The Santa Fe Opera was beyond packed on the evening of Saturday Sept. 9. For months, the information had swirled throughout the community: Some of the biggest-name bands operating today would play here to benefit the Santa Fe chapter of the National Organization for Women; they’d donate their time and performances; they believed in the cause. And so did the people who quickly helped the event sell out.
But it also didn't hurt that the lineup, including Albuquerque's Heather Trost (fresh off her debut solo release), Baltimore's Lower Dens, Oakland's Tune Yards, New York's TV on the Radio and, no more exciting but definitely more surprising, Wisconsin indie titan Bon Iver, was straight phenomenal—perhaps the single biggest show in Santa Fe, ever. We're sorry if you missed it, too, because damn, that was a killer show.
But how did such an historic event come to be? Meet Amelia Bauer, an artist and a part-time Santa Fean who was born and schooled some here, but ultimately left for further education and a life in California and New York City, where she still lives half the year.
"I went to a [NOW] meeting and they were talking about raising money, and I raised my hand and said 'Let's do a show!'" she says. "I've always been engaged and done small things to raise money for causes but, post-election, I felt like there were so many things under fire right then, so many people threatened, and I felt the most effective thing I could do was to focus the majority of my efforts on something that felt important to me—like reproductive rights and the fight for women's equality. … The cultural misogyny that was exposed in the last election cycle was shocking."
Put simply, the National Organization for Women is an all-volunteer citizen-lobbyist group and fundraising effort, though that hardly touches on everything it does. NOW describes itself as "the grassroots arm of the women's movement" and "dedicated to its multi-issue and multi-strategy approach to women's rights." There are chapters all over the country, but here in New Mexico, which has surprisingly progressive reproductive laws compared to nearby states, it's incredibly important to make resources available to women; many travel from around the country for access to our level of care, and offsetting some of those costs is just one of NOW's benefits. Says Bauer, "We have some of the least-restrictive abortion access, and we are all dedicated to protecting that." Regardless, an unprecedented lineup like the one of Sept. 9 was an accessible and fun way to do something good, and all those in attendance reaped the benefits just by purchasing concert tickets.
And there's more to come. "Not only are we showing all these artists that everybody loves and respects and who care about these issues and believe in a woman's right to choose and access their rights, but it also shows the community that young people care about it, too," Bauer explains. "But it's still a fight, and it's not over."
If you missed out on fighting said good fight at the last show, Bauer says there are still tickets available for the next one at the Santa Fe Opera on Monday, Sept. 25—Fleet Foxes and Beach House. Either band on its own would have been a big enough deal in Santa Fe, but to have 'em both is really pretty phenomenal, especially in benefit form. Fleet Foxes, of course, rose to prominence in the aughts with alt.folk albums like 2011's Helplessness Blues (they also spawned none other than Father John Misty, an original member who you may have heard about); the duo that is Beach House, meanwhile, has come to define the term "indie darlings" with darkly dreamlike compositions that recall the likes of shoegaze heroes like Mazzy Star or Slowdive, while still carving out their own niche.
On a more national level, Bauer says the concept is still being refined with an ultimate goal of more targeted performances from similarly respected acts. With help from NYC-based talent agent Samantha Kirby Yoh of William Morris Endeavor, Bauer hopes to interface with promoters in places that need more assistance. "We've identified areas that are in greater need of this kind of support," she says. "As you might imagine, Planned Parenthood in New York City has more support than in Birmingham, Alabama, so as bands are touring, they can have the opportunity to connect with a local organization rather than just saying, 'We're gonna give money to Planned Parenthood National.'" Now that you've heard about the plan, it seems so simple yet so elegant, right? Right.
In the meantime, snap up those Fleet Foxes/Beach House tickets while you can and pay attention to the Santa Fe chapter of NOW (visit nowsantafe.org). Bauer also points out that for those who wish to get involved, "it's as simple as showing up to the next NOW meeting." These go down the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm in the Kiva Room at downtown bar Del Charro (101 W Alameda St., 954-0320).
Noise for NOW: Fleet Foxes and Beach House
6:30 pm Monday Sept. 25. $30-$55.
Santa Fe Opera,
301 Opera Drive,