Review: Courtney Krause at Exile Brewing


This is a story about her.

Courtney Krause is performing and she may also be fighting back tears. Her face etches the pain, the pride, the love and the sentiment with each note hit. Her eyes tell the story as well as, and maybe even better than, the lyrics. She strums her guitar, but frequently uses her right hand to accentuate not just the words and the story she is telling, but the gravity of it all, like a Shakespearean actor in the midst of a monologue. The stories that she tells have to come from deep within, or at minimum, she is wrecked by empathy.

Behind her, an actual storm rages and pelts the windows with rain. Winds whip, lightning illuminates, rainwater floods and thunder shakes. It’s an incredible, metaphorical backdrop to the emotion that pours from her.

Krause stands to the side of the room and sings and they politely applaud, be ultimately are unmoved. She’s the soundtrack to their dinner, the ambient noise while they go on with their life. To her, she stands and creates. She makes her art. She makes it to tell her stories and play her music.

Courtney Krause is a beautiful woman, with kind eyes that squint closed when she makes her big cheek-boned smile. Her long, brown hair flops halfway over one eye (her left, my right). She makes big gestures to match her big voice. Also, her torso does this weird thing where her heart bursts out of her chest as she sings.

She is also a beautiful spirit. She possesses rare ability as a performer and storyteller. Her songs are rich and full of life and love and loss and liberation. They’re dynamic pieces that cut through a Midwestern thunderstorm to tug at the audience and the listener.

I just wish there were more listeners.


This is also a story about them.

Behind me, two professional women in their early 30’s discuss marketing and SEO strategy between glances at their phones. To my right, a  youngish couple are having a seemingly pleasant date. Next to them, a group of people are celebrating a softball victory with beers. To my left, a group of four middle aged women order white wine at a brewery and multiple appetizers, clanging their plates to the table absentmindedly (the same group of women also stole my table as I went to the bathroom, despite a full beer and my phone still sitting there, but I digress). There are others. They have dinner, or watch Olympic swimming or post selfies to their Instas and Snaps.

There are people listening and people who care, friends mainly, but it is baffling to me that there stands a woman releasing everything she has in four to five minute bursts, all while the outside world behind her threatens to destroy us all, and it doesn’t deter the people who just want to make small talk and ducklips for their twenty-five hundred Instagram followers.

What surprises me more is that it doesn’t deter Krause. Beyond the emotion and the empathy and the beauty, there is one startling characteristic that shines through: confidence. It is the confidence to play for a room half paying attention and still unleash yourself. It is confidence that allows her to be her true self whether it’s a crowd of four-thousand or a crowd of fourteen, nine of which aren’t paying attention. Why they’re not paying attention is still beyond me. Here, a woman aches and yearns and sets herself free, and social media and buffalo chicken bites and keyword searches and Jason going 5 for 6 with two home runs all matter more.

Even Krause knows this. She tells me that she signs on to these gigs to be the atmosphere. To get something fresh instead of the latest episode of Sportscenter or the corporate Top 40 Muzak that normally fills the beer hall. It’s a chance for exposure, but it’s just a gig.

I wonder why more people choose not to care.


This is actually a story about me.

I haven’t been a very good writer lately. I mean it both literally and in a more prolific sense. I have been fighting depression, anxiety, insomnia, poverty, regret, sadness and depression (yeah, I said it twice). I have now been out of work since my breakdown and trip to the hospital in late-April. I have done a less than admiral job looking for employment. I have had a couple of leads on making writing about music and other things my full-time job, but I just can’t pull the trigger. I have refused therapy out of fear and laziness despite the urging of all of the people who care about me most.

The night of Krause’s set at Exile, I received news that a job I was angling for had gone to someone else. Someone else talented, more experienced and less fragile. Maybe even a job I wanted no part, so I never really stood a chance. Regardless, it went to someone else. It hurt.

I packed up my computer and went to a bar, determined to right the ship, right then and there. I opened my resume. I did nothing. I stared at a blinking cursor. I opened up a new blog post. I wrote a title. Then I stared at the blinking cursor. I drank beer. I opened Facebook. I drank more beer. Still nothing. I drank more beer. My computer’s battery died. I accomplished nothing.

I wasn’t ready to go home and face my family; to look my 3-year old son and 6-year old daughter in their perfect faces and admit Daddy was a failure. So, I decided to go to Exile and catch a singer I liked sing some songs. I wasn’t ready for my muse, but she was ready for me.


