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.

FullSizeRender (4)

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.

My 2016 80/35 Schedule


Holy crap. It’s basically summer. That means it’s basically time for 80/35. The lineup is full, the schedule has been released and now we agonize over who we’ll have to pick and choose. So, let’s talk.

If you haven’t bought tickets yet, you have until May 17th for discounted tickets. Also, check out the full lineup and make up your own mind (and while you’re there, click around on the band links. I wrote several of them and I’m so proud of them, I got excited about music again and I restarted this blog). At minimum, there are three free stages, so you should really make plans to attend.

Here’s how this works, there are bands I will see no matter what (Black Lips, Wolf Parade, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Colleen Green and Dilly Dally), there are bands that I would really like to see and in all likelihood I will be at that set barring disaster or demands from children (which, c’mon one in the same) and there are bands I really want to see, but they conflict with another band I also really want to see. Here is where I fight through those and then I can go in with a loose battle plan that will get blown to shit somewhere around 1 pm Saturday.

Craig Finn – 8:15 Kum and Go Stage vs Holy White Hounds – 8:15 Nationwide Stage

The one Friday conflict for me and it is a doozy. Craig Finn is the lead singer of The Hold Steady. His solo work is great, but The Hold Steady, man. The Hold Steady. HWH are from Iowa and I’ve been following them for like a decade in whatever incarnation they’ve been. They finally got signed to a good label and have been touring like maniacs. This set may be the Iowa coming out party. Hell, it may be the last time they get to be “Iowa’s” before they get to be “The World’s”. It’s a pretty rare occurrence to watch an Iowa band actually break out.

Since there is a very real chance if I go to see Craig Finn expecting to hear “First Night” but only end up hearing his (albeit excellent) solo work, I think I’ll take the sure thing.

Winner: Holy White Hounds

Druids – 1:30 Main Stage vs Ravyn Lenae – 1:45 Kum and Go Stage

Our first Saturday conflict, and they are very different acts, to put it mildly. Druids are a riff heavy, psych/doom metal band and Ravyn Lenae is a 17-year old Chicago R&B singer. Lenae is really close to becoming a household name; she has the talent and the right people singing her praises. Druids are the first metal band (or rather co-first with Green Death, also this year) to play 80/35 and I’m interested in what they can do for a crowd who may not be expecting this. This is a really tough one. I will probably end up at Druids, because my kids are usually down there around this time and they like to play in the stream running through the grounds and I will be very happy, so I will give the non-committal, cheap win to them.

Winner: Druids

Vic Spencer – 4:45 Kum and Go Stage vs SIRES 5:00 Nationwide Stage

Spencer is a poet. From Chicago’s South Side, he uses his background and upbringing to create beautiful works . SIRES is the former Dylan Sires and Neighbors. They’re tweaking their sound a bit and working with a new label and are in the process of releasing a new album, so I will be interested in seeing where they’re at in their rebirth. This is another one I may regret years from now (like the time I choose not to see Kendrick Lamar. Stupid.) but I really like the old DS&N so I want to see what SIRES can do.

Winner: SIRES

Black Lips – 7:00 Main Stage vs MAIDS – 7:00 Nationwide Stage

Sorry, Mickey and Danny. If you’re freeloading, go see MAIDS (and make a donation to the DMMC.)

Winner: Black Lips

Lizzo – 8:15 Kum and Go Stage vs Green Death – 8:15 Nationwide Stage

Green Death are a thrash metal band. They’re playing a free stage where a lot of the people will be sunburned and drunk and ready to throw down (in a good way, I hope) so I kind of want to see the whole thing unfold.

Lizzo, though, is incredible. Rap, sing, perform; she can do it all. So, uh, her.

Winner: Lizzo

So here is what my schedule looks like:


Wolf Parade
Dilly Dally
Holy White Hounds


Easy Fruit
France Camp
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
Colleen Green
Black Lips
The Decemberists

Honestly, this is one hell of a lineup and I can’t wait for July. This is a rare year where I’m more excited for about a dozen other bands before the headliners, and I really like the headliners (not like the year it was Of Montreal and Girl Talk, of whom I’m both indifferent.)

