Even rock stars are weighing in on Alaska’s budget situation. Grammy Award-winning band Portugal. The Man is back in its home state and played a free concert Tuesday evening in Anchorage as part of a rally against Governor Mike Dunleavy’s recent line-item budget vetoes.
Band members said they believe in using their artistic platform for social advocacy.
Even though Portugal. The Man is based in Oregon, bassist Zachary Carothers said an interview Tuesday morning that trips home are always welcomed.
“(We) love coming back to Alaska in the summer, look for any excuse to do it. Sadly, it had to be this one, and not fishing,” said Carothers, who grew up in Wasilla.
A friend who still lives in Alaska contacted the band about supporting a rally against the Dunleavy budget vetoes. They found a brief window before they are due at a music festival in Kentucky later this week. The band members are in Anchorage to play a single set organized on short notice.
“Somebody just kind of reached out and was like ‘hey you guys wanna come up and play a couple songs?’” Carothers said. “And we’re like, ‘yeah, we’ve got the day off, we don’t fly off on tour until Thursday. Sure. We’ll run up there for a day. See our moms, and support our friends.’”
The rally is sponsored by a group called Save Our State, a coalition of different interest groups opposing the governor’s budget proposals. In online ads, the group is urging constituents to contact particular Republican legislators and demand they vote to override the governor’s vetoes.
The band’s agenda isn’t quite that specific. What bothers them is the way the budget vetoes hit many of the state’s most vulnerable residents.
“It’s kind of the book-ended assault that really got to us the most,” said guitarist Eric Howk. “It’s early education and senior benefits, just both ends of the timeline.”
Portugal. The Man is no stranger to activism. The band has advocated for platforms ranging from indigenous land acknowledgments to gun control to endangered species protections.
When it comes to politics in Alaska, the band members take their cues from a network of family and friends.
“Our families are from here,” Howk said. “I know that we aren’t actively living up here, but any chance that we get to use our platform and use our voice as a repeater, we’re going to do it.”
The rally and concert are at the Alaska Airlines Center. It’s the same venue where Portugal the Man ended their international tour last October.