This is a story about all of us.

I sat and I watched and I sipped my Peach-Strawberry Bohemian, a fruity and sour beer that puckered my cheeks and politely assaulted my taste buds like a friendly dominatrix. I watched as she emoted. I watched as they ignored. I watched as her friends clapped and hugged and wooed and took pictures.

I also watched the room as they talked to their friends. As they smiled and laughed and ate and drank. I watched as they were happy. I watched as they devoured lamb sliders and fried something or other.

I watched as she sang and wrecked herself, then finished her song and smiled shyly. I watched as she ran her fingers through her hair and talked, saying words that I couldn’t make out due to the noise in the rest of the bar, but words that changed her demeanor from emotional wreck to pleased artist.

What I watched were people being happy. I watched as a gifted artist plied her trade. I watched as proud friends relished in their friend’s ability. I watched as other groups of friends took pictures of each other, or busted a guy’s balls about a base running mistake. I watched as a guy sipped his beer and pumped his fist at another American gold medal. I watched a young couple look into each other’s eyes, deeply.

I realized that none of the people in that room wanted to be anywhere else, except me. Krause didn’t mind if people listened or didn’t, her art was for her. The groups of friends wanted to be there for each other. The couple on a date wanted to enjoy their love. The man watching the Olympics just wanted a moment to himself.

I wanted to race home and document this. I wanted to jot down my feelings. I wanted to write. I wanted to fix me.

I could no longer feel grief towards those who chose not to pay attention. I could no longer feel sorrow for Krause, who I now realized was, sure, performing for her friends, but mainly it was for herself. I no longer saw writing as a chore that needed to appeal to other people. I saw it as a way to be me.

I saw the things that made me happy. The things that I loved. I saw my wife, my children, my family and I saw my art. The work that made me happy, not the work that made me money. I saw my art as mine again.

In those people, I saw happiness. Something I am desperate to reclaim, for all of those people who count on me, believe in me and love me. But ultimately, for me.

This was a story about her, me, them and us.

Review: The Maytags – Love Lines

Love Lines

Last week, I went to a neighborhood get together in a park. There was beer and food trucks and lawn chairs and people meeting their neighbors. There was also a stage with music being played. These type of events aren’t always the best for those who came to listen to the music, as most people tend to look at the music as a necessary bit of background noise while they chat and drink and their kids play tag and frisbee.

One of the bands that played the event was the soul/pop outfit The Maytags. They were perfect for this type of event because they’re so talented and yet, so non-confrontational. They play music that mixes old-school soul and jazz, traditional show bands and modern pop. Lead singer Dustin Smith uses his Southern style sweet grovel in front of a band that (to borrow a phrase from The Blues Brothers (which is a great comparison really)) is powerful enough to turn goat piss in to gasoline. They’re smooth, tender, powerful and fun.

They’re also the type of band you can play as the soundtrack of your life. They type of band you can throw on in the background at a family barbecue and there won’t be a single complaint. They are also good enough, that if you really pay attention, you are rewarded with strong songwriting and incredible music.

Their new album, Love Lines, is a perfect mix of all the things that make The Maytags great. Songs like “Business Trip” and “Marry Me” have made their way into permanent setlist staples. They also showcase a silken style that can evoke emotions and sweaty dance floors.

Their made for outdoors and for the club stage, for the chill atmosphere of a block party and the heat of a big festival. They’re fun, easy to listen to and gifted. The Maytags can easily usurp the position of Iowas premier party band, but they are also so much more that that.

Catch The Maytags tonight (7/29) at Wooly’s and pick up a copy of the album there. 

Like I Hold On – 2016 80/35 Music Festival


See the man in the Stars and Stripes? His name is John Kirsch. To most 80/35 veterans, he’s a staple. For the last few years he and his partner, Wanda Findley, put on their patriotic best and got wild in the streets. They danced and sweated and smiled and took pictures with all the people who asked, whether they were the hyper-positive jam band hippies, the disaffected teenage hipsters,pretty girls in crop tops and flower crowns, whomever. They were a burst of joy whenever you happened by them and they transcended the cliques and the genres and the ages.

