Post-Election Peaceful Protest Concert Shows That “Art is a Powerful Way to Fight”

By Keaton Comiskey

On the morning after the presidential election, many students at Purchase appeared to feel a united sense of hopelessness. One student, Henry Caughy, quickly took to the SUNY Purchase Open Forum to propose the idea of a peaceful protest concert. “Just pissed off and confused after the election,” he wrote. Caughy wanted to have a protest concert because he realized a lot people felt like they had nowhere to go; they needed an outlet.

“I wanted to show the people of Purchase,” Caughy said about the lineup that he chose for the concert that was held in the Multicultural Center on Saturday, Dec. 10.

The four acts of the night, all Purchase students, crossed over a few different genres. The first act was an experimental noise project under the name flesh.body_world. The solo project being debuted by Nicholas Wendt was a compelling start to the evening as he delivered an emotional stream of conscious monologue about creating music over a series of chopped up and distorted samples.

The following act, Danny Fisher, combined an intricate mix of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music. Fisher opened his set by creating a funky instrumental track made only from looping his vocals on the spot. As his set continued he opted for pre-made backing tracks, freeing him up to dance around. He charmed the room as he switched between rap verses and R&B falsettos.

The next act was acoustic singer-songwriter Rachel Pallassino. Pallassino walked up to the microphone with her guitar, wearing a red t-shirt with white letters that read “Immigrants Make America Great.” Pallassino played a brief but meaningful set that featured a beautiful moment as she sang a song titled “I’ll Stand With You” backed by Purchase acapella group Choral Pleasure. She explained how the song was written after seeing many of her friends of different backgrounds and ethnicities feel discouraged after the election results. While she knew she could not relate to everything, she wanted them to know she cared. “I wrote these songs for my friends,” she explained, “and I wanted to share them with other people.”

“People come together for concerts anyway, so coming together for a cause is just a step above that,” Pallassino said.

The final act of the night was another acoustic singer Rachel Chevat. Before her first song, Chevat let out a content sigh and explained how the previous month had felt very long and she was happy to have the opportunity to play music. Chevat moved through her performance with just a guitar and her voice. Her soft and almost folky vibes made the Multicultural Center feel as if it were cozy coffee shop. While her set did not have any direct political message, it was definitely a great way to end the event.

“Even if music isn’t directly political, just to heal is a revolution in itself,” she said on the topic of music and art in politics. “Art is a powerful way to fight.”