Considering the sheer amount of Iowa music that was available for us to cover this year and the tendency for blogs and netzines like ours to make lists at this time of the year, we decided we’d play our part. We’ve put together lists of our favorite musical events of 2015, including live shows, specific releases, or really any kind of music-related experience of any kind.
Jack Lion and marKaus at The Basement (October 17)
I wrote all about Jack Lion when they played the Des Moines Social Club earlier in the year, but this show really blew me away. The combination of their genre-defying approach to jazztronica is seriously one of the best things this state has to offer right now and the new material they unleashed that night felt like a major step forward for the Iowa City-based trio.
This night was also my first introduction to the music of MarKaus and it was eye opening. Expect big things from this dude. This show featured a jazz band that heavily employed electronic instruments and a rapper that was backed by no electronic instruments whatsoever and it was the best show I saw in 2015.
CTC Holiday Jam at the Basement (December 3)
Tina Haas Findley is a queen. Her acapella rendition of “Silent Night” at this show felt like it existed outside of time and space, unscathed by the concerns of lesser songs and performers. Aside from the scattered affirmations and Amens, you could have heard a pin drop at any point during her performance. Lesbian Poetry’s performance of “Do You Believe In Angels” and the whole motley crew’s ramshackle closing cover of “The Times They Are A Changin” were also highlights of the highest order. Chris should do this every year. And he should release it on vinyl.
The Maytags at The 80/35 Music Festival (July 11)
On the evening of July 11, as the light from the sun drained away and it touched down near Flagstaff, AZ, I found myself drenched in sweat from a raucous Run The Jewels set and yet still unable to contain my joy as I danced the night away to The Maytags and all of the literal, actual, real-life magic that they brought with them. I kept dancing and kept sweating and it was simple and pure.
Then, I kid you fucking not, some random lady next to me tried to purchase my sweat drenched American flag bandanna. Right in the middle of “Cassius”. I didn’t know what to make of it so I just shook my head and grinned. Eventually, after I turned down her offer of $40, she left me alone and I went back to shaking my head and grinning in the direction of the stage. In the moment, I barely had any time to think, I was mostly just confused and scared, but the more I think about it, the more sure I am that I made the right decision. I earned that sweat.
Tree Branch Twig at DMSC Racquetball Court (May 1)
The flip side of the shiny optimism that The Maytags lit up Des Moines with this summer was this incredible show. The handful of Tree Branch Twig’s performances that I witnessed at the Des Moines Social Club were some of the best I saw all year. But this one — the first one — really takes the cake.
Up there hidden away in the racquetball court, enveloped in darkness, the only light emanating from a glaring red bulb, I felt altogether clandestine; a weary traveller finally in the company of fellow survivors who is altogether unsure if he should trust his eyes and ears. I don’t have the requisite level of musical vocabulary to describe what Tree Branch Twig’s music consists of, but suffice it to say if you pass up a chance to see her in 2016 you will be doing yourself a disservice.
Quick Piss Farewell Show at The Vaudeville Mews (August 24)
You had to be there.