In April, Wanda, along with her friend Peggy Rinehart, were killed in a car accident. Wanda was 81. Those of us in the community were a little bit shaken. While we can’t all say we were friends or we were family, they were evidence of love and joy. My heart ached for a man I had never really met and a family that I never once broke bread.

It’s simple really, Des Moines is my city. It’s the place my wife and I raise our family. Where my sisters, my nieces and my nephew and my closest friends live. People who I consider brothers and sisters all reside here. Some of the best art I have ever witnessed and experienced is here. It’s a place that I can recommend a restaurant, a bar, a shop for anyone who asks. It’s a place I can walk the streets at night and not fear and a place I can just sit and think and be.

But 80/35, 80/35 is my home. It’s two days in the sun with thousands of family members. They’re all there for different reasons, but the fact is it exists and can bring people together to enjoy music and to enjoy our city. To lose a part of that, meant a great deal to me.

A couple of months ago, I lost a lot of things. I had a mental collapse that sent me to the hospital. It cost me my job, it cost me a solid salary in a good company and stability for the first time in my family’s life. It’s cost me nights of sleep. It’s hurt relationships. It’s caused me to lash out. What I lost the most, though, was me.

I sit on my couch all day stabbing at my cell phone. The idea of finding a new job is devastating. I am working my way through potential freelance opportunities, but I’m scared. I’m so scared.

At 80/35, though I’m me again. The sun kisses me, no matter how hot the temperature hits. People I sometimes see only once a year sneak up behind and give bear hugs so tight they lift me off the ground. The beer is ice cold and they even have my brand of whiskey. When my feet get sore, there’s a stream to soak them. When my children get restless, there’s a bounce house to wear them out. When my stomach growls, there are tacos. When I get sick of the sun’s kisses, there’s a tent or a tree or a building or a lobby  we can sneak into with the coldest air in town. When I want to just chill and ignore a jam band, there is more beer and more tacos.


Ravyn Lenae

Mostly, though, there is music. There are new discoveries, like the stunningly gifted Ravyn Lenae. There’s a chance to stand with headbanging kids in black sleeveless shirts while getting my ear drums destroyed by Druids. There is the confirmation of everything I knew to be wonderful from Dilly Dally. There are moments of pride, like the Holy White Hounds’ triumphant homecoming, fresh off their tour and there are moments of joy like Goldblums destroying their set in 2 minute bursts to a who’s who audience. There were even moments of surprise, like Craig Finn playing a wooden stage in an alley with just an acoustic guitar and that voice.


Black Lips

There were also Black Lips. For roughly six years, when asked which band I wanted to play 80/35, my answer was always the same: Black Lips. Their brand of juvenile antics and garage music was perfect for 80/35. Sometimes, when you want something bad enough, it happens. Sometimes that thing becomes a disappointment. Sometimes it’s so wonderful, you find yourself crying to a punk rock song that I’m pretty sure is about sex because you love it and your daughter loves it (she doesn’t think it’s about sex) and it’s perfect. It’s just perfect.

Black Lips’ set was 45 minutes of sweat, tears and vomit. They played a history spanning set that closed with the spiritual inspired “Bow Down and Die” from their Almighty Defenders side project. It was the emotional release I needed. I cried. I laughed. I smiled. For a brief moment, I was me again.



I sit around a lot and think and it makes me very insular. I am home with my children everyday, but I mostly sit and I think. I think about what’s wrong with me and how I can change. I sit and worry about about the damage I’m doing to my wife and my children. Mainly I think about me and how I can be better, and why I’m not being better.

At 80/35, I am part of something. I am experiencing these great bands and this great music with others, together. Whether I met them moments before or if I’ve known them for years, we’re in this together. We make jokes and we talk about bands we’ve seen. Sometimes, we make asses of ourselves, like when I ran into a friend and I pretended I had listened to a set he had done, only I lied and hadn’t actually listened to it. Then I got caught in that lie and felt really embarrassed. It’s the type of things you do with family. You laugh and you have a good time and you make mistakes and you enjoy each other’s company even while making those mistakes. I matter. We matter.


Craig Finn

At the end of night one, I wandered down to two different after-shows. I was there for the music, but I guess I was there for the camaraderie. While there were some friends and acquaintances, it just didn’t feel the same as it did while we were all outdoors, so I left earlier than expected. I walked the six blocks back to the festival grounds, where the late night DJ’s were spinning.

