This Week @ Des Moines Is Not Boring (Catch Datagun Before They’re Gone)

Click the pic and head to the site, please.

This was supposed to run over at Des Moines Is Not Boring today, but I sort of failed to use my email properly. So, I am going to run this here instead. Be sure to head over to Des Moines Is Not Boring and read all of the great work on the site. Click the link or the banner

The whole reason I started booking bands in the first place was so I could get Awesome Car Funmaker a regular Des Moines gig. For those unaware, and unfortunately that would be just a whole lot of you, Awesome Car Funmaker was a band from Madison, Wisconsin who played a loud set with a lot of synth and punk rock snarl. They wore ties and had choreography. Sometimes there was a keytar. They were the first band I ever saw cover Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. They were also maybe the best band I have ever seen. It was so much fun to watch their controlled chaos and join in on their sing-a-longs about tiger pirates, zmobies and aliens.

A group of us even traveled around to see them. One time we saw them open a show in Minneapolis. Their set was so incredible that the crowd chanted for an encore. Again, they were the opener. They looked at each other and shrugged and went to play one more song. The sound guy ran from his booth and actually ripped their cords out so they couldn’t play. I also saw them play a show with a band that had a wizard for a lead guitarist. I’m not using that as an adjective; he was an actual wizard.

When I finally got a space to book bands, they were the first ones I contacted. Unfortunately, they had decided to call it quits. Seems that playing amazing, Earth changing, revolutionary shows wasn’t enough to maintain their lifestyle of, you know, eating and paying rent.

Bands break up all the time. It is unfortunate fact of life, especially to someone who follows the local scene. You hear a band you really like; maybe you go to a few shows and even buy a t-shirt and then, suddenly they’re gone. It happens a lot. Kids who start bands become adults with mortgages and children and they get real jobs and can’t play in bands anymore. Sometimes they get to have send-offs, sometimes they just go away.

It is because of Awesome Car Funmaker that I go to so many shows and listen to so many bands. You don’t just have to listen to the biggest bands in the universe all the time, sometimes you can find a band you love close to home. You go to shows and be a part of something small, but the art is still incredible and emotional and the attachment is that much more special.

There is a band from Iowa City that has been around for a few years by the name of Datagun. They are an awesome three piece noise-pop band with an incredibly diverse and unique sound. It sometimes dances between house beats and r&b, and sometimes it is just awesome noise. Vocally, they are a little monotone when needed, a little thrashy, sometimes a baritone reminiscent of The National. The lyrics on occasion are belted at just the right note and sometimes aren‘t, but it still feels right.

Datagun is incredible, but you will never get the chance to truly love them, because after this weekend they will be gone. They will be another band subject to the occasional reunion gig and reminiscing of the people who truly knew them. This is why going to shows and being a part of the scene is so important. Sure, you are supporting artists who will hopefully continue to make art, but mostly you are committing a part of yourself to this. Even as a fan, the smallest of shows has a chance to inspire you and change you and shape you into a person you maybe didn’t know you were, or a person you didn’t know you could be.

There is one last chance to catch Datagun (see below) and you should. And you should love them and get attached to them and listen to them, because even if they aren’t making new music, they still have one last opportunity to play a role in your life. Or at the very least, you should go because they’re awesome, it’s a great show and you will have a good time.

Try Not To Miss Shows – 6/28 – July 4

Datagun w/ Love Songs For Lonely Monsters and Olsen Twinns – Vaudeville Mews June 29 930pm

So here is the show. Go to it. Love it. It will be amazing.

Superchief w/ Fatal Addiction, The Maw and Kingmoon Razor – Wooly’s June 29 9pm

Superchief are awesome and loud. Do you like loud rock and roll? Don’t miss this one.

Still Flyin’ w/ Mantis Pincers and Pink Kodiak – Vaudeville Mews June 30 930pm

Hey, it’s the Mantis Pincers, another band you should catch while you still have the chance. Oh, and Pink Kodiak, who I did not forget.

Bright Giant w/ Love Songs For Lonely Monsters and The Olympics – Gas Lamp June 30 8pm

A chance to see a couple of 80/35 bands before the festival.

