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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 69.0° F  Overcast
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Walker opponents gather at Madison Labor Temple for pre-recall get-out-the-vote rally
Tom Morello (center in red, with guitar) served as master of ceremonies and invited the crowd onstage near the end of Friday's rally.
Tom Morello (center in red, with guitar) served as master of ceremonies and invited the crowd onstage near the end of Friday's rally.
Credit:Phil Ejercito

Tired protesters, activists and voters who support the campaign to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker from office gathered Friday night for a final jolt of motivation and a get-out-the-vote rally at the Madison Labor Temple.

Cheers were louder than ever as Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, who performed in Madison during the 2011 Capitol protests, invited fans on stage for an encore of "World Wide Rebel Song."

"If we're in this together, why are we up here onstage and you're down there?" Morello asked the crowd.

Morello played the master of ceremonies role throughout the rally and introduced the other acts, which included Jackson Browne, Tim Mcllrath of Rise Against, Madison-native and Minneapolsi hip-hop star Brother Ali, Mike McColgan of Dropkick Murphys and Street Dogs, and of course, the Solidarity Sing Along.

Morello's first song of the night was a rousing round of "Solidarity Forever," in which he was joined by the other musicians. The crowd joined in, stomping its feet and shaking its fists.

Most of the music played throughout the night was folky and patriotic, with the exception of Brother Ali's electronic beats and the rock number performed by Mcllrath and Morello, where Morello showed off with an intricate solo on electric guitar.

"[The crowd is] amazing because they are angry for good reasons, but they haven't lost that sense of community and fun," Mcllrath said.

Morello's demeanor constantly switched from inspired and passionate to aggressive and incensed. At times he evoked Obama with one-liners like "The wheel of history is in our hands," yet minutes later he was a fiery ball of profanity.

"The struggle for social justice is not rated PG-13 brothers and sisters," Morello said.

Morello instructed the crowd to sing together "with the expressed purpose of getting that son-of-a-bitch Gov. Walker out of office once and for all," and on his cue, "jump the fuck up," in solidarity.

In his more articulate moments, Morello emphasized that Madison is part of a global struggle. In between sets he read statements of solidarity from Greece, Quebec, and Chile.

"It's time for us to all say 'enough is enough,'" the statement from Greece read. "It's time for us to all join the movement of resistance to social and economic injustice."

It seemed to be widely acknowledged that people were tired. The crowd was thin during the opening acts and most people sat on the grass for the first few sets.

To combat this fatigue and help inspire voter turnout with a little humor, Shannon Baruth attended the rally in a wedding dress and veil. She said people are optimistic about the election, but staying focused on actually getting out the vote is exhausting.

"If it gets people motivated, I would do anything," Baruth said.

With the election just days away, the rally, hosted by We Are Wisconsin, was organized to gather volunteers to help get out the vote. To gain admission, people were asked to provide their contact information and sign up for two GOTV shifts between Saturday and Tuesday.

"It's gonna be super close," Morello said. "If you knock on 10 doors it might not happen. If you knock on 100 doors, you're going to have a new governor in office on Tuesday!"

The potential new governor, Tom Barrett, made an appearance towards the end of the night. The crowd broke out in cheers chanting his name and "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

The Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Mahlon Mitchell, also attended the rally, shaking hands and posing for pictures. He said he spent the day campaigning in Milwaukee and plans to spend more time there in the coming days.

Most people at the rally seemed optimistic about Tuesday's election. Solidarity Sing Along participant Barb Forgue said she is "100% confident" Walker will be recalled.

Anica Bausch, another member of the Solidarity Sing Along, said she was worried there wouldn't be enough support to recall Walker. However, she said the enthusiasm she witnessed Friday gave her a new sense of hope.

"I think [Walker] is going to lose," Bausch said. "I believe that now."

Members of the Forward! Marching Band, who were also at the event, said they fear current Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch will win her recall. They said they're also nervous for problems at the polls.

Looking past Tuesday's election, it seems the activists will maintain a presence in Madison regardless of the outcome. Bausch said the Solidarity Sing Along plans to continue singing every Friday at the Capitol.

"Recalled or not, this is a lifestyle," Baruth said. "Fighting back is a lifestyle."

We Are Wisconsin staff members said police reported a crowd count of around 3,800, but they estimated over 5,000 people attended the rally throughout the night.

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