I guess the big thing I’m missing in my schedule are jam bands (or jam band adjacent). Lotus is pretty good, and there’s some solid bluegrass. But, I dunno, this many quality acts, I’m not going to force myself into something I’m not 100% into. I guess if I could sum it up:

yano shrug.gif

As far as under the radar acts: France Camp, Colleen Green and Dilly Dally are the big three I would recommend. I like Courtney Krause, but she’s opposite Wolf Parade, so I’m going to miss her. But if you’re into pretty voiced folk/country/Americana, give her a whirl. Also, check out MaZoo. She’s a smart, tough MC who has the poor placement of being opposite Colleen Green. However, if Green isn’t for you, check out MaZoo. She runs with a solid crew, so I’m sure there will be some quality guests, too.

Just under two months. Y’all ready?

Review – Goldblums – Heels


Goldblums were the first band I wanted to write about when I came back.

Their songs are grimy and gross garage punk.

They last about 90 seconds.

They’re rad as hell.

The album really captures them in their element: a chaotic, fuzzed-out alternate universe where time and space mean nothing.

Your feelings shift from the simple joy of the slight head bang to maybe even fear thanks to the paranoia inducing riff of “Juicer”.

I often find myself completely unclear on what is happening in the songs.

I think that sort of delirium and confusion is intended.

Also, they have a song about professional wrestler Art Barr. He was called The Juicer in WCW.

Art Barr is an interesting subject. You see Art Barr was one hell of a professional wrestler, but he was also convicted of sexual abuse prior to him really developing into a great wrestler. So, I guess the question is can you separate the art of the artist? Like Roman Polanski or R. Kelly or Chris Benoit. Can you forget the horrible things they’ve done and just appreciate the beautiful things they can do? Like, can you forget about what Polanski did and just enjoy Chinatown? I understand the concept of not wanting to support the person, but can you ignore great art just to punish a bad person? Or, is the badness of the person overriding their art? Is there a scale of level of bad thing to how good they have to be? Like, we can easily forgive Winona Ryder for her little shoplifting incident because Heathers was boss. But like do you have to have something as great as, I dunno, The Pianist to forget about Polanski raping a teenager? Is it easier to watch a Chris Benoit match knowing that his brain was legit broken when he committed those terrible atrocities or does it make it worse knowing that his art is what broke his brain? If Chris Brown were better at music, or even more apologetic about his actions, would we more be eager to ignore the fact that he’s a shitball? Also, does it matter that Barr has been dead for nearly a quarter century? Can we look back on his work with fondness as a respect for the dead or does his transgression haunt him even in the afterlife?

I have a hard time with it in that I wish I were more bothered by how much I enjoy “Ignition Remix” or Los Gringos Locos vs Ocatgon and El Hijo Del Santo, but I forget about the transgressions, no matter how little I want to support the person who did it. Hell, I even bought a Love Machine (Barr’s name in Mexico and yes there is something a little icky about a convicted sexual abuser being named Love Machine…) mask. It was a knockoff I bought from a different Mexican wrestler, so Barr didn’t actually receive any money from it. Turns out it was actually a Mil Mascaras mask, which sucks because I hate Mil Mascaras. He’s probably the worst legendary wrestler of all time. Although, he looks rad, all barrel-chested and colorful in his high-waist pants. Anyway, I’m digressing.

My point is, I think art can exist in a vacuum where you don’t really have to say “I like this person and their art is great.” I mean, there are a ton of people who hate Kanye’s music because he’s a weird dickhead, and he hasn’t even done anything near as horrifying as R. Kelly. I think to enjoy art, you just have to enjoy art. But also, maybe pirate their work or something so they don’t see any money from it.

Also, Barr’s dad was a famous promoter and wrestler, as was his older brother, so there is also the subject of nepotism and should someone who had access to he finest training and was easily able to network be held to a higher standard vis a vis the art they create. For instance, should the first thing we note about, say, Allison Williams is that she got her career because of who her dad is, or should we treat her work on the same level as someone who worked their ass off to be mediocre? But that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, the album is like 7 minutes long and it fucking rules.


Well. This is Awkward.



Uh. Hi there.


It has been almost two years since my last post. I had to re-buy the domain and everything because I let it expire because I sort of thought I was done here. But, I dunno. I guess not.

What have I been up to? Well, I got a job. Then I got fired. Then I got another job. Then I got another job, and I hate that job. I hate it so much, you guys.

My kids are grown now. I mean, they’re 6 and 3, but they might as well be. Lorelei likes cartoons, basketball and the song “Back That Ass Up” by Juvenile, apparently. Quinn turns 3 in just a few days and he enjoys yelling, throwing things and generally ruining my life.

