I Wanna Die With Sweat In My Eyes – 80/35 2012

It was hot. I can not stress just exactly how hot it was. At one point during Little Ruckus’ set, there was a water balloon fight that broke down into a giant dance pit. The humidity from the water and the sweat, the heat and the movement created this weird atmospheric event that actually brought a reality to the “Sweat Power” Ruckus is always blathering on about. There was this tornado of energy and perspiration and water that actually knocked me back a few feet. Have you ever burned your hand and held it up to your face afterwards and just felt the localized heat radiate off? It felt like that, only times two thousand and with the added benefit of actual liquid in the air. I imagine it is what it felt like if you crawled inside someone else’s underpants as they walked around the festival. It was awful. I was pretty sure I was going to die. Then he made everyone run in a circle. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve sworn Ruckus was trying to kill me. Despite my near demise, it was a gorgeous moment in a festival full of them. But, my God, was it hot.

80/35 has passed for another year. There were so many things to be positive about from a pure music standpoint. Fucked Up somehow had the best set of the festival with the very first set of the festival. Hearing how loud Dinosaur Jr. was in person and realizing exactly what a giant wall of Marshall amps can do in person and to a set of ear drums was both awesome and occasionally painful (but always awesome). Jaill and K-Holes showed up in a new city and hopefully made a few more fans. Atmosphere made a new fan out of my wife with their wit and ability. Des Moines’ own Maxilla Blue brought their usual brilliance, as well the acclaimed Floor Spiders to dance in the middle of the crowd. Dan Deacon had easily the largest crowd I have ever seen at a free stage, which makes me happy both as a fan of his and as someone who was worried because he isn’t exactly the most mainstream sounding musician in the world. But Des Moines showed up. Of course, Avett Brothers and Death Cab For Cutie were amazing. I cried during the Avett Brothers while slow dancing with my wife. Screw you for judging me.

But what I took away this year was not just individual sets, it was the stories that these moments made for so many people.

Chris Lachky is the regular bassist for Love Songs For Lonely Monsters and also in New Member Charles, among others. He is also one of the best music writers I have ever read; a truly gifted person who has the ability to translate enthusiasm into actual content and create thought provoking questions because he is generally curious about what people have to say. He also is one of the nicest people I have ever met. We barely know each other, in all reality, and mostly through social media, but every time I see him, he always treats me like an old friend. There is a constant smile on his face and just a gleam in his eye, like he can’t believe how lucky he is to be alive and making art and just being a human being.

At the end of this year’s GDP, after LS4LM’s now legendary set, Chris smashed his hand loading out gear. He had to have surgery to repair the break and wasn’t able to take part in the play-in contest that won his band a spot on the main stage. Even though he was healed by the time they were able to play, he still conceded his spot to his injury replacement, though he did get to strap on his bass for their final song.

LS4LM followed up their breathtaking GDP set with another gem. I don’t know of a Des Moines band that are as built for this event as they are. Their ability and sound almost demands, and occasionally screams to be on a stage that big with speakers that large.

Now since Chris is a member of the band, he got to experience the perks of being a main stage band. Like All-Access passes. Chris used those to his advantage as he stood off to the side and watched one of his heroes, Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr.

If I have one memory from 80/35, this year and maybe ever, it won’t be the fantastic bands I have seen or the memories I have personally made. It will be Chris Lachky, he of the immense talent and winning personality, standing to the side of the stage next to Damian Abraham of Fucked Up with a giant smile on his face as Dinosaur Jr. played tracks from You’re Living All Over Me. Right after that, it is the image of Chris Lachky putting his bass on and playing music with his friends on that very same stage. Because of this festival, a good man got an amazing experience.

Nate Logsdon is a ball of perpetual motion. Even when you can corner him to talk, he moves his shoulders and head often and at times uses big hand gestures. He is a man who can never slow down. He speaks often of hustle, but not in a con artist sort of way. He shouts hustle the same way a little league coach would. He really wants people busting their ass as often and as hard as they can. Nate Logsdon is another of Iowa’s accomplished musicians. He plays a part of Little Ruckus’ entourage, as the androgynous backup dancer and occasional lead singer Beef Cake. He plays trumpet as part of The Black Gold Brass Band alongside Christopher the Conquered. He is also the lead singer of his own band, the high energy Mumford’s. It just so happened that at this year’s 80/35 those three bands went back to back to back and not on the same stage, so he had to basically sprint back and forth across the festival grounds. As I mentioned, it was really, really hot.

