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 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 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”.

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 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.

This Week @ Des Moines Is Not Boring

This week, I do a little jibber-jabber about the great Lesbian Poetry and mostly confirm that sometimes I just don’t pay attention.

So, what else do you guys want to talk about?

Lots of cool shows this weekend, so I will have a post up later today to tell you what they are. Aren’t I sweet?

This Week @ Des Moines is Not Boring

Hi. You’re looking well. I’ve missed you.

New review over at Des Moines Is Not Boring. I talk about Roxi Copland’s new album Pretty Lies. It is a pretty interesting album in that it is just a pretty voice and keys. It kind of sounds like one of those nights where you go into a random bar and it is just a singer and a keyboard. You kind of ignore them while you sip your drink and talk to your friends about, I dunno, American Idol or old high school stories or sports or whatever. Then every once in a while there is a lull in the conversation and you stop to listen and realize the singer is actually pretty good, but you kind of go back into your world even though she never stopped being awesome. This is the album version of if you would just shut up and just listen and stop thinking about yourself so damned much and just paid attention to the art around you and appreciate the beauty you have available.

Anyway, that made sense in my head.

Go here to read my review.

Oh, this is the last week to vote on the 80/35 play in semi finalists. All the sets have been long posted, so you have no excuse to go listen and then make an educated vote, if you haven’t already. Isn’t an informed populace much better than a popularity contest? I know a girl who voted for Bush over Gore because she thought Bush was cuter. Don’t be that girl. Be smart. Head this way to listen and vote.

Quintron and Miss Pussycat w/ Utopia Park and others – Tonight at Vaudeville Mews!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Organ music. Sweat. Puppets. Dancing. Maracas. Geniuses.

There, I just summed up why you have to go to tonight’s show. I don’t think I need to say anything else to get you to go to tonight’s Quintron and Miss Pussycat show at Vaudeville Mews. This is such an interesting and unique show that you really should go out of your way to get to it. Quintron is such a genius producer/organ player that it is an impossible not to dance to. Making his name in New Orleans, Quintron uses a lot of that New Orleans style to make music a wholly unique electronic music experience. If it wasn’t enough that the music itself is unlike anything else in the world, his co-collaborator and wife Miss Pussycat has a unique voice and is also a master puppeteer, which gets incorporated into their live show.

As if that weren’t enough, joining them on this show is Fairfield’s Utopia Park. The genius Rabalais brothers, Philip and Dominic, are also members of some of Iowa’s best acts like Surgery, Little Ruckus, Trouble Lights and the outstanding new group Animal (seriously, give this a listen. I will be talking about this at length soon). Together, though, they make some of the loudest most chaotic electronic dance punk you will ever hear. Philip’s production and Dom’s hurricane stage presence allows them to be two of the most interesting and talented musicians you will ever come across.

Also playing tonight are We Shave and The Whether Report. $10 and an 8pm start. 21+. Get there.

Today @ Des Moines Is Not Boring

Today I talk about In Rooms and also break my friend Chris’ rule about telling my audience I’m an idiot. So, I’m not an idiot, I am bright and intelligent. It was just a gimmick for the column. Damage contained.

Oh, go here to read it.

While I Was Out…

I am 31 years old. That seems ancient to me at times, but still young at others. I still have some of my youthful exuberance and occasional bouts of irresponsibility, but I also know that with a young daughter and wife, I have to start thinking about the future. I suck at money, both making it and keeping it, and that seems to be a bit of a problem. I need more education, but I feel like I don’t have the time to actually do it. (excuses and assholes and all that…)

My day job is retail management, which is a job I can do and do well. I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about it or anything, but I can do it. (Off topic, but do you want to get money back on your purchases at Sports Authority? Then see me about signing up for The League, a free rewards program that gives you 5% back on every $100 you spend. This is a free service and you’d be silly not to sign up. All I need is a name, email address and phone number) But I am getting closer and closer to where I need to decide if that is what I’m going to do to take care of my family and actually commit to it or if I am going to do something else. If the latter is the case, then I need to figure out what that other thing is.

Anyway, all that crap is just a way to say the weight of the world was pushing me down a bit this last week and I honestly didn’t have the motivation to write. Shitty excuse and not something I am proud of, I know, but y’all deserve the truth.

Oh, and I got a new video game, so that’s taken up some of my time.