Let’s see. What else…

Chuck Grassley unfollowed me on Twitter because I sent him a DM about the Supreme Court, but re-followed me because I called him out.

Oh! I played video games with Paige, Xavier Woods, Sasha Banks, Lana and Rusev. That was neat.


Last week I went to a Cardinals game with my dad and Fredbird brought me pizza. I was on the Jumbotron and everything. That was also neat.


Hmmm. There has to be other things…Oh! I had a mental breakdown just the other day. Went to the emergency room and everything. I’ve deleted that story a couple of times, but we’ll get there. That was less neat.

Currently, I’m drinking. This is a sour beer. It’s a Grimm Echoplex.


But yeah. Let’s go back to the other thing. You know, the hospital thing. I think that’s the main reason why I started this back up. Even with as little as I paid attention towards the end, this blog was always a way for me to export some of the thoughts that ran around in my head and get them out. Now, they’ve just been stuck in there, wrecking me. So, along with the cocktail of pills and the likely upcoming therapy, I’m restarting this blog.

Plus, I’ve missed out on so much: releases from favorites, new artists making noise, live shows that demanded attention and with GDP on the horizon and 80/35 before we know it, there’s lots of stuff to talk about.

So. Hi. Welcome back. Let’s have some fun and thanks.

Make a Mixtape, It Always Helps- 80/35 Music Festival 2014

Chris Ford and Patrick Tape Fleming of Gloom Balloon

Chris Ford and Patrick Tape Fleming of Gloom Balloon

I almost bought into it. I did. I dunno if it is my natural depression, my often weirdly intense paranoia or the fact that I spend too much time on the internet, but the somewhat harsh outcry and the excruciating six week wait between band announcements and I almost caved into a thought that I just wouldn’t like this year’s 80/35, or maybe even worse, I nearly became apathetic to it. I knew I would go, and all the good things about the festival that I have spoke of the last two years were going to happen: the community building, the resume building, the memory building would all be there. But would I care? Continue reading

80/35 Schedule – Let’s Fight the Conflicts Together

(Here is The River Monks video for “I Am A Lake” shot by the good people at DEFT.)

Last week 80/35 released their schedule. When I first read it, it seemed kind of cut and dry as to which shows I would go to, so I didn’t think the column would be necessary. But now that I have actually sat down to officially plan out my schedule, it turns out there are a few absolutely brutal conflicts. So, let’s power through this together.

Don’t have tickets to 80/35, yet? How dare you.

If you do decide to head down and just go to the free stages (which I would support because those stages are awesome), please buy your beer there and maybe an 80/35 t-shirt. Or even just donate $10 to the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition. They are a non-profit, afterall, and I would like them to continue doing this each year.

Here is the full schedule, in chronological order, for your reference. 80/35 also has an app you can download if your phone is not a bunch of garbage (Incidentally, a solid fuck off to US Cellular for changing the date of my eligibility and destroying their phone pricing model, but I’m digressing) (MS – Main Stage, KG – Kum and Go Stage, HV – Hy Vee Stage)


12:00 p.m. Brother Trucker -MS
12:00 p.m. Quick Piss –KG
12:00 p.m. M34n Str33t HV
12:45 p.m. Fury Things – KG
1:00 p.m. Fire Sale HV
1:30 p.m. Gloom Balloon – MS
1:45 p.m. Chicago Farmer – KG
2:00 p.m. TWINS HV
2:45 p.m. TREE – KG
3:15 p.m. Dawes – MS
3:00 p.m. Cirrus Minor HV
3:45 p.m. Circle of Heat – KG
4:00 p.m. Bonne Finken HV
4:45 p.m. Black Diet – KG
5:00 p.m. Best Coast – MS
5:00 p.m. GoodcaT HV
5:45 p.m. Pert Near Sandstone – KG
6:00 p.m. MAIDS HV
6:45 p.m. The Hooten Hallers – KG
6:45 p.m. Ziggy Marley – MS
7:00 p.m. Max Jury HV
8:00 p.m. Surfer Blood – KG
8:00 p.m. The River Monks HV
9:00 p.m. Conor Oberst – MS


