We here at DSM Shows are enthusiastic about local music. Our number one goal is to get people out to see what the musicians in our town have to offer. I mean, that’s why we all quit our jobs and now squat in an abandoned building next to a Starbucks (free wi-fi, free dumpster pastries). Seriously, we live for this shit.
Well, with that said, the local scene can be damned because tomorrow Danny Brown will be in town. Known for his idiosyncratic vocal delivery, deep musical knowledge, and eclectic style, the Detroit MC is hands down one of the most important figures in rap music today. His wit, ear for atypical beats, and overall dopeness set him above the majority of his peers. And I haven’t even mentioned his live shows…read more
Summer is overrated. I don’t like the sun, I’m not into the daytime, and I prefer to wear sweatshirts. And that’s not to mention the season’s climate extremes which continue to rain destruction across our state on a more and more frequent basis.
Therefore, I welcome October in Iowa. With it comes all those wonderful gradients of warm colors dancing and falling in the leaves on the trees. All the good foods are finally harvested and ready to enjoy. And people finally stop all of their summer procrastination and get back into their routine, whatever it may be.
For us, it means throwing killer house shows! And October being the month it is, we decided to go a little dark and a little spooky with this one. The bill is comprised of all experimental-leaning electronic acts — a genre appearing more frequently from the dark corners of our burgeoning lil’ music scene here.read more
Liz de Lise recently put out a self-titled album that is pretty damn compelling, and as much as I think you for sure should go listen to it (and in particular “Meat From Bone” and “Clouds Up Ahead”), I really think the thing to do to make sure you get your ass at this concert is watch their video for The Key, a Philadelphia musical publication.
Watching them perform “Baby” as part of The Key’s Studio Sessions video series, even on my tiny little glowing screen, was a thrilling experience from start to finish. From the very first chord you are reminded of how precarious and delicate the process of performing live music can be.
The recklessness with which these two musicians pursue their vision serves as a constant reminder that, at any moment, this whole thing could just fall apart. It almost seems like they’re piloting their song as close to that edge as possible just for the rush.read more
Get transported to the peace-loving days of the 60s and 70s for the pre-release party of SIRES’ forthcoming album, Soul for Sale, available October 21 from Station 1 Records. Childhood friends Dylan Sires (guitar/keys/vocals), Ross Klemz (percussion/vocals) and Graham Howland (bass/vocals) have played music together for years and it shows in the tight, balanced mix of soul and seductive rock n’ roll.
Formerly known as “Dylan Sires and the Neighbors,” the band has spent time touring in Japan, played last summer’s 80/35 Music Festival, and even opened for Mumford & Sons on the “Gentlemen of the Road” Iowa stopover in 2015.read more
The Maximum Ames Music Festival appeals to all music-listeners by bringing in a wide variety of local and national acts to steal the hearts of festival attendees. After a solid lineup of blues, pop and punk during the first day, the festival eases into day two with the powerful vocals of The Host Country.
Back in 2009, Ty Wistrand (guitar/vocals) and Diana Weishaar (keys/vocals) were both attending the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, when they realized they had similar music interests and writing styles. So they decided to take a stab at collaborating musically; the result — The Host Country.read more
Almost a century ago a woman named Edith Wharton became the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction when she published The Age of Innocence, a tragic love story set in New York City during the 1870’s about a doomed romance between a man with a bright future and a woman with a questionable past. Towards the end of the novel the protagonist, Archer Newland, is talking to himself about his son’s generation and recalling his own difficult decision to choose duty over love, and says:
“The difference is that these young people take it for granted that they’re going to get whatever they want, and that we almost always took it for granted that we shouldn’t. Only, I wonder— the thing one’s so certain of in advance: can it ever make one’s heart beat as wildly.”
The generation of young people right now taking their first tentative steps into the real world is the first generation in a long time that must exert a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish any kind of life that is either comfortable or fulfilling, to say nothing of both at the same time, and this burden seemingly has freed them to more seriously consider how best to apply that effort, forced them to consider what kind of life might actually be worth that effort.read more
It’s funny how nationalism and the Western genre have become intermingled. I blame John Wayne. After all, most of the best characters in the classic Westerns are outlaws, taking our American notions of justice and liberty into their own hands, following a civil war which had divided the the United States’ national identity down the middle. Sure, at some point we started rooting for the sheriffs and their deputies, but in this day-and-age, I think those times have passed.