So, while I took a brief mental health vacation, here is some stuff I probably would’ve talked about:

-Semi-finalists for the 80/35 play-in were announced. These are local acts that play a Battle of the Bands in order to get a main stage spot at 80/35, and there is a ton of talent. Here is the list:

The White Elephant
The Beat Strings
The Wire Frames
Love Songs for Lonely Monsters
Emperors Club
Holy White Hounds

I can’t decide who I want to win. To be honest, it is encouraging that this year’s 80/35 is so good, that bands of this caliber aren’t just automatically in. At the same time, it means that I won’t get to see all of them this year, so that sucks a little. I guess, that means less conflicts, so um, yay? Click the links and listen to the bands, and then make an informed decision on who you want to see the most this year. Then go see the others at other shows, too. Perfect plan.

-Nitefall on the River announced two more acts and they’re pretty okay. The pop stylings of 80/35 veteran Ingrid Michaelson will be at Simon Estes on July 17. She is a wonderful singer-songwriter and a has a beautiful voice.

Oh, and on August 21, Andrew Bird.


Sorry, I am very excited. So, along with Jimmy Cliff, that makes three acts that I am so very excited to see. Well done, Nitefall. If you missed it, here is my review of Bird’s album “Break It Yourself”.

-Built to Spill at Wooly’s on 8/27. Fuck. Yes.

-Cool show tonight at Wooly’s for just $5. The synth-dance machine that is Pictureplane is coming from Denver to New York and stopping in Des Moines along with Alphabet. Oh, and Little Ruckus and Trouble Lights. You remember Trouble Lights, right? I have talked about them enough, though. Let me speak a little about Little Ruckus. Little Ruckus is awesome. The end.

– A kind of 80/35 sister festival in Omaha, Maha Music Festival announced their headliners and they’re so very cool. 90’s icons Garbage will be a the co-headliner and the Conor Oberst fronted punk band Desaparecidos will headline. Desa rarely plays, so this will be a very cool festival. Oh, and Shirley Manson.


I’m pretty sure she was my first music crush. She’s all red-haired and Scottish. Oh, to be 15 again. Wait,
no, that time pretty much sucked. The music still holds up pretty well even if the unrequited love doesn’t.

Click the link for ticket info (they’re way cheap for an all day festival of this nature, too.)

I think that’s everything I missed. Well, I know it’s not everything, but well, it’s everything enough for now. I will try to be back later in the day with some more stuff.

Your Weekend To Do List – Now With More Cats

The internet was made for cat pictures and I have two.

This is Tink. It is short for If Mandy Patinkin Was A Cat. If you get that reference you get a hundred internet points. She is fluffy and thus throws up hairballs frequently. She also still has her claws, so she can be kind of a pain in the ass. For a while, she used to do cool flips when chasing things, but now, she doesn’t.

This is Little. She was named Yoshi and Dr. Gonzo for a while, but we always just called her Little (because at the time, she was the smaller of our two cats. The other was Moosh, god rest his soul, a twenty-five pound behemoth with type 2 diabetes) and that’s what stuck. She is skittish, and kind of a biter.

These two cats can’t go to live music (unless we get HR 1343 passed, and God willing we will. We have the signatures). So you should go for them. Here are some places you should go

Bootytronic’s Electric Veishea – Friday 4/20 Union Drive on the ISU Campus, Ames

A bunch of terrific DJ’s plus Trouble Lights and Surgery. Awesome for those who are curious about Iowa’s EDM scene. Also, are you gonna see Trouble Lights, or what? I’m sick of talking about them. Just make them famous already. I’m very impatient.

Live @ The Cabin Saturday 4/21

This is kind of a random and unique show. Christopher the Conquered, The Chatty Cathys, Diamonds for Eyes, Rebel Creek and more. It is a really good lineup, if you can find it.

John Lefler w/Dustin Smith and Goatee Brothers Vaudeville Mews 4/20

John Lefler is a member of Dashboard Confessional, who are somewhat unfairly maligned. He is a gifted singer-songwriter.

Viva Montesa Vaudeville Mews 4/21

Viva Montesa is an on the rise hard rock band from Des Moines. Ground floor stuff, so get on it.

Tomorrow is also Record Store Day. Head to ZZZ on Ingersoll for lots of cool RSD stuff.


If I missed something (which is very likely because I am sleepy and wrote this in a hurry, but, you know, cats!) leave it in the comments. Follow me on Facebook, and share some stuff there, too.

GDP Song And Cop Out Post of the Day-ish – The Beatnicks – We The Best

Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner, April 14 (THIS SATURDAY) to be exact, and I thought to help promote it a little, I would feature a song from one of the bands each day-ish. I probably won’t do it everyday (or week as it turns out *sigh*), thus the -ish. For more info on GDP visit the Facebook Event Page or Des Moines Music Coalition’s website

I can’t get the damn player to embed so click here or the picture to listen to The Beatnicks.

I’m a little under the weather today, but I wanted to make sure I got the last GDP artist’s song of the day-ish posted. Here is The Beatnicks. Go here to read the write up I did for them at G’night.