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Dispatch From the DNC’s Kickoff Parties

Charlotte, N.C. — The rain didn’t stop the music Monday, when hundreds of Democratic National Convention attendees fanned out across the city’s center to catch some of the country’s top musical acts.

John Legend headlined the Duke Energy soiree at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum.

Before he took the stage though, hundreds of partygoers noshed on Carolina barbecue, swigged craft beer and milled about the circular ramps that gave them a view over the heads of other guests. An auxiliary stage was set up, with a DJ to entertain the crowd working over tables overflowing with chocolates, mini cakes and key lime pies.

The crowd politely listened to the opening act — Edwin McCain — while waiting the night’s main event.

After Legend took the stage, he urged the audience to vote despite some state voter ID laws that he claimed are “trying to keep some away from the polls.” Most people, however, seemed more interested in the R&B star’s music than his political message.

Singer John Legend killing it at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum. (Meredith Shiner/CQ Roll Call)

Then at the North Carolina Music Factory, Camp Freddy took the stage and rocked out with special guest Sebastian Bach, lead singer from Skid Row.

On one side of the open-air courtyard stood a vodka and tequila bar made of ice. Under a tent in the center, organizers positioned couches and a circular bar around a pool.

At the North Carolina Music Factory, there was a tequila and vodka bar made of ice. (Neda Semnani/CQ Roll Call)

As the bartenders moved around the bar as fast as they could, one partygoer remarked, “Even money one of them ends up taking a bath tonight.”

Bach belted out a phenomenal version of the Guns n’ Roses classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” This reporter, at least, threw up her fists and sang along with her eyes closed.

Bach also ripped apart Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s musical tastes, asking the crowd whether they loved the legendary band Led Zeppelin more than the candidate.

On the other side of town at the StartUp RockOn kickoff party, the Roots thrilled a packed house at Amos’ Southend, cutting through a sweaty set of their own hits and covers from acts a diverse as  Zeppelin, James Brown and the Beastie Boys.

Mayor Michael Nutter, from the band’s hometown of Philadelphia, watched the show from the VIP area, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) — who was pretty stoked to be recognized — milled about the venue taking in the scene.

After the show, those who knew the password (Kwasie) were able to catch the band’s drummer/musical director ?uestlove spin to an intimate group at the Elder Gallery, while other members of Jimmy Fallon’s house band danced and mingled with the normals.

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Photos of the week ending July 12, 2024