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No Age protests Converse at a Converse-sponsored show

December 29, 2012|By August Brown
  • Dean Spunt on vocal and drums and Randy Randall on guitar of No Age perform at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Sept. 30, 2010.
Dean Spunt on vocal and drums and Randy Randall on guitar of No Age perform… (Gary Friedman/Los Angeles…)

While plenty of punk fans were receiving new Converse sneakers for the holidays, L.A. noise-rock duo No Age was protesting the company (and the working conditions under its parent company Nike) at a show ostensibly promoting the shoe brand.

On Dec. 18, at a Converse-sponsored show in Barcelona, Spain, the band sneaked a 20-minute collage film of sweatshop workers, Black Friday consumer mayhem and weeping children into their live show.

In what they described as a "Planned Contradictory Action," in the middle of their set the group projected the video and played live ambient noise while surrounded by Converse banners. Beforehand, the band had requested as much Converse advertising onstage as possible, to enhance the contradiction. After promoters cut off the video with five minutes remaining, they finished their set and wryly thanked the brand for hosting them.

Singer-drummer Dean Spunt released a statement on the action (which, obviously, didn't go over well with the event's corporate promoters), which is printed below in full. It's not the first anti-corporate musical stance the band has taken this year - in June, No Age headlined a protest against a planned Wal-Mart in L.A.'s Chinatown.

On November 21st, No Age was asked to perform in Barcelona at a concert sponsored by Converse shoes. After several discussions over email regarding where banners could be placed, in contradiction to our contract, I allowed and agreed to as much overt advertising as possible. We asked for a projector to show visuals while we performed. For our performance we played 6 songs, the lights came down and the projectionist played the video piece we had made, we kept playing sounds from the stage. It contained images of Black Friday consumers with abstract text I had written, images of sweatshop workers, crying babies, protesters and excerpts from an article about Nike owning Converse shoes and the conditions of the factories and the workers that had been written in November of 2011 by the Associated Press. The promoter tried to shut the video off after about 8 minutes, I yelled at him to keep it playing, he eventually shut it off at about 15 minutes, not allowing the video to finish its duration of about 20 minutes. We played 6 more songs, I thanked Converse shoes, we packed up and we left.

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