Gentleman Savage, Unknown Component, Diamonds For Eyes, Rebel Creek – Wooly’s June 30 9pm

A free show featuring four awesome acts.

80/35 Song of the Day-ish – Leslie and the Lys – Hydrate Jirate (But Mostly an Essay On An Unrelated Topic)

In case you weren’t around for GDP, this will be my somewhat daily feature where I talk about one song from an 80/35 act to get you pumped up for the festival. This year, the festival is Friday and Saturday July 6 and July 7 in Western Gateway Park. Visit 80-35.com for more info and Midwestix for ticket info.

(So very sorry for not being around for the last couple of days, er, well, weeks. Just, sorry, I guess. Also, sorry to Leslie, but I don’t really have much to say right now about the song. Its great and I like Leslie a great deal, but I just haven’t been all that fired up lately. So, I’m going to talk about something else. Watch the video, buy your 80-35 ticket, go party.)

My oldest friend is a man by the name of Eric Runyan. Many of you may know him. He is the current and reigning King of Indianola. He is loud and obnoxious. He has a severe and almost despicable fascination with Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant, The Pittsburgh Steelers and Duke Basketball. But, he’s my friend all the same. We aren’t as close as we used to be, which is unfortunate. Even though we have drifted apart, he was in my wedding and he was there the day after my daughter was born. I think we all have a friend like that, just someone in you back pocket that you know you can count on even though it has been years since you hung out regularly.

He, however, is responsible for a stupid superstition that I still follow all these years later. If you drive over railroad tracks, you have to lift your feet. It actually started on our bikes, as we would lift our feet off the pedals anytime we rode over the un-gated tracks in the industrial part of Indianola, risking life, limb and torn jean cuffs in order to make sure we followed it to the letter each time. It continued on as he drove several us to school with his school permit in his 1983 Toyota Tercel as we listened to his one cassingle (Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) through a Montgomery Ward brand Walkman and portable speakers (his dash stereo was non-functional) and scraped ice off his windows as we drove (as was his defrost). It even continued through his Fast and Furious faze as he drove his Cavalier 90 mph around corners and darted in and out of traffic. It continues for me as I drive my daughter in our economical Hyundai as I’m sure it continues for him as well.

The thing is, we really had no idea why we would do it other than “bad luck”. That was it. No specifics; just bad luck. It is the same reason I don’t walk under ladders or break mirrors or about a million other random superstitions. It is the same reason I forwarded chain letters when I was 16 from my AOL account. The same reason why I have an almost Turk Wendell-ian amount of superstitions for when I play hockey. I don’t know why, other than “bad luck”.

The kicker out of all this is my luck, in a traditional sense, is terrible. I am not a good gambler, I’ve never really won anything despite being at least above mediocre at card games. I don’t win raffles or contests. Hell, even in two decades of hockey I only have three medals (and only one gold) in any league or tournament I have ever been a part of. So, it’s not like all this random ass shit I used to do, like three laps clockwise, three counter clockwise, wrist shot to the right post, wrist shot to the left to start each warm-up or not wearing socks, ever really mattered. In fact, the only tournament I ever won was the one I had pneumonia, so I probably didn’t go through all the rituals just due to exhaustion and fever.

Today, I find myself with a personal mantra of “Why can’t I get a break?” I seem to chant it to myself all the time. I guess I don’t know what break I am looking for, but as I sit here with a job I hate and an overdrawn bank account, I wonder to myself “Where is all of my luck?” After all of these years of following strict superstitions, and well, here we are.

It dawned on me on my drive home last night from said job. I crossed the tracks at 100th and Douglas in Urbandale and lifted my feet, just like always. Then I started to think about all the crap I do that has gotten me nowhere in life. All the crap that I have done that has attributed to this shitty outlook I have right now, or at the very least done nothing to dissuade it. It was all worthless junk carried on by someone with a possible mental disorder. I followed all the rules; now, where’s my luck?