The bass thumped and the lights flashed and I shook my head at the madness and the sweaty, tangled bodies. I hopped over to the far sidewalk to get past the crowd and just to the right of the stage, there he was.

He was decked out in his best American flag jumpsuit and trademark white hat. He was dancing with a buxom, mid-twenties blonde. She was giggling and twirling and he busted out his best moves.

I stood away from her friends who were shouting things like “Yeah, get it girl!” John’s smile beamed. She kissed him on the cheek and he spun her back to her friends and went back to dancing, by himself.

I walked over to him, arms outstretched. He grabbed me around the waist and I draped my arms on his shoulders. I hugged him tight. He leaned his sweaty face towards my ear and said, “I love you.” I cried on his shoulder for a couple of seconds, but we were separated by a girl a quarter of his age in a mini-skirt and a purple bra. John smiled and the two danced and I walked away.

I felt sorrow for him. I felt joy for him. I felt for him.

Because he is 80/35 and he is family and this is my home.

All pictures taken by me. They first appeared on the 80/35 Twitter page.

Review Mega Postamaniapaloozaopolis Vol 3 (Featuring Goldblums! MAIDS! Karen Meat (Sort of)! Green Death!)



Goldblums (4pm – Saturday – Nationwide Stage) – Gnat Bones

I dunno. I don’t have much more to say since the last time I wrote about them. I just like Goldblums and so should you. Besides, I needed to get to four 80/35 bands, and I didn’t want to review a jamband and I’m already kind of cheating. Deal with it.

Plus, they like wrestling and I felt like using a header pic of Dusty Rhodes. Why you gotta be a dick about it? Sue me, then. Start your own blog if you don’t like how I do things. No, YOU’RE being a jerk. Look, I’m not beholden to any sort of structure rules. I can review things however I please. Really though, start your own blog. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun. Fine, don’t then. See if I care. I’m just saying you’re smart and people will be interested in what you have to say. Let’s just stop fighting. Bros? Bros.

Anyway, this is a pretty good tape.


MAIDS (7pm – Saturday – Nationwide Stage) – These Days

You know who hates disco? People who are beholden to one genre. People unwilling to just dance and have fun. Bad people. People who don’t use their turn signals. People who manually retweet. People who pee on the floor of public restrooms and demand their food be cooked a certain way. People who use the phrases “butthurt” and “cuck”. People who vote for Trump.

These Days is pure disco, man. Just a fun danceable five songs that make a person bob their head and tap their foot. Put them in a crowd, they might dance. Put them in a crowd with a drink in their hand and they will dance. That’s rad to me. To make pretty music and make people dance is a really cool way to live.

Even if you aren’t into dancing, there is a lot to like here. Mickey Davis’s synth and electronic work is superb. Danny Heggen has a really sweet voice that matches the music harmoniously. “Takes a Little Magic” might be a perfect pop song. It’s nearly five minutes of vocal effects, synth work, layering and just pure joy.

There is a place in the world for this. It needs to exist and it needs to be experienced and if you don’t like disco then maybe you’re the problem.

Karen Meat and the Computer (After Show) – On the Couch

Okay, I’m not actually going to review that. At least, not yet.

I just want an excuse to list all of the 80/35 after shows, so y’all know what’s up. There are a ton of great options for people who don’t want their fun to end after Nas or The Decemberists.

First off, the Kum and Go stage has their usual collection of local EDM, so if you’re just looking to dance it out a bit, head down to 10th st.

Now for the venues. The closest to the festival grounds is likely the new jazz bar, Noce. On Friday they offer a cool down party featuring the big voiced Adrien Logsdon of Trouble Lights.

Very near the festival is Gas Lamp. There’s a pre-party on Thursday sponsored by Lagunitas, although I dunno what bands are playing because I am a suck-ass journalist (editor’s note: Soul Phlegm!). On Friday they also have a huge voiced singer, Bonne Finken along with the debut of Parks Davis and Palavers, the new project from the mind behind Bright Giant and Josh Davis Band. On Saturday there’s Halfloves (formerly The Olympics from Iowa City), MAIDS and SIRES.

Vaudeville Mews has local supergroup Mantis Pincers and Gloom Balloon on Friday and Colleen Green and Karen Meat on Saturday. They’re both free and also where I’ll be.

