Brian Bartels, who spearheaded the event, says he knew he wanted to plan an alternative event when he heard what Nugent stood for.
“I got the idea for the event when I first saw that Ted Nugent was performing in Pittsburgh,” Bartels says. “I vaguely knew who he was, but decided to learn more about him after seeing the ad.”
Nugent is deeply conservative with a penchant for offensive and controversial statements, spreading extreme ideas to his audiences via social media and on stage.
“I read about him calling gay people despicable, calling foreigners scum, referring to feminists as ‘fat pigs’ and even flat-out saying the world would be a better place if we killed Muslims,” Bartels says. “It was disheartening to read, but it gave me the idea to put together a show to counter his, ours having a positive message to counter his negativity.”
Bartels was not alone in his vision. Other performers, vendors, and planners were eager to get involved.
“When I got the idea for the show, I teamed up with a friend of mine in Down They Fall, Gage Vota, and the board members at The Mr. Roboto Project to host the event,” Bartels says.
“Every musician, speaker and vendor on the lineup has helped contribute to the planning process in one way or another. The event is very unique compared to the shows I usually put together, because of all of the different types of people involved — from The Vegan Goddess selling baked goods to raise money for our cause, to Makayla Montarti reading poems and sharing her perspective with the audience — there is a lot more to expect than just music,” Bartels says.
Down They Fall, the brainchild of Gage Vota, is a solo pop-folk project out of St. Clairsville, Ohio, that he has been working on since 2011. His tour is ending one day later so this show can be the finale. A lot of his songs deal with depression, which made a politically charged event such as F*ck Ted Nugent something Vota wanted to be involved with.
“We really want people to know that a lot of people go through this, and we can all come together as a community and help each other out,” Vota says. “The music scene is a community, and we have to stand up against people like Ted Nugent who thinks it’s OK to oppress people.”
The underlying goal of the show is to fundraise for groups supporting people whom Nugent's words are target. All funds from the $5 ticket sales are going to be donated to organizations including Pittsburgh Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, Community Assistance Council of American Islamic Relations Pennsylvania, and The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh.
Headlining the event will be punk-rock trio Almost Extinct from Pittsburgh, followed by Down They Fall, and local folk artist Rowan Erikson. The event will also include support from Evad and the Ominous Squad, The Benefits of Being Happy, Lokal Foreners, Jaywalking in Venice, Pigpen, littlegoodbad, and guest speaker and writer, Makayla Montarti. More artists are still to be announced.
Though the response has been mostly positive within the city, backlash online from Nugent’s fans is not absent.
“We’ve been called overdramatic and oversensitive for reacting in the way that we have, but that is all expected when you’re speaking out against a person with a following as big as Ted Nugent has,” Bartels says. “Overall, we’ve gotten mostly positive reactions to the event. The artists and vendors that I’ve reached out to have all been excited about the idea of coming together as a community to stand up against racism, misogyny, homophobia and bigotry together.”
The Mr. Roboto Project are welcoming promoters of love, positivity and acceptance. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the show will begin at 5:30 p.m.
“The shows I put together are usually very small and intimate, so I want to keep that same atmosphere while still getting the venue packed,” Bartels says. “The idea started as a simple punk show, but through the planning process, it’s grown into what it is now with all of the help and ideas from everyone contributing.”