But then I thought a little deeper about it. I realized that maybe all the shit I have in my life that I love is the good luck. Maybe my reward for lifting my feet over railroad tracks is having a great family with a loving wife and kick-ass kid, but also my huge extended family and friends. Maybe the crap I did before every hockey game wasn’t to help win hockey games, but to make sure I have a roof and food, even if my bank account may be more than empty. Maybe the reason I lifted my feet at every railroad crossing with Eric Runyan was so I could have an Eric Runyan (or any one of the great people in my life) in my life.

I need to accept that luck, in and of itself, isn’t going to bail me out of my list of problems. I guess while I will keep doing the superstitions I grew up with, I have to realize what they got me and not lament what they haven’t. As for the shit I don’t have that’s ruining me right now, well, I guess I better just get my ass in gear, eh? Luck is great, but hard work is better.

This Week @ … Ames Tribune!?

One more quick thing, I helped write an article for an actual print newspaper. I have gone legitimate. Head here to read about my 10 favorite local music websites.

Don’t Treat Me Bad – Help Des Moines Social Club Secure the Fire House (Plus Some Links)

The DMSC Sirens. Get it? (Photo by the always incredible Joe Crimmings)

You see, they make puns about sirens and fire and such. I make them about glam metal bands.

When I first got involved with the Des Moines Social Club back in 2008, I really didn’t know what I was in for or what I exactly intended to do. I kind of did it just because my sister told me to, and to be honest, I am always trying to impress my sister. There are few people I look up to as much as her, and none I look up to more. In my years volunteering with them (unfortunately, much less than I used to) I have gotten to book some of my favorite bands in the world. I got to be on the ground floor of some of Des Moines’ most buzzed about bands like Christopher the Conquered, Mumford’s, Maxilla Blue, Rebel Creek, Nuclear Rodeo and so many more. I got to expand my knowledge of what it takes to be a promoter, a manager and a fan. I got to make playlists to play in a bar and argue with people over how appropriate it was to play Metallica’s “Battery” or Minor Threat in mixed company (many say it is inappropriate, including people like bar owners who’d like people to stick around and drink. I say if that drives them away, I don’t want them anyway. I lost that battle.)

But outside of the music, I also got to act in a play. I got exposed to some of Des Moines’ best visual artists and finally understood that art wasn’t just paintings of stuff. I got to play and excel at trivia and have fun with strangers who soon became friends (and eventually help write questions and host and occasionally curse at a large group of people over a microphone) I got to be at least tangibly involved with a professional wrestling group (I kind of still regret the day I turned down the chance to help write their storylines; a chance I only turned down because I was embarrassed at how much I had to drink the night I spouted off with storyline ideas). I helped build a set out of old album covers and the most moldy plywood ever in Des Moines dirtiest building. I also got to load up sandbags in a freezing thunderstorm and push a one wheeled popcorn cart (even though it should have had two) from the Court Avenue Bridge to 4th and Walnut at 2am through drunken guys in Affliction shirts and past about 45 J-Woww clones. I think I liked both of those things more than acting.

But here is the most important thing about DMSC. I learned a lot about various art, but I mostly learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of. I still have a long way to go, but I wouldn’t be as far along now if it weren’t for them. I also have made life long friends and family. People that I know and love and trust. Even though I was the most novice person there, I was never excluded or made to feel stupid. I was encouraged and pushed and loved, in return. Zack Mannheimer always likes to tell about how he found Des Moines to be the best city for his vision. For me, it was his vision that helped me find Des Moines, or at least the Des Moines I never knew actually existed. This Des Moines, in turn, helped me find myself. I fell in love with my hometown, and it loves me back. And that is pretty awesome.

This is why we need DMSC. We need it to help more people who don’t know what they’re looking for, but they know they’re looking for something. We need DMSC to help them find it.

Head here for an impassioned plea from Zack with what you can do to help DMSC on its next step. Please read it and do all you can to help.

Here are some other links:

I wrote about the new Hanwell Album Sweethearts of the 66 over at Des Moines Is Not Boring. This link also has a huge list of shows you should check out this weekend including Leslie and the Lys, Ladysoal, Utopia Park, Trouble Lights, Gospel Music, Seed of Something, prettygirlhatemachine, Aeon Grey and much much much much more. Oh, so much more.