Wooly’s is hosting The Uniphonics for those who are into the jam side of 80/35 on Friday and Canby on Saturday.

Over at the Des Moines Social Club, they have a rad pre-show with Dressy Bessy, The Blendours and Greg Wheeler and The Polygamist Mall Cops. After shows are pretty stacked, too with a DJ Set from Ross Clark of St. Lucia on Friday and Amasa Hines and Extravision on Saturday.

I’m sure there’s more, but holy shit is that a heck of a lineup. Have fun choosing.


Green Death (8:15 – Saturday – Nationwide Stage) – Manufacturing Evil

I was talking with my friend a while back about metal music. The theory I came up with is metal is so aggressive and often so brutal that it is hard to just ignore. Like, if you don’t like rap or country or pop, they’re often low key enough that you can ignore them. However, if someone puts Slayer on in the background of a party or a bar or whatever, you notice. If you’re not a fan, you’re actively paying attention to something you don’t enjoy because it forces you to pay attention.

I think that’s why 80/35 avoided metal acts for so long. A lot of what makes 80/35 great is simply giving people something to do. You wander downtown. Maybe you set up a lawn chair by a free stage or in the grass at the main stage, and you can have a nice day. If there is something that isn’t for you, it usually isn’t too rough that you can’t just tune it out. Some people don’t like to travel from stage to stage. They like to camp and just have a nice day.

By throwing in metal acts, you run the risk of annoying people. I don’t want people to be annoyed. Back in 2009, I actually promoted a metal show inside the Des Moines Social Club during the festival itself while the DMSC was part of the festival grounds. Hell, one of the free stages was in the parking lot, even. I wanted people to have the option of seeing heavier music, but I wanted them to know what they were getting into. I didn’t want them to camp and then suddenly get smacked in the mouth by blood and guts.

As a proponent of 80/35 and an all around worrywart, I don’t want someone to be turned off by a musical style they don’t enjoy. Now, as a person who thinks people need to hear something and open their mind, I’m super glad Green Death and Druids have spots on this year’s festival. I just hope it doesn’t sour someone too persnickety to just walk to a different stage.

I really hope that people take the time to listen to Druids and Green Death, because they are great. Druids are a little more rough, and a little more melodic. Green Death, though, are what people think of when they think metal. They’re of the Avenged Sevenfold, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest school. Really impressive vocal range, lots of guitars and songs about evil and devils.

And it’s good. Man, is it good.

The guitar work is supreme and the vocals wail. It’s metal to its absolute apex. It’s a glorious wave of death and destruction.

And I hope people give it a chance. A real honest chance. If they don’t like it, walk three blocks and see someone else.

Review Mega Postamaniapalooza Vol 2 (Featuring TWINS! Odd Pets! Druids! Lily DeTaeye!)


No time to lose! Let’s get to it!

TWINS (12 pm – Saturday –  HyVee Mainstage) Square America

There has never been a secret that TWINS are a band that fits in a little better in a different era. Their previous releases, 2014’s Tomboys on Parade and the criminally slept on 2012 release Funny Faces, showcased their early 70’s rock and roll credentials. Square America though might be their most focused effort, as well as their most Big Star/Cheap Trick-esque album to date.

With help from Gloom Balloon/Poison Control Center’s Patrick Tape Fleming as producer, Square America is their crispest album yet. Not in a lull in 12 tracks, just rollicking big old school fun that captures their melodic guitars, surprisingly pretty vocals and cheeky lyrics. It’s the cleanest, sharpest and most focused sound from a band who knows exactly what they want their music to sound like. They’ve long wanted their own #1 Record  and I think Square America is it.

The standout tracks might be the bookends of “Hotstepper” and “Teenage Grenade”. Both showcase the harmonies and the riffs that have built their sound, but honestly their isn’t a point that I would call a lesser song. Those who have been lamenting the death of rock and roll really need to listen to TWINS and feel a little better about rock’s long-term health.

Odd Pets EP

Odd Pets (12 pm – Saturday – Kum and Go Stage) – Odd Pets EP

Holy shit. Where the hell did this come from and why has it taken me so long to listen to it?

Whew. I’m kind of mad at myself, right now.

I’m not sure if I can continue this review because I just feel stupid.

I need to go take a walk or something.

I feel like I’ve let all of you down by not talking about this sooner.

I think I blew it by leaving GDP early and missing their set.

