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Friday, April 19, 2024

Partying for a purpose: Madison DIY bands raise money for Palestine

More than six local bands came together for two different shows to raise money for medical supplies and humanitarian relief in Palestine.

Local artists recently banded together to raise money for medical supplies and other support for people at risk in war-torn Palestine during what they called an ongoing genocide

The first fundraiser, “Punks4Palestine,” took place on Dec. 8 at Freedom Skate Shop and raised over $1,200 for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), an organization that provides medical and social support to Palestinians. 

Artists said they were united by a common cause and the need to do something to support Palestinians in Gaza, where conflict has raged for more than 100 days. 

“Being able to put your work into something greater than just being the local band is something that I think a lot more local artists and local bands should consider,” said Gavin Uhrmacher, frontman for local band Supercritical. 

Organizing for the event began on the Madison DIY Discord, according to Uhrmacher. He said two Supercritical members reached out to the organizer, Sklr, and said they would be interested in participating in the event. Local bands Killer High Life, Mio Min Mio and Sorry Machine rounded out the lineup. 

“Generating positive, tangible effects in people’s lives and in the strength of a growing movement is one of the most powerful things you can do as a creative,” Uhrmacher said. 

For Sklr, the show represented a call for action on a timely issue and continued a pattern of shows meant to use the creative power of artists to make social change. Sklr, a former University of Wisconsin-Madison student who became involved with the DIY community and activism during their time at UW-Madison, decided to stay in Madison after graduation to continue their work. 

“I felt it important to hold space for artists often not welcomed within established venues,” Sklr said. “I am very lucky to have a wonderful group of friends and am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful DIY scene.” 

The show came together with help from the community. Sklr said they reached out to friends in local bands to see if they would be interested in performing and researched places to donate proceeds, among other tasks, to bring everything together. 

“A pal of mine brought in a bunch of lights so we could create a cozy aesthetic. The skaters at Freedom [Skate Shop] helped move everything and clean everything up. The crowd was amazing and everyone was great about respecting the venue,” Sklr said. 

Originally, Sklr planned to donate the money from the event to more than one organization, but after conversations with concerned attendees about where their money would be going and how it would be used, they decided to focus on just two: PRCS and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, an unofficial affiliation started in 2003 by Madison community members seeking to build personal connections with residents of Rafah, Palestine. 

Sklr said they wanted to remind people they have power to make a difference on their own terms. 

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“I want the impact of the Punks4Palestine event to be an inspiration,” they said.

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Another group of DIY artists held a similar fundraising concert for Palestine, “From the River to the Sea,” a month later on Jan. 4, run by Troy Keller, organizer of local venue The Mousetrap. Local DIY artists The Stoplights, Muscle Memory, Daylight Savings, Faded Nature and newcomer Blaspheme played the event.

Keller said Daylight Savings first approached him with the idea to hold a fundraiser for Palestine. 

“I think a lot of people, myself included, really are just thinking of what we can do,” Keller said. “The least we can do is something like this.” 

Samantha Bosco is BlasFemme, an artist who describes her music as “acoustic punk glittercore.” Her music is also political, by her own definition. 

“When I started performing, my songs were mostly about queer and trans experiences," Bosco said. “I'm also Jewish, and I'm anti-Zionist Jewish, so I have been writing some songs that are more pointedly about Israeli occupation.”

At a local bookstore, A Room of One’s Own, Bosco performed a song called, “Daloy Politsey” which means “Down with the Police” in Yiddish. Afterward, a member of a band who had already agreed to perform in the Jan. 4 show told Bosco she should perform as well. 

Despite being a newcomer, Bosco described the community as "very welcoming." 

“The audience was a beautiful motley crew of queeridos,” Bosco said when asked about the concert. She felt the environment was very positive and said people had fun without causing destruction or anyone getting hurt in the mosh pit. 

Bosco said she hopes her music continues fostering cross-cultural collaborations for justice and peace. 

“There's a purpose and a movement that I feel called to contribute to. The purpose of this event was to raise money and bring people together. And the reason behind my music is to really galvanize and coalesce feelings of frustration and transform them into feelings of empowerment,” Bosco said. “That's really what my music is for.”


Keller’s fundraiser brought in over $1,200, which he said “isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.” Still, he was grateful to have brought the community together for a common cause, a sentiment echoed by organizers and bands who participated in both shows. 

“I feel it is a really great community where people support each other and support music and support issues like issues in general, like trans issues, like everything going on, I think music is a place where really people can come together,” Keller said. 

Sklr, the first to hold a Madison DIY fundraiser for Palestine, said they want people to remember one thing: “I want to remind people that we can be activists while doing what we love.” 

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Gabriella Hartlaub

Gabriella Hartlaub is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. She also reports state politics and life & style stories. Follow her on Twitter at @gabihartlaub.

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