We’re once again rooting for the outlaw. Take the 2016 contemporary western, Hell or High Water, for example. The protagonists are two brothers, who’ve been forced to rob banks in order to secure a future for their families. The police officers charged with stopping them aren’t even presented as the antagonists, but rather the film points the moral finger at the banks which have been “legally” robbing people for years.
That’s kind of the cultural shift we’re seeing right now. It’s a time of re-examining the laws that put civil rights and environmental activists under arrest, while “rulemakers” like police, banks, and big business continue to mold those laws to whatever form best fits their interests.read more
Song cycles were once a prominent form of presenting music. A song cycle (or “Liederyklus” in German) is a group of songs with some type of coherence bringing them together. For Tony Bonton and The Mimzees’ “Sheltallica” it is the words of Shel Silverstein. Those words have long resonated with Tommy Boynton, who composed 9 out of 10 songs in the cycle.
Boynton’s musical prowess is evident and expanded upon by an incredible performance from Brendan O’Donnell on viola, but it isn’t really the music that strikes me as much as how they play it. I’ve never seen Tommy more at home than when he plays these songs. They are a part of him, and with a master like Brendan next to him, the confidence of the duo soars. The two weave their way through the mystical yet natural world of Silverstein, playfully changing pace and mood throughout the cycle, but always moving forward through the ebbs and flows.
And that’s it. The playfulness. The youthfulness. The lack of a filter. That is what is important. The ability to play is often lost once adulthood visits us, but Boynton and O’Donnell haven’t lost it. This video, these songs, they are two people doing what they love to do most, while expressing their condition and the condition of others through the words of a true master.read more
Alex Braidwood is a sound artist and Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at Iowa State University. His research into sound and interaction has taken him around the Earth for many projects, performances, and installations, all of which have been collected on his Listening Instruments website.
He recently travelled to Alpine National Park in Australia where he was artist-in-residence at the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture. While he was there, he collected a series of field recordings which he put to tape for release on Maximum Ames earlier this year.
On Saturday, September 17, he will install a listening experience at the Octagon Center for the Arts at noon as part of the Maximum Ames Music Festival.read more
This year’s Hinterland Music Festival was a real hootenanny. From locals like Field Division and William Elliott Whitmore, big-name national acts like Ray LaMontagne and Lake Street Dive, and of course the legendary Willie Nelson, the festival this year continued to solidify its status as one of the Midwest’s best up-and-coming folk and bluegrass music festivals.
The whole experience felt like a proper throwback to 60’s summer festivals rather than a contemporary take on the tried-and-true camping music festival format of decades past.
Here’s to many more.read more
In many ways, Iowa City’s newest festival, Witching Hour, is a renaissance. After all, the festival celebrates the cultural exploration of the unknown in a time when many are turning away from the traditional American dream experience to lifestyles more sustainable and contributory.
In doing so, we are collectively seeking a more open cultural identity: one without discrimination of thought, with a search for understanding and a refocusing on the arts and culture which detail the lives we lead. We’re chipping away at it here in Des Moines, but with Iowa City’s strong cultural history, they’ve always been ahead of the curve.
Witching Hour collects artists and academics of all types into Iowa City’s downtown/campus area for two days of talks, performances, and demonstrations.read more
There has been somewhat of an ongoing discussion between those of us here at DSM Shows as to what roles surrounding cities play in your own music scene. Does a well-curated music festival a couple of hours away play a part in the quality of surrounding cities’ music culture? Or is the condition of a city’s music culture defined only by that which occurs inside the city lines?
I think it depends on the city. Des Moines is in a unique position due do its central location between a number of (once?) thriving metropolises. Growing up in central Iowa, driving to see live music was expected. In my teenage years, I probably saw as many shows at Gabe’s Oasis in Iowa City and the Sokol Underground in Omaha as I did at the Vaudeville Mews and The House of Bricks.
That’s not to mention the fact that Des Moines band’s are frequently invited to play shows in surrounding cities. Many locals played the Mission Creek Music Festival this year and numerous shows in places like Minneapolis, Omaha, and Chicago this year alone have featured some of our very own musicians in their lineups.
Perhaps it’s all a discussion of semantics. Local vs. regional. Either way, until Des Moines becomes a must-tour destination for artists, I’ll continue driving a couple of hours to see incredible, contemporary musicians with no complaints.read more