March 11, 2024

The Strokes Concert a Boon to Collins’ Campaign Finances

By Delaney Disario
@redlineproject

The Strokes photo The Strokes performed a benefit concert for Kina Collins at UIC’s Credit Union 1 Arena on Friday.
(Photo: Anna Regnerus/for the Red Line Project)

UIC’s Credit Union 1 Arena hosted a campaign concert on Friday for 7th District Democratic candidate Kina Collins, headlined by The Strokes. The sold-out show was the band’s second concert supporting Collins, previously performing at Metro in Wrigleyville during Collins’ 2022 campaign. The event fell on International Women’s Day, as well as Collins’ 33rd birthday. 

Collins, 33, is running her third campaign to unseat longstanding Representative Danny Davis, 82, who has held his seat for nearly three decades. Collins is running against Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, 48, who believed the fundraising concert infringed on campaign finance laws

The Strokes performed a 16-song set, coming on for an extended encore at the end of the show. Hits including “Last Nite” and “Someday” were played, and the band ended the night with “Reptilia.” Before performing the last song, Collins came on stage again to encourage the audience to go out and vote.  The Illinois primary is March 19, and early voting is now open. 

Collins has been trailing behind her opponents when it comes to fundraising efforts. While Davis and Conyears-Ervin have raised over $450,000 and $600,000, respectively, Collins has stayed under the six-figure mark, with only $72,000 raised. The concert was expected to bring in upwards of $200,000, putting Collins in the rank with her opponents. 

Grammy-award-winning band The Strokes are well-known progressive political activists who publicly supported Bernie Sanders during the 2020 election. Julian Casablancas, the group’s frontman, is often vocal about his beliefs

Casablancas and Collins met at a party in New York a few years back, and the pair bonded over progressive values and seeking political change. 

“I met Julian a couple of years ago, and we started talking about how we want to transform government, and this is what it transformed into,” said Collins when speaking about the concert. 

The show had support from Chicago locals Beach Bunny and NNAMDÏ, and New York-based Uwade, who sang a cover of The Strokes’ “One Way Trigger.” Between each set, friends and supporters of Collins came onstage to promote her, including Ugo Okere, the 25th Ward IPO chairperson, and Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48th Ward). 

“Kina’s going to fight for all of us, especially women and young women everywhere,” said Manaa-Hoppenworth. 

While many supporters of Collins’ campaign were onstage, the crowd had few. The crowd mainly consisted of young fans who were only there for the music. When asked about the event, multiple concertgoers didn’t know who Collins was or what she stood for. Groups of fans seemed to be confused and upset by the amount of political talk between sets, with some fans booing as Collins came on stage to speak.

“We’re just here for the show,” said Cole Schoneberg, who traveled from the Quad Cities to see The Strokes. Schoneberg came with his friend, Dalton Jones, who said they weren’t very politically active. 

“I’m still undecided. I just don’t really feel like I’m fully informed of what’s going on, so I want to find out more information before making a decision,” Jones said. 

Another set of fans came from Wisconsin for the event but knew nothing about Collins’ campaign. Alex Close, a massive fan of The Strokes, was excited for the concert but said he was more of a middle-of-the-road voter. 

Grace and Catherine Cahill were two of the few Collins fans in the crowd, donning campaign merchandise to the event. The twin sisters had high hopes for Collins’ chances of winning the election, referencing the fact that Collins won 45% of the vote in the 2022 midterm elections. 

The pair joined an Oak Park organization, Youth Committee 4 Change, in 2022 during Collins’ last campaign. The organization was so moved by Collins’ message that they created an offshoot group, Youth for Kina. The group worked alongside Collins, phone banking for the candidate and even performing a concert for her at a local venue.

Before the headliners went on stage, the Collins family and campaign members came on stage to celebrate the candidate’s birthday. The crowd of ten thousand sang “Happy Birthday” to Kina and cheered as she prepared the crowd for The Strokes’ performance. 

“I just wanted to say thank y’all, y’all could be doing anything tonight, but you’re here. Are you ready for The Strokes?” asked Collins to cheers from the crowd. “Clearly, Chicago is one of their favorite cities.” 

Collins then took the opportunity to explain why she is running for Congress, giving fans a chance to learn more about her campaign. 

“We don’t have enough women and Black women in Congress,” said Collins as she addressed key issues such as reproductive rights, gun violence and student-loan debt. 

“They’ve got money, and we’ve got people. And when you’ve got the people, you’ve got the power,” she yelled, starting a chant with the fans before leaving the stage. 

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