Doug Andrae of the rock band Darling was excited to be playing such an unusual venue as Old Town Hall in Fairfax. He looked around at the hardwood floors, chandeliers and architectural details and commented, "I feel like I should be wearing a jacket," Andrae said. "I feel like Vincent Price should be right over there."
The "Rock and Register" event on Friday, Aug. 27, was intended to get young people to come out for a free show and get them to register to vote while they were there.
According to Tim Scott of the City of Fairfax's voter registration office, three people filled out applications to register to vote at the event: one city resident, one county resident and one person from Arlington County. "The good news is, just about everybody who was there was registered," Scott said.
Approximately 25-30 people were at the show at any given time, said Susan Reynolds of Fairfax, mother of one of the members of Darling. Reynolds was the organizer of the show. "I think we learned a lot about how to do this the next time," she said.
The attendance, which was below what had been hoped for, was the result of bad timing, Reynolds said. Many area students had already left for college, and George Mason students had yet to arrive and settle in. "I talked to a George Mason student who thought if we'd held this two weeks later, it would be much better," Reynolds said.
While it is not yet definite, Reynolds hopes to organize a similar show in the future. "If the city is interested," she said.
Scott, while noting that he cannot speak for the office that issues the permits to use city facilities, said that the registrar's office would not likely have a problem with having a presence at another nonpartisan event. "It met all of our requirements," Scott said.
REYNOLDS SAID the idea for the show was based on getting youths involved in politics in advance of the November election. "A lot of people don't realize that if you will be 18 by the Nov. 4 election, you can register," she said.
"It's a great time for them to feel the kind of energy that they can have being involved in politics," said Peggy DiVincenzo, who assisted Reynolds in organizing the show.
As of Aug. 2, 613,092 voters of any age were registered in Fairfax County, and 14,101 were registered in Fairfax City. Statewide, the total is 4,360,027 registered voters, according to the Virginia Board of Elections Web site.
Reynolds approached her son's band and asked members if they would be interested in doing a show to try and draw people into an environment where they could register to vote. The band agreed and recruited three other bands, The Alphabetical Order, E-volve and Booboisie, to play a free show at Old Town Hall. "The city has been really helpful with setting this up," said Reynolds.
"I think it's a good cause," said Eric Reynolds, 17. "We're going to be playing shows anyway, so why not?"
"It's important to get into politics," said Matt Heilman, 19 of Purcellville, also a member of Darling.
Some of those in attendance are already keeping an eye on politics, even though they will not be old enough to vote in the election.
Andy Kirby, 17 of Midlothian; Ryan Tanner, 17 of Fairfax; and Majid Razvi, 16, of Fairfax, all said they would likely vote for U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., if they were old enough to vote in this year's election. "I'm planning on voting when I'm old enough," Ryan said.
The group, however, expressed displeasure with the choices in this year's election. Majid is an Australian citizen but said that were he permitted to vote in the U.S. election, "I would begrudgingly vote for Kerry."