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The Vote Was Rocked

Posted: September 26, 2012

Here's my story of "Rock the Vote," a fantastic concert with ALO, G. Love, and Jack Johnson, sponsored by Penn State's Student Programming Association.

Amidst the turmoil of increasingly busy days, two words brought hope and peace to Penn State students: Jack Johnson. The laid-back, good natured Hawaiian songwriter was coming to our school. Originally imagining some not-so-cheap tickets, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the show would actually be free,  but considering how college students pounce upon the softest whisper of the word “free,” I was anxious that my friend and I would not be able to get tickets.

Of course, Jack made sure things worked for me: tickets weren’t sold until the day of, so it was fair game for everyone, which meant a 1/5 mile line to the Eisenhower Auditorium. My friend and I waited from about noon until 1:15. While we waited, students in “Rock the Vote” t-shirts were walking around helping us register to vote. It turned out this whole event was intended to encourage active citizenship! In less than two minutes I had updated my address and gotten set up for November.

I noticed students in “SPA” t-shirts meandering, answering any questions the tired line-waiters had. SPA, our Student Programming Association, organizes all sorts of educational and recreational events for us; as they got an artist as awesome as Jack Johnson this early in the year, I can only imagine what else they’ll have in store! (Even this Sunday, September 30, they’ll have the band Taking Back Sunday coming in for $5 a ticket!) They had a lot of cool stuff set up. They were serving free tea, had a DJ, and a bunch of freebies and voting-related kiosks. You could even get your photo taken in one of the tour buses!

Finally the moment I had been waiting for came: ticket reception. My friend and I both got our tickets and wristbands no problem, and we were on our way, pumped for the music we’d hear in a few hours.

Before I knew it, showtime rolled around, and we had scored ourselves some excellent seats, directly across from the stage. After we met some fellow music-lovers around us, onto the stage came one of the two openers: ALO. I hadn’t heard of them before, but they sure gave us some upbeat jams. Everyone in the audience standing and shouting at this point, G. Love casually rolled on with his acoustic guitar. I was amazed at how just his voice and instrument filled the air; the entire room was dancing to his rambunctious funky blues. After a memorable hour of music, Jack Johnson and his crew walked smiling into the room, probably deafened by the screams of the girls (and myself). Since this was a promotional event, I imagined he’d play for forty minutes or so. They played for two hours; I was in heaven. The music was beautiful and dynamic, the night’s ethereal highlight. With summer’s end only a few days away, the season couldn’t have received a worthier farewell. Thanks, Jack.

--Frank