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Coachella Prepares for ‘Berniechella’

Sanders has extended presence at California music festival

Coachella prepares for more street art of Sen. Bernie Sanders, like this image of him in Buffalo, N.Y. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Coachella prepares for more street art of Sen. Bernie Sanders, like this image of him in Buffalo, N.Y. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

One can only imagine what Burning Man — or will it be changed to “Berning Man” — will be like this summer.  

Not only did Sen. Bernie Sanders introduce a musical act at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday night, supporters will throw “Berniechella,” a block party on Thursday and Friday night in Old Town Coachella, before the Southern California festival’s second weekend. One of the DJs featured will be Shepard Fairey, the street artist of the Obama “Hope” poster fame. There will be food trucks, a beer garden and “live art.”  

Over the weekend, Sanders warmed up the crowd by introducing Run the Jewels, a hip-hop duo formed by rappers Killer Mike and El-P. Usually, it’s Killer Mike who does introductions for the candidate on the campaign trail.  

“One of the highlights of running for president over the course of this last year has been getting to know Killer Mike,” Sanders said to the crowd in Indio via video message . “His depth of passion, his knowledge and commitment to community is an inspiration to me and I value his friendship immensely. El-P, keep up the great work and let’s get to know each other better in the months that come.”  

Sanders and Killer Mike have indeed gotten close over the course of the campaign. The New York-born and Atlanta-based rapper has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Vermont independent. In November, for instance, the two sat for an hour-long conversation about politics at the SWAG shop in Atlanta.  

The Sanders campaign has attracted a big list of musician supporters. Vampire Weekend and Foster the People performed for him in Iowa City. He even sports the endorsements of artists from older generations, like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.  

But this extended presence at Coachella is a bit of a first. And there could be more, with the crowded summer music festival schedule ahead.  

Lollapalooza 2016 just happens to take place July 21-28 in Chicago, at Grant Park, overlapping with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (July 25-28). It’s not tough to imagine Sanders finding time to swing by, even if just by video or hologram.  

And there’s always Burning Man, which isn’t until Aug. 28-Sept. 5, after the convention. Its artistic and bartering-based community is a good fit for the guy who has made breaking up big banks and overhauling how the economy works a pillar of his campaign.  

But first, Coachella awaits. Another act, rapper YG got into the political swing of things on Saturday by performing his song, “F— Donald Trump.” It was a refrain not entirely uncommon in Coachella’s first weekend. The set list for Berniechella should be interesting.  

“This is the first time since I’ve been here on this dais and the first time in the Coachella Valley that the campaign of a presidential candidate is willing to do an event,” Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez told the Desert Sun . He added he’d “love” to see Sanders’ primary rival Hillary Clinton come as well. “If she wanted to come here and do something we’d be open to that, too.”  


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