Fall weather didn’t stop people from gathering behind the University of Maine Field House for Sigma Phi Epsilon’s eighth annual Rock Against Rape. The concert, which raises awareness about sexual assault, featured Portland-based headliners Headstart and student bands Restless Groove and Two Days Later.
Adam Mullen, a fourth-year music student, organized the event and played lead guitar in Two Days Later.
“We’re trying to get as many people here as possible because we can give them the message that they may not hear when they’re in the dorms,” Mullen said. “They might not get out and hear about Spruce Run [a domestic abuse center] or Rape Response Services and what’s available to them.”
The concert, which does not raise any money, features speakers in between the musical acts. Noel March, University of Maine Public Safety police chief, provided staggering statistics about sexual assault at UMaine. According to March, seven cases were reported last year at UMaine, but this number represents one-tenth of cases are actually happen.
Tina Voigt, community outreach educator for Rape Response Services, spoke at the event as well.
“I go around to schools, businesses and obviously university concerts,” Voigt said. “We try to get to the root of the problem, as opposed to just treating the symptoms. We try to debunk the myths.”
Voigt praised the brothers of Sig Ep for supporting the cause as a group of men. She said she was glad they continue to hold the Rock Against Rape event and prove rape is not just a women’s issue.
Just as important as the message was the music. The crowd swayed to the ’90s rock sounds of Two Days Later, which featured two brothers from Sig Ep. The band played a mix of originals and songs that caused a little too much nostalgia, while singer James Gilmore’s vocals shined.
Restless Groove, another student band, brought the funk with them. Plenty of bass slapping and snappy guitar riffs got the audience moving in the frigid air.
Headstart, Portland’s Blink-182, even brought a posse from southern Maine to add to the Rock Against Rape crowd.
According to Mullen, budget cuts affected the show, but with student bands playing for free, the show was able to go on.
“We were able to find [Headstart] who rock pretty hard,” Mullen said. “I listen to them. I like their stuff. We had a couple openers scheduled that I also liked but they either broke up or they couldn’t do it.”
Mullen enjoyed himself on stage as well. He said he was less nervous about playing, and more nervous something would go wrong because he was in charge of the event.
“But when I’m on stage,” he added, “I’m there to entertain, I’m there to rock out and I’m there to have a good time.”
The concert was dedicated to Sig Ep brother Andrew Gerke who passed away last spring. While at UMaine, he helped organize a multitude of Rock Against Rape shows and was responsible for bringing some big names to the event, according to Mullen.
“He really touched a lot of people’s lives,” Mullen said. “I really, really felt that we need to [dedicate the concert] to him this year. I think he would have been very proud.”