that’s bound to happen — regardless of what band steps up to the mic.
It was, again, sort of like the Bernie Sanders campaign so far: well-intentioned, but at the end of the day, a missed opportunity. Maybe next election.