12:00 p.m. Boy & Bear MS
12:00 p.m. Dat Dude Biggz KG
12:00 p.m. Volcano Boys HV
12:45 p.m. Har-di-Har KG
1:00 p.m. Zeta June HV
1:45 p.m. Soap KG
1:45 p.m. Raz Simone MS
2:00 p.m. Foxholes HV
2:45 p.m. Shy Boys KG
3:00 p.m. Kris Adams HV
3:15 p.m. The Envy Corps MS
3:45 p.m. Useful Jenkins KG
4:00 p.m. James Biehn HV
4:45 p.m. The Whigs KG
5:00 p.m. Parlours HV
5:00 p.m. Xavier Rudd MS
5:45 p.m. Caroline Smith KG
6:00 p.m. Aquamarine Dream Machine HV
6:45 p.m. King Fantastic KG
7:00 p.m. Holy White Hounds HV
7:00 p.m. Dr. Dog MS
8:00 p.m. Those Darlins KG
8:00 p.m. The Maytags HV
9:00 p.m. Cake MS

(I didn’t include the late night shows because sadly, I will not be in attendance for them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, if that’s what you desire.)

So let’s talk this out, and maybe we can figure this out together. It will be okay. It will all be okay.

M34N STR33T vs Brother Trucker vs Quick Piss – July 4 Noon

The festival kicks off with three quality bands in three different genres. M34N STR33T is a hip hop act from Omaha, Quick Piss is grimy punk and Brother Trucker is good old-fashioned rock and roll. I really like all three, but I sort of feel like I can see some version of Brother Trucker a lot this summer, so if its a three way tie, sadly they’re probably out. The remaining two are super unique and I’m having a tough time picking. I would really like to see the show with the full projection art, though, and I worry that at noon, M34N STR33T aren’t going to have that element. But Quick Piss is playing an aftershow with Surfer Blood that I hope I can go to. It’s a tough call.

WINNER – Quick Piss

Surfer Blood vs The River Monks – July 4 8pm

Three months ago and this is a no brainer. Surfer Blood are awesome and they rarely come through here, if ever. The River Monks are a local, and they get gigs, so I could miss them and not fret. It’s just that River Monks put out the album that I am listening to more than any other right now, and I sort of feel I should see them play stuff off of it. Again, Surfer Blood is playing an aftershow, so I could conceivably just go to that, but I really like Surfer Blood. Guh, this one is going to hurt.

WINNER – Surfer Blood

Raz Simone vs Foxholes – July 5 145/2pm

The hip-hop acts have all been revelations this year. TREE, King Fantastic, Dat Dude Biggz, Kris Adams and M34N STR33T all have a ton of ability. The best of the bunch might be Raz Simone, a no-nonsense writer who speaks from the heart and from the soul. Foxholes have been a revelation themselves, bursting onto the scene with a riff and a yell. Maybe the toughest call of the fest and one I will probably catch a little of both. If I have to choose one, though, I think I know which way to go.

WINNER – Foxholes

The Whigs vs Xavier Rudd – July 5 454/5pm

I normally wouldn’t be that into a guy who appeals to the jam crowd, but Xavier Rudd is different. His sound is so unique and his live show sounds incredible due to the sheer amount of instruments and sounds he makes by himself. The Whigs are getting a lot of press and they have this classic rock grind to them that makes them special. Solid choice either way.

WINNER – Xavier Rudd

King Fantastic vs Dr. Dog vs Holy White Hounds – July 5 645/7pm

Three tough choices. I will probably catch the first few minutes of King Fantastic, so that may suffice, but they are so good. At 7 both Holy White Hounds and Dr. Dog play. Every Dr. Dog song I have heard I have liked, but Holy White Hounds are really putting together an awesome live show. I regret missing their turn at GDP, so I may have to rectify that here. The problem with the whole national vs local is that the locals really go all out for 80/35, so you can’t always just say “I will catch them another time” because another time won’t be as special. This feels like a set that is going to be special. Fuck it, going with my gut.

WINNER – Dr. Dog

So Friday looks like: Quick Piss, Fury Things, Gloom Balloon, TWINS, TREE, Dawes, Bonne Finken, Best Coast, Maids, Ziggy Marley, Surfer Blood, Conor Oberst

And for Saturday: Boy & Bear, Har-di-Har, Raz Simone, Foxholes, Envy Corps, James Biehn, The Whigs, Xavier Rudd, Caroline Smith, King Fantastic, Dr. Dog, Those Darlins, Cake

Best laid plans and all that, though, right? We will see where the days take me in just under two weeks.