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A Music Competition Headlined by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Two acts obtained high billing at MadSoul, a music and humanities competition in Florida, on Saturday. The primary was Muna, an indie-pop group that opened for Taylor Swift at some Eras Tour stops. The second: Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York.

She and several other elected Democrats shared a stage with musicians like Phoebe Bridgers in the course of the daylong occasion at Loch Haven Park in Orlando. Different politicians included Representatives Greg Casar of Texas and Maxwell Frost of Florida, the primary Gen-Z member of Congress.

Mr. Frost, a percussionist, can also be the founding father of the MadSoul Competition, which he began in 2018 when he was working as an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union. He stated in an interview earlier than this 12 months’s occasion that he had “personally booked the entire lineup.”

Mr. Frost — who performed drums for Enterprise Motel, a neighborhood band, throughout its set on the competition — described the occasion as a approach to attain individuals who may not be as curious about politics as they had been in politics as leisure, an idea that has unfold for the reason that election of the nation’s first reality-TV-star president.

There are “individuals who received’t go to a political rally however will come to this,” stated Mr. Frost, 27, whose district contains most of Orlando. “This is among the methods we are able to activate them and join with them.”

MadSoul Competition adopted a playbook that had been in use by organizations like Rock the Vote, however with a nakedly partisan and progressive strategy. Some competition tickets had been free whereas others began at $20, and occasion proceeds went to Mr. Frost’s re-election marketing campaign and to a political motion committee affiliated with him. A portion of these earnings had been earmarked for teams that supported causes like L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion rights in Florida.

Close to a sales space promoting competition T-shirts and different merchandise had been tables for individuals to find out about group organizations or register to vote forward of the 2024 election. Musical performances had been interspersed with speeches, some criticizing current legal guidelines handed in Florida that banned books, restricted abortion entry and prohibited discussions about sexual id in colleges.

Different remarks addressed gun violence: Brandon Wolf, 35, spoke about surviving the mass capturing on the Orlando nightclub Pulse, and Manuel Oliver, 56, spoke about his son, Joaquin, who was killed within the mass capturing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, Fla.

One other Democratic politician on the lineup, Montana State Consultant Zooey Zephyr, stated in an interview earlier than talking to the gang that the idea of “the non-public being political” has develop into trite to some individuals.

However Ms. Zephyr, who’s transgender and who final 12 months was barred from taking the ground of the Montana Home of Representatives for criticizing a invoice banning transition take care of transgender minors, added that, to her, “There’s no approach to view our political battle for a greater nation as something apart from a deeply private battle for each group.”

Tennessee State Consultant Justin Jones, earlier than talking onstage, stated that the competition was “very a lot about celebration,” however that it was “additionally a type of resistance to what’s round us.”

As an alternative of a white go well with just like the one he was sporting final 12 months when he was expelled from the Tennessee Legislature over a gun-control protest, Mr. Jones, a Democrat, wore a shirt that learn “there isn’t a Planet B.” However what the go well with represented seemingly influenced the outfit selection of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who wore a white jumpsuit.

Most of the nearly 3,000 individuals who attended additionally wore garments that mirrored the occasion’s political side. Plenty of shirts had been emblazoned with quotes attributed to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; different shirts addressed the Israel-Hamas battle with phrases like “cease-fire now.”

However among the many self-described activists, soon-to-be-first-time voters and group organizers within the crowd had been many individuals who stated they had been primarily drawn to the competition by its promise of music and humanities.

Kiana Bartloff, 22, a forged member at Disney World in Orlando, stated she got here to see Lin-Manuel Miranda. He spoke about civic engagement earlier than introducing a efficiency by a theater troupe from a neighborhood highschool, which carried out a medley that included songs Mr. Miranda had written for “Hamilton” and “In The Heights.”

Ms. Bartloff, who was sporting a rainbow-striped ribbon and a shirt from the Disney Satisfaction line, described herself as somebody who wasn’t “essentially politically concerned.” Although music and humanities may need introduced her to the competition, she stated, attending allowed her “to listen to the message that I wouldn’t in any other case come right here for.”

When requested about her shirt, she stated, “I clearly have opinions; nonetheless, delight not looks like a problem of politics.”

Claire Classon, a pupil at Rollins Faculty in Winter Park, Fla., stated she had come to see Muna. Her outfit — a pink slip costume and white lace tights — was a homage to the band’s music, “Silk Chiffon.”

However Ms. Classon, 18, who had accessorized her look with friendship bracelets, stated she was excited by the prospect to see Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Frost, too. Gun violence was additionally on her thoughts on the competition: She stated she was “at all times anxious about that, particularly since Parkland.”

Just a few hours into the occasion, a protest in opposition to Israel’s navy marketing campaign in Gaza shaped simply exterior the doorway to the competition. It concerned teams together with the Florida Palestine Community, which has accused Mr. Frost of being insufficiently supportive of Palestinians. Mr. Frost, who has cosponsored legislation calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, took the stage amid the protest to reiterate his help for a cease-fire.

Later, after the demonstration had died down, extra pressure broke contained in the competition. Throughout Muna’s efficiency, some supporters of Palestinians within the crowd demanded to be let onstage. The band, which had voiced help for a cease-fire throughout its set, stopped enjoying and walked offstage. About 10 minutes later, Muna returned and went on to complete its set by performing “Silk Chiffon” with Ms. Bridgers as a shock visitor.

Katie Gavin, a member of Muna, stated in an interview earlier than the band’s efficiency that she didn’t assume its members — all of whom determine as queer — have tried to separate their political and musical identities. “We simply noticed it as being all collectively, and so I believe due to that we’ve developed a fan base,” she stated.

She added that the band’s followers have formed its members’ strategy to politics. “They’ll maintain us accountable,” she stated, “if we’re not talking on one thing.”