Here is an event I want to single out. It is an awesome show with focus on and in celebration of many LGBT artists and supporters. Included are Olsen Twinns, Vaj of Courage, Shady At Best and Vill. All proceeds go to One Iowa. Click the link for more info.

In lieu of an actual 80/35 Song of the Day-ish, why not go back and check out some I did for GDP artists who are also playing 80/35 like Love Songs For Lonely Monsters, Christopher the Conquered and His Black Gold Brass Band and Mumford’s (who awesomely get to open for Jimmy Cliff this Tuesday at Simon Estes).

So yeah, stuff to do, stuff to read, but most importantly something to get involved with and actually be a part of.

80/35 Song of the Day-ish – Seedlings – Between Us

Seedlings opened for Barack Obama. That’s the actual POTUS, not the name of some new dubstep group. (from their Facebook page)

In case you weren’t around for GDP, this will be my somewhat daily feature where I talk about one song from an 80/35 act to get you pumped up for the festival. This year, the festival is Friday and Saturday July 6 and July 7 in Western Gateway Park. Visit 80-35.com for more info and Midwestix for ticket info.

I actually remember the first time I heard Seedlings. It was 2009 and the Vaudeville Mews hosted a fundraiser for Youth and Services Shelter, Inc., a non-profit close to my wife’s heart and career. I went because The Envy Corps were playing. Also, for the children, because much like Wu Tang Clan, I’m for the children.

There are a lot things I remember about that night. As it turned out, it was kind of an important night for our family (I will spare you the details as to why that is), so there are a ton of things that stick out. It was Miracle on Ice Day, the anniversary of when the 1980 US Men’s Hockey Team beat the Russians. You may think that is a random event to remember, however in my house, February 22 is a sacred, national holiday. So yeah, I remember.

Also, the Oscars were on that night, and even though it has been over a decade since I would describe myself as any sort of cinephile and many years since I even paid attention to movies (I still blow people’s minds at work when I tell them I have yet to see a single Iron Man or Avatar, and yet I somehow saw Let’s Go To Prison in the theater, but I’m digressing), we still watch the Oscars with regularity. Mostly for the dead people montage. So, missing out on part of the ceremony was shocking to me, and I was kind of checking my watch all night to see if the show was going to end in time for us to get back and watch the In Memoriam and who would get the most applause (Paul Newman was the clear winner, both at the event and in our house).

I also remember it was the first time I had ever met Poison Control Center lead singer Patrick Tape Fleming. I remember being super nervous about talking to him. I wanted to try and book him for a fundraiser for the Des Moines Social Club, and well, I suck at networking. Even after three years, lots of events, many new people met, thousands of emails sent, random dinner and now birthday parties and just straight up introductions later and I’m still terrible at it. So, I did what any normal person would do; I drank heavily and then introduced myself. Knowing what I know now, and how awesome a person Patrick is, well, it probably wasn’t necessary. Oh, and PCC played that DMSC event and they were awesome, as per usual.

But I also remember Seedlings. To be fair though, I don’t remember everything about them, I can’t remember if it was a duo or a trio that night, but I know they weren’t a full band just yet. Or maybe there were four. I think there were three. But, I remember the sound and thinking it was really pretty and harmonious. I remember thinking they were a pure folk band, and that this was a band that we would hear from again, but to be honest, I didn’t really listen to a lot of their work but a track here and there or part of a set on occasion. But their name has always been synonymous with that night, so I’ve always held them in high regard.

Fast forward three years and here we are. I still don’t watch movies, I still suck at networking and I’m still kind of intimidated by Patrick Tape Fleming because of how great of an artist he is, even though he is one of the top two or three nicest people I have ever met. Seedlings, however, have grown exponentially as artists. This song, “Between Us”, is incredible.

In their bio, they describe themselves as “A group of friends who really, really like playing music together” and you can really, really tell. There is just a radiance of love coming from the track that you can tell isn’t forced. They all just seem to be telling a love story with the notes they play as much as it is lyrically. It is hard not to get swept up in the emotion. I have yet to listen to the song with a straight face. I even tried one time, but by the first chorus I had a silly little grin.