I’ve seen the name Odd Pets on a lot of bills. My pals over at DSMShows have spoke highly of them.

I bet they’re awesome live.

This. This is just…I dunno. I’m flummoxed and angry.

I really like this. It’s a super fun 14 minutes or so.

Damn. I need to get better at this.


Druids (1:30 pm – Saturday – HyVee Mainstage) – Cycles of Mobeum

Like most kids born in the 80’s I had my flings with heavier music, but as I aged my tastes changed. Also, and let’s be honest, the late 90’s and the early oughts weren’t exactly a peak time to experience hard rock. The radio was filled with Nu Metal (which I bought into a bit, for sure). The magazines and the early stages of the internet were all focused on what was popular. Here in Iowa, we were deluged with bands that either wanted to be Limp Bizkit or wanted to be Slipknot (including Slipknot, itself, I guess, but I’m digressing a bit). While I’m sure there were talented acts at that time, I found myself underwhelmed by a good number of local acts playing the type of music I was gravitating towards, at the time, and I was too lazy to put in the effort to find the good ones, if we’re being honest. Then, my tastes changed. The local scene exploded in the mid-2000’s with bands a bit more my speed and I pretty much abandoned metal altogether.

It may seem weird to be a music writer and not know the difference between sludge, doom, thrash, etc. but here we are. I’m just a guy on a blog telling you what I like to listen to, and for a long time I didn’t like to listen to heavy guitars and dudes growling at me, or worse, trying to rap over it. I just skipped all of it.

Something changed, though. That something was Druids.

I first saw Druids at a show a few years ago and I just stood wide eyed while people head banged around me. Sure it’s heavy and sure it’s growly. But good lord, they just might be the best at growly and the best at heavy.

I can’t break this down track by track, but the star of this album is the musicianship. It’s so fast and so melodic and so precise and so good, you can’t help but get sucked into it. There are hints of psychedelic and hints of blues, but man, it is just excellent guitar work.

I know there are people who are going to get turned off by the vocals, I know it. But consider this, with the type of music they are making, you can’t just have a dude crooning. You have to have pure guttural noise. It has to come from someplace primal and deep. It has to be this way because that is what the music demands.

So yeah, my horizons are starting to broaden. I’m learning some of the sub-genres a bit. Mostly though, I’m appreciating this for the art that it is. Because when you do something like this wrong, it’s way wrong, but when you do it right, man, is it right.


Lily DeTaeye (2:30 pm – Saturday – Generation Z Stage) – Nothing to Say

This was nice.

You know, the older I get the more I tend to gravitate towards the office radio stations, you know your friendly pop stations that play Taylor Swift and Colbie Caillat and such. The big reason is 1) it tends to be the channel my six-year old daughter likes and 2) our active rock stations are mostly butthole. I swear, if I have to hear a promo for this being “Iowa’s New Rock Station” or whatever and then “Sex and Candy” plays, I just want to punch through the dash in my car.

There’s another big reason I’ve been listening, though, and that is the music they play is often very nice. It’s pleasant. You can hum and smile and live. They’re not perfect channels, but I’d much rather hear “Blank Space” then “Sail” by AWOLNATION.

Lily DeTaeye fills that nice space well. Just a pretty voice and simple songs that make me smile. It’s pretty, comfortable music. It’s a nap in the sun or petting a fluffy dog or drinking a large strawberry malt. Sure, none of these things are going to openly change your life and your worldview, but they’re nice. They’re friendly. They make me feel good.

DeTaeye has a perfect voice for the type of music she plays. It’s sweet and usually backed with an acoustic or a ukulele (although “In Your Arms” has a saxophone solo, which was unexpected but always welcome). And yeah, it’s nice.

There’s a nice lullaby about footie pajamas called, uh, “Footie Pajamas” that features a children’s choir , which normally repulses me but in this case it’s really cute, and a toe tapper called “Cantare Enternamente” and, I dunno. It’s all sweet.

So, yeah. This was nice.

Review Mega Postamaniapaloozagate Vol. 1 (Featuring Courtney Krause! MarKaus! Glitter Density! and Holy White Hounds!)


Louise Bequeaith (left) and Catherine Lewin are Glitter Density

I left this blog pretty well high and dry for a long time, so I missed a chance to talk about a lot of great bands. Entirely too many. Iowa artists were just pumping out the hits and I was too busy doing data entry and feeling sorry for myself.

