“This is family,” Beck said from the stage at Los Angeles’ Palace Theater on Thursday night (Nov. 1), explaining his surprise appearance with The Bird and the Bee and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. The occasion: an equal part concert and rally staged by Swing Left. The all-star lineup also included Karen O and Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rufus and Martha Wainwright and Moby. All came out for the same reason — to encourage and inspire people to vote this Tuesday.
“Just as any band hopes they have a voice, so does a music scene,” Grohl said backstage, reminded of growing up outside of Washington, D.C. “All of us are here because we’re like-minded people who feel that we have this vehicle to bring all these voices together.”
As anyone who follows Moby on social media knows, the multi-instrumentalist is among the most outspoken critics of the current administration. “I’m a little bit politically obsessed and have been since about 1969,” said Moby, a native of Connecticut who’s spent the last decade in L.A. “Pretty much ever since 2016, I’ve been doing all that I can to get ready and help for the midterms,” he added. “And so basically, every night, especially for the last month or two, has been at least one or two fundraisers or something. I went to an event when Swing Left was first starting and I got involved with them. I’ve given them some money and music for their PSAs.”
The night featured many musical highlights, from the Wainwrights’ powerful “Hallelujah” to Beck’s funky “Where It’s At,” with Grohl on drums. As far as Grohl was concerned, he was more than happy to let his friends have the spotlight. Said the Nirvana drummer: “From day one that was one of my favorite things about drums and one of the reasons why I had those gigantic drums in front of me, because I didn’t really want to be seen. I just wanted to be heard and so when you’re on stage with someone like Karen O or Beck or Inara [George] no one’s looking at you as the drummer. They’re only dancing to your kick drumming or snare. And I love that.”
But the musical portion of the night only served to highlight the importance of the mission at hand: encouraging political participation. “What’s so inspiring is [that] my next generation are my three children,” Grohl said. “Any of these events or issues apply to me as a father as well. I think about my daughter, Violet, who in five-and-a-half years will be old enough to vote. And I talk to her about that as I put her to bed at night. I said, ‘It’s only a matter of time before you get your voice so you can vote and change things.’ And I have a nine-year-old so she’s nine years from voting, so I’m raising three girls that are going to eventually have a voice of their own to make change to fight the good fight.”
Moby concurs that the stakes are high. “I have to say, like everyone, I am on regular occasion Googling, ‘How do you become an expat? How do you get Canadian citizenship? What are some other countries I consider moving to?'” he said. “Because if the Democrats lose the midterms and Trump wins in 2020, I’m done, because they’re doing everything in their power to erode the sort of checks and balances.”