So yeah, when I said these play-in bands were all legit, it meant it. But it wasn’t until I reacquainted myself with Seedlings that I realized just how true that statement is.

Seedlings play a show tonight at 9pm at Gas Lamp. Alongside Shaun Huston and Dustin Harmsen, the open for the great Christopher the Conquered. Head to Gaslampdsm.com for more info.

Author’s Note: In arguably the meanest thing anyone has ever done to me, Seedlings released a new video roughly an hour after I finished writing this (yes, I wrote it last night). So, now I am behind the times. I could’ve been the first to review the new song, but noooooooooo. Here is the video, presented without comment. Okay, one comment. It is great. But I ain’t changing the title to “Songs”.

Two Great Shows at Gas Lamp This Week!

Posters by the always incredible Van Holmgren

My friend called me out in the comments the other day for forgetting about The Gas Lamp and, well, he’s right. I honestly do sometimes forget to check Gas Lamp’s page. To be fair, I forget to check Wooly’s a lot, too. Heck, I almost always forget to check the Des Moines Social Club, and I was kind of the guy in charge of music there for a long time and I guess still sort of am. I guess it is just a familiarity thing. I spent my whole life going to Vaudeville Mews for my music needs, that I kind of just head there first. I am also very lazy so sometimes I go to Mews’ website and there are like four shows that I think are great, so assuming that’s good enough I dust off my hands and hit send and call it a day. But yeah, there was not excuse for me not to cover Daymoths and Guitar Wolf. That’s just lunacy.

Here is my pledge to you guys. I will never stop being lazy. I will, however, try to be less lazy. I will start checking Gas Lamp’s (and Wooly’s and DMSC’s) website a little bit more frequently when I do these posts and I will try to include ALL of the shows I find interesting, not just enough to fill some imaginary quota.

Anyway, tonight at 7pm is the jazz pop band Lake Street Dive. I listened to a little bit today and they’re a smooth jazz quartet who do a lot of cool modern tracks. It is a sound that I usually don’t immerse myself in, but I really liked the few songs that I listened to. Vocally, there is a bit of a Fiona Apple or PJ Harvey quality to it, and I love me some Polly Jean.

Opening for them are the awesome Diamonds for Eyes. Hey remember when I said I was going to be less lazy? That means I will continue to be somewhat lazy, so here is a review I wrote for their album last year. This should be a cool relaxed show and well worth your time.

Tomorrow is the always amazing Christopher the Conquered and His Black Gold Brass Band. I don’t really feel like I need to do much more to hype this one up than I have for pretty much the entirety of this blog’s existence. But anyway, go to this. It also has Seedlings, who just opened for President Barack Obama, so you know, no big deal or anything. Also, Sean Huston and the great Dustin Harmsen. 9pm for this one.

80/35 Song of the Day-ish – Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires – It Shines

In case you weren’t around for GDP, this will be my somewhat daily feature where I talk about one song from an 80/35 act to get you pumped up for the festival. This year, the festival is Friday and Saturday July 6 and July 7 in Western Gateway Park. Visit 80-35.com for more info and Midwestix for ticket info.

Yesterday, I said Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires were a little classic rock. I realize later that it may have been a poor choice of words. Now while I don’t exactly mean that in a sort of Boston or Aerosmith way, I guess it rings a little closer to the Sun Records era of rock. It is classic rock in a timeless, almost primitive sense. The rhythm and story all feels familiar, like you should be able to put your finger directly on what the sound is.

Yet, there is something kind of contemporary about it. It is so quick all the time, and the lyrics feels like a Johnny Cash tale, but sped up a bit to fit in with our everyone in a hurry society. It seems rooted in the same rockabilly meets punk rock that Social Distortion singer Mike Ness likes to do on his solo projects or if a punk band were to take on a traditional folk song. That seems to give it a little less old time vibe.

The most unique part of it, though, is Lambert’s voice. A couple of tweaks and I think it could be country-western, but it never quite slips into a full on twang. It also reminds me a bit of Tom Morello as The Nightwatchman. I adore this song and have since the first time I heard it. It is timeless.