Nate began his day strapping on his sundress for Little Ruckus. As I mentioned, Little Ruckus’ set was nearly memorable for the wrong reasons, but instead was just one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The amount of energy and love the crowd had towards the entire Sandwich Eatin’ Crew was quite a sight. It also seemed like the people who knew what was going to happen jammed as close together as possible, while others who were maybe experiencing Sweat Power for the first time hung towards the back and wondered what they got themselves into. With the raging heat, sweaty bodies and threat of heat stroke on the cusp for hundreds of people, there was an element of danger, but never fear. It was a bit like auto-erotic asphyxiation; just when you think you’re near death…

Nate jumped, dance and sang along with everyone, risking his own health just like everyone else. Only, it would have been understandable why he maybe took it down a gear. But there he was, constantly jumping and ass-shaking. He even closed the set, singing a song about how much he loves us all. A normal man would’ve taken it easy, especially just performing as backup for someone else, that isn’t how Nate Logsdon is wired. So, pouring sweat, Nate had a quick costume change into a more conservative khakis and button up and sprinted down the street to play with CTC.

The Christopher the Conquered set was another magic experience. Chris Ford is such a charismatic and talented band leader, so the music was always high energy and had people moving. While the whole set was amazing and full of the things that makes Christopher the Conquered arguably Iowa’s best band, the last song is probably what most people are going to remember. Chris closed the show with a cover of Lesbian Poetry’s “Do You Believe In Angels”, but not just with he and his band, he also brought out roughly three dozen of his closest friends to sing with him. Since it was a love song, Chris passed a verse off to Nate so he could sing with his talented and beautiful girlfriend, Adrien Daller. He passed a verse off to his guitar player, HD Harmsen, so he could sing a verse with his fiancee, before finally taking a verse with his girlfriend. It was a magical experience for a lot of people, but especially the people on stage. My friend Matt said afterword that he got to perform on the main stage of 80/35, which was something he probably never thought would happen.

After all the love and magic, Nate had to then sprint back to the other stage to perform with Mumford’s. I expected a slightly subdued set, due to what had to have been a man running on fumes. Instead, the energy poured out, and in true Mumford’s fashion, he could not do the show by himself, so song after song featured appearances by Sharika Soal from Ladysoal, the aforementioned Lesbian Poetry, Jordan Mayland from Mantis Pincers (among others), and what was a highlight for a lot of people, Devin Frank and Patrick Tape Fleming from Poison Control Center for a cover, but really more of a duet, for their song “It’s A Surprise”. Never showing any ill effects from the weather or the amount of work put in, Nate Logsdon somehow managed to be part of three of the best sets of the weekend, back to back to back. All with a smile on his face and still blabbing about hustle.

There is a side to 80/35 that maybe a lot of people don’t consider. It isn’t just about what it does for the musicians, but what it does for the area businesses. Zack Mannheimer is best known in this town as the Executive Director for the Des Moines Social Club (he is also much lesser known as my brother in law). He is also part owner of the restaurant Proof at 13th and Locust. He and co-owner Sean Wilson prepared some unique chicken and pulled pork sandwiches for the masses, as well as hosted the Midwestix Chill Lounge. Normally a restaurant only open for lunch and twice a week for dinner was seeing people who would normally not be in their restaurant, trying their food and some coming back again and again and again.

Just walking around you could see long lines at all the local businesses, everywhere from Jimmy John’s to Americana and Ritual Cafe. With the festival bringing in some 30,000 people, there were certainly many who had never been to these establishments before and some who will undoubtedly come back.

What always gets me about 80/35; I have been to music festivals before and I always leave after having an awesome time listening to music. But it seems every 80/35 I leave with a sense of pride. These are my family, my friends and my neighbors, and many sacrificed their time and energy to make this festival happen. Even though there are some hiccups, it always comes together.

But this festival isn’t just about the Chris Lachkys, Zack Mannheimers and Nate Logsdons of the world. It isn’t even about the people like me who want so badly to attach themselves to something bigger then they. Chris was talking to a pretty blond named Caroline when I medium-drunkenly went to talk to him. She never seemed impressed with her surroundings, nor was she much for smiling. Which is too bad. She was a beautiful woman with quite the sour-puss(Also, she may not have appreciated me just butting into their conversation. But, dammit, I am a journalist. And I was medium-drunk). She seemed a little sour on the whole event. There weren’t a lot of bands that she would normally be into, but was still there. I asked who she listened to and instead of naming a band or two, she reached into her bag and handed me her iPhone, open to her iTunes. Thumbing through, it didn’t seem like her tastes were too far off from what the festival had to offer. I asked her, then, what brought her out in near record temps to see bands she didn’t really like.

“It’s something to do.”

Seriously. That is the most profound thing I could say about the event. In the long run, what does it matter if you had some sort of childhood dream achieved or if you just showed up because that’s what people were doing that night? It was an event that people of all enthusiasms could be a part of. And really, isn’t that all we need to do to make Des Moines an awesome city? Just give people something to do.