For the next, I dunno, however many long it takes, I guess, I’m going to catch up four bands at a time. As always, I urge you to listen and make your own opinions, because I like most of this stuff and you may not.

To start it off, I’m going to cover some of the local bands playing 80/35 (which kicks off this Friday)! Download the app for full show times or check out the Generation Z and the three main stages here! Hopefully we can get through all of their new releases by Friday.


Courtney Krause (5pm Friday – Kum and Go Stage) – Thoughts and Sounds

I want to give this album a true review. I really really do.

I want to tell you about the beauty in Krause’s voice. Her talent with a classical guitar. The way she weaves stories with confidence, but also with a little bit of vagueness so you can fill in the blanks yourself. The way Dylan Boyle’s slide guitar only hints to his immense talent (For real. Dude might be the best guitarist in this town) but would make this album completely incomplete without.

But I just can’t get past “Hardwood Floors”.

I can’t tell if it’s the haunting backing vocals by Patresa Hartmann or just the simple music on top of that huge voice, but “Hardwood Floors” wrecked me

I’ve listened to Thoughts and Sounds a couple of times and I don’t know if I was distracted by life or what, but sitting in a booth in a bar at 2 pm and openly crying was, let’s say, unexpected.

The album is full of little emotional moments, but “Hardwood Floors” has the sort of hook that can grab you directly by you aorta and just start yanking. The way the instruments almost mimic movement on a hardwood floor (who knew a tambourine could tug at my emotions?) The way Krause’s voice decends off the  high notes and hammers the repeated “My arms.” The ethereal Hartman, hovering behind the proceedings. Every moment is special and rewards the listener for paying attention.

I’ve been known to fixate on a track, from time to time, but to have one completely overtake me on an album this good is rare. It’s almost perfect on an album that could stand on its own without it.

Here’s my suggestion: listen to it once. Pay attention to the vocals, the productions, the guitars. Pay attention to the lyrics and the changes and the pacing.

Then listen to it again and don’t do any of that. Just let the album take you where it wants you to go. Don’t be distracted by life or by criticism. Just let the album be and see what it does to you.


MarKaus (7pm Friday – Nationwide Stage) – White Mans Burden

A few weeks back, I made my post about which 80/35 bands I was going to try and see. I included a little shout out section at the bottom about local acts you should check out, but were sadly up against bands I was dying to see.

One name I left off that list was MarKaus. At the time, I thought it was just a dumb error on my part, but the more I think about it, the more I think there was more to it than that.

MarKaus has been such a force on the scene in such a small time, that in my head, I just assume everyone knows who he is. In just a small amount of time he has burst on the scene, worked with some of the best in Des Moines, received a lot of acclaim and attention, played some big stages and generally staked his claim as one of the best in town, and maybe more.

It’s an impressive amount of work, hustle and just congenial charisma that can propel someone that quick, but MarKaus also backs it up with a lot of ability. He’s an MC who is not afraid to tackle tough subjects about society and life that can be deemed uncomfortable by some but really need to be paid attention. He presents his ideas and experiences with incredible production and a live show to match.

His debut solo album, White Mans Burden, couples his incredible flow, his smart and often intense rhymes and pairs it with incredible production and samples. He also has the backing of some of his MediaFresh cohorts as well as work by some of the Des Moines’s most respected artists, like a guest verse from Gadema and production from Aeon Grey.

So, MarKaus may not be at the level of fame he should be, just yet, it really is just a matter of time.

Holy White Hounds (8:15 Friday – Nationwide Stage) – Sparkle, Sparkle

You guys.

Holy White Hounds are so great.

It’s so neat to see their success, because, man, they’ve been so great for so long. Dig Angees were great. La Strange was great. Guitars are great. Guitar solos are great. Debauchery is great. Hometown pride is great. Tattoos are great. Freaking out squares is great. Charismatic front men are great. Just being happy about music is great. Success for a bunch of good dudes is great.

I just sort of want to slam this PBR and shout.

I dunno, just, fucking buy the album.

Sorry, as I re-read this the next day, I realize I may have been a bit drunk when I wrote the above. I don’t really get into the album much. It is great, though.

Fuck it, I stand by it.