Because of 80/35 and so many things like it, there is real momentum for this city and what it can accomplish. It is exciting for me but mostly it is exciting for them:

This is my 2 year old daughter and 3 year old niece clapping along to Christopher the Conquered. I imagine that when they’re teenagers, they won’t know of Des Moines as anything other than what we all think it can be.

18 Comments

  1. No shame in getting a little misty-eyed at the Avetts… I had the same experience.

  2. Calling Christopher the Conquered “arguably” the best band in Iowa… Now that’s just irresponsible journalism. What a fricken joke.

    • Well, some people think they are, others do not. Thus they are arguably. If you think they aren’t even arguably, then the floor is yours to explain why. Just be respectful.

      • Thank you Dave, I appreciate it.

        I saw CtC live at last year’s 80/35 festival, and I thought they were mildly interesting (performance-wise) at best. Musically, they made me cringe. I was embarrassed for having been there. Horrible, awful music. Felt like I was watching a children’s TV show. Then afterward, they came prancing off of the stage, playing their instruments and in effect, pie-pipered the crowd away from the next act that was set to play. (Another local band, Thankful Dirt.)

        It was the single most classless act I have seen on an Iowa stage in 25 years of attending local music shows. They aren’t EVEN CLOSE to being the best band in Iowa. (And you did use the word, “best.” Not “most fun,” or even “most entertaining.”, which they are also niether.)

        Since you wrote it, can I assume that you believe that they are? Maybe it would be more suitable for you to explain that position since it’s your article.

        Thanks for letting me respond.

      • Fair points, but I do think the matter comes down to a simple “what I like to hear differs from what you like” and that’s perfectly fine. I find the music somewhat simple at times (but there is nothing wrong with that) and completely enjoyable. It makes me happy and I think lyrically it has something to say.

        I do regret using the word “best”. I try very hard not to say things like that because really, what does best even mean? It is all very subjective. I should’ve said “one of the most entertaining” or “one of the most captivating”. So yes, maybe a poor choice of words.

        As far as the pied piper routine goes, I don’t think harm was meant, but yes maybe more thought should’ve been made towards the other bands. However, I don’t think an act of perhaps carelessness changes what I think of their music. Which is that for all of its playfulness, it is smart and enjoyable.

        Thanks for reading and for the discussion and for keeping it respectful. I do appreciate it.

  3. Well, it wasn’t just the fact that they led everybody away.

    They continued to play well past their time slot, to a point where even the sound man was asking them to quit playing. They refused, keeping it going for 15 or 20 minutes into Thankful Dirt’s set. Not to mention that they left most of their larger equipment on the stage which caused even more delay. You can’t tell me that they meant no harm. They knew very well that they were stepping on toes, and they kept doing it anyway.

    It might not change what you think about their music, but it should certainly make you question their integrity, which they nor the DMMC have any of. If so, CtC wouldn’t have been invited back to play again this year.

    All these articles I read about the DMMC are the same, whether they are here, in Cityview or Juice, or anywhere else. It’s the same characters over and over, feeding themselves and patting each other on the back. It is a social frat club disguising itself as a friend of the local scene, when in actuality, It isolates bands and musicians more than it supports them.

    I mean that respectfully, Dave. Call me a sour-puss or whatever, but it’s true.

    Thanks again for letting me speak.

    • I pat bands on the back if they succeed in creating art that I want to hear and work hard in doing so. I worry that you called my integrity into question, even if just by association, and that seems unfair. I spend a ton of time listening to local, regional, national and worldwide bands and posting about them, not just here but all over and not just because I follow DMMC blindly or whatever you may be accusing the various outlets of doing, but because I have been listening to music for years and like to write about it.

      As far as CTC goes, I have booked and promoted them several times and have nothing but the kindest things to say about their ability and professionalism. I never had an issue with them, or really any other band in this town to be honest. So again, I cant speak for their thoughts during that set, but I can speak for my own experiences, and they have bent over backwards several times to make the shows they have been on successful.

      My sincerest apologies if you feel a lack of support from the media or DMMC or whomever for whomever, but I pat people on the back whom I feel work their tails off and play the music I want to hear, regardless of association. I choose to associate with DMMC because they promote the artists I want to hear and see succeed. And no, I wont call you a sour puss, nor any other name. Just know that I write about who I like to hear play music and nothing more. If you feel otherwise, then please continue to write otherwise. Thanks for stating your peace.

  4. very very well said, sir. we live in a pretty amazing place because of the amazing people in it. makes me proud to know even a few of them. including you. great piece.

  5. i liked the part about the little ruckus performance being one of the most incredible experiences of your life and then you went on for two paragraphs about it without saying anything about music.
    i understand the flash mob mentality and it’s great that these kids get to feel like they’re a part of something really cool, but in the end it’s all novelty. hoola hoops, pied pipers, diapers and screaming don’t have anything to do with music.
    i couldn’t agree more with troy about the lack of respect dished on other bands by ctc, last year’s 80/35 debacle was not the only incident. personally i think if the dmmc had any class they wouldn’t have hired them again, instead they’ve rewarded them at every opportunity. one big clique.
    also,if they are arguably the best band in iowa, i’d say you need to get out of ames more. there are some real musicians in this state creating real music with real substance instead of shtick. the iowa sound has nothing to do with cooking in the bathtub and shameless self promotion, we get it, you think you’re cool, great. just quit representing yourselves as carrying on the torch of iowa music.
    it shows no humility or respect and on a talent level it’s a disgrace.

    • Tell you what. I will continue to write about the music I like to listen to, and you can continue to be angry about the music I like to listen to. My apologies for having different tastes and being a sub par writer. Be well.

  6. i never said or meant to imply that you’re a sub par writer and of course you should write about the music you like, i just thought i’d express my feelings about the “scene”. no offence and sorry if it was unwelcome.
    it does kinda bother me that the ames tribune publishes and pays for articles written by “running man” that couldn’t be more biased. his ex-girlfriend is one of the premeir fingerpickin guitar players in central iowa ? really ? wow.
    it’s amazing to me that he gets paid by a newspaper to promote his own interests. integrity be damned.

    • No opinion is unwelcome. I just honestly didn’t have a response that didn’t echo what I said earlier. Also I am a fan of Kate’s as well. I think she is witty and it makes me smile, but yes I can see your point.

      But for the interest of fairness, I have heard from two people now that there are better bands to be talking about and I would rather have a positive discussion than one that can turn contentious, so who do you think deserves more coverage? Who is someone that has maybe slipped through the cracks? I try my best, and think after a year writing about the scene I have covered a lot of different corners of it (except metal, because while I like some of it, I don’t feel I would do it justice since I am not a huge fan) but I really do want to hear as much as I can. So any tips would be greatly appreciated.

      PS If you were actually curious about what I think of Little Ruckus musically, I wrote a review of his album a week or so ago. I didn’t really talk about it for this article mostly because I didn’t want to just rehash that. Also I didn’t really talk about anyone musically in that much detail because I was going for something a little different than just a typical concert review.

  7. [...] And check out what Dave Murphy had to say right HERE! [...]

  8. i’m sure kate is wonderful, i’ve only heard good things about her and i didn’t mean to slam her in anyway.
    i’m more of a roots fan and i know that’s probably not what you care for. there are many older artists from iowa that created what i call the iowa sound and many that still carry that torch. the rolling stones and dylan are old but shouldn’t be ignored. i’d say the same for artists like greg brown , bo ramsey, dave moore, joe price (biased entry), bejae fleming, kevin gordon. – the next generation, dave zollo, thankful dirt, brother trucker, chad elliott, william elliott whitmore,sam knutson, dustin busch. listen to their songs, the people the places, black dirt and open spaces of iowa ring in them. if you want to hear some good iowa music i’d suggest the iowa opera house project, there’s some real talent at those shows.
    these kids that you like are young and ambitious and i wish them the best, just not at the expense of anyone else. my real problem is with rossi, who made him king maker ? he’s exploited the scene and banked on it. it’s all self serving and he sees himself as a hero.
    again no offence, your writing is fine, i was just making a point about little ruckus. i’m really not trying to be a jerk, just a longtime iowa music supporter with an opinion. good luck.

    • Wow, that’s quite a list. I am actually a pretty big roots music fan too, and there are a couple in here that either I am a little unaware of or don’t listen to enough, so thanks a lot for sharing. Have you heard Milk and Eggs? She is a singer songwriter from Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area that I like a lot and may be up your alley.

      http://milkaneggs.bandcamp.com/

      Cool to see someone with some passion, even if you and I aren’t necessarily going to agree on everything. Thanks again for sharing.

  9. yes , i know jordan/ milk and eggs, she’s involved in the opera house project. check it out !!

  10. If it’s any consolation, the comment string above made me chuckle . . . since I’ve been on the receiving end of pretty much exactly the same sorts of comments for the past 18 years or so in Albany. No matter who I reviewed, or who I dissed, or who I championed, or who I dismissed . . . someone would accuse me of being an insider/scenester who was promoting some secret agenda, forged by a bunch of (allegedly) inferior artistes, desperate to preserve their (allegedly) ill-earned, precarious perches atop the local music market.

    So I applaud the bands you laud, and I applaud you, for being able and willing to take the time to document a musical experience that moved you . . . it may not be for everybody, but when you get right down to it, what is?

    Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship. The bands you reviewed, and you in writing your initial article, practiced craft. The commenters who belabour you here, practiced criticism. Nothing wrong with that, of course . . . but it’s a lesser art than what you are offering in your posts here, so keep up the good work, yo.


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