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Glitter Density (6:15 Friday – Generation Z Stage) – Live at Vaudeville Mews 7/2/16

There’s something unique happening with Glitter Density. I have been to a lot of shows in my life. I have seen lots of teenagers in bands. I have watched as they get embarrassed when their dad dances and takes pictures or when aunts and uncles awkwardly high five or when grandma sits in the back and smiles.

I have seen as they make faces when they screw up a chord or if their voice cracks. I have seen as they reach out to friends standing in the front row and as they sing songs people know the words to. I’ve seen them turn red when someone “whoos” in the crowd while they’re awkwardly bantering between songs or as a guitar is tuned. I have seen as they plowed every bit of teenage awkwardness forward and turned into the the unmistakable lack of fear that teenagers sometimes overdose on to overcome their base fears. I’ve seen bands that had no reason to be that confident.

So yeah, none of that is unique to Glitter Density. They have all of that, the familial support, the goofy friends in the front row, the awkwardness, the surprise poise.

What makes Glitter Density unique is that a lot of these bands are bad. All they have is the support of family and friends. They haven’t yet developed the ability to be something more than a fun thing to do with their friends and to make their parents proud. Not to say being bad at something at a young age is a terrible thing, it is just the norm. A lot of times, these awkward teenagers develop into incredible performers and musicians. Other times, they grow up, go to college, get a job and only break out their instrument at parties or for lullabys or to show their kids they used to be cool.

Nothing about Glitter Density’s actual ability suggests they are a flash in the pan. There is real gifts of performance and grace underneath the teenage exuberance. They are taking simple sounds and transforming them into low-fi, even-keeled works of art. While neither member of Glitter Density shows themselves as a guitar or bass virtuoso, Catherine Lewin’s voice can transform from shy teen to real lung-blowing powerhouse. When Louise Bequeaith sings, she has a Moldy Peaches quality. She’s wry, simple but understood and confident.

It’s neat to watch a duo and wonder where they’ll go. But it is rad to see actual talent and fearlessness mixed in with the normal teenage red-cheeked glow as dad takes his 900th picture.




GDP 2016 In Ten Words



Gross Domestic Product is this Saturday, May 28. It takes place in the East Village, is a showcase of homegrown talent and I love it more than I love beer and tacos and at least one of my pets.

Tickets are available for the low price of $15 until day of and everyone should buy them.

Now the kick-ass writers over at DSMShows (if you read me and not also them, you’re outside your damned mind) have a write up of each band that goes a little more in depth. I, however, have been too busy writing about my shitty brain to do the same. Plus, I have this channel on my Roku that just shows dirt indie wrestling from public access around the world and it’s really taking up a chunk of my time.

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to sell you on each band in ten words because I want you to go and I want you to listen to them, but I also want to watch this Fred Yehi vs Colby Corino match that looks like it was filmed in someone’s filthy basement in front of 12 people. Priorities.

Lineup (all bands can be heard right here.):

Wooly’s (All Ages)

5:00pm – Foxholes – They’re like super good at music. They’d better play “Drive”.

5:45 – Courtney Krause – Really smart and pretty storytelling. She also seems really nice.

6:30pm – Fetal Pig – Released one of my favorite albums ever. Listening right now.

7:15pm – Agrinex – God dammit, my hearing. Fuck it, who needs to hear?

8:00pm – Tires – My favorite band in the world. Not even kinda joking.

8:45pm – Media Fresh – I bought their album at their last GDP. Yes, bought.

10:00pm – Green Death – Megadeth approved, so I approve. I saw Megadeth at Supertoad.

The Blazing Saddle (All-Ages until 9pm/21+ after 9pm)

6:45pm – Glitter Density – Usually angry at talented youngsters but I don’t hate this.

7:30pm – The Vahnevants – Like if you hit The Beatles with a steel chair.

8:15pm – Bob Bucko Jr – There’s so much happening here underneath the seemingly simple production.

9:00pm – Nostromo – If you need this recommendation, you haven’t listened. Listen. Now.

9:45pm – Odd Pets – They’re my new obsession. Garage music is the best music.

10:30pm – VaJ of Courage – I think my friend Rachel is in this. She’s neat.

11:15pm – Alex Body – Like a level of Mega Man 3, but with lyrics.


So there you have it. 140 words should be enough to convince you, but if you need more, click the links and listen and make up your own mind. You’re all smart and you should be smart and go to this.