515 Alive!… literally7/31/2013
The capital city’s music festival season — a period that unofficially runs from April to November — is remarkable in its diversity. From the hard rock of Lazerfest to Little BIG Fest’s eclectic jam/Americana/country mix to 80/35’s celebration of all things indie, if you’re interested in music in this town, odds are good that you can find a festival that suits your tastes. August is no exception, as the 515 Alive Music Festival makes its way into the East Village on Saturday, Aug 3.
Now in its 11th year, 515 Alive is central Iowa’s premier EDM, rap and hip hop festival, regularly drawing 3,000 people downtown for a night of music and dancing. For Dan Green, 515 Alive’s new director of operations, taking over the running of the festival is about carrying on the established legacy while also embracing things that will make the music festival larger and more integral within the scene.
“(515 Alive is) an urban arts and music festival,” he explained. “It’s a celebration of a culture that, often times, doesn’t get recognized.”
Indeed, while Des Moines has a rising DJ and hip hop scene, major events in the city are few and far between. This is why Green sees 515 Alive as so important to the community. The music and culture is something that Green believes in, because he’s been a big part of it for so long.
“I’ve been DJ-ing (under the name SUBliminal Chaos) for four years now,” he said. “I started in Ames and started putting together my own events up there, then moved to Des Moines and continued that down here. My first show was at Vaudeville, and I’ve worked up to booking national acts from there.”
Because of his involvement in the DJ scene and his experience as a booker, getting involved in the running of 515 Alive was a natural decision.
“I’d been talking to (event organizers) for the past two or three years about the event, just seeing if I could do anything and trying to be as involved as I could be,” Green said. “Then when the previous coordinator decided that he wasn’t going to do it for another year, I think I just became a likely candidate since I was already producing electronic music shows.
“So, we met up a few times, talked about how it was going to work, made an arrangement and the torch got passed.”
The delay in transitioning leadership brought about unique challenges, however.
“We made the agreement on May 27, which gave us just over two months to plan everything,” he said.
But even with a remarkably small window in which to get things done, Green’s efforts have been admirable.
“We’ve got over 80 artists on eight stages,” he said. “It’s one of our biggest (events). For the past couple of years, there really hasn’t been a lot of hip hop, and we really wanted to bring that back this year.”
The task was made easier because Green was taking over the reins on an event that already had a good reputation.
“That helps,” he admitted. “I think that if we were trying to start something new, it might be different. The headliner for our Jokers stage is a turntableist. He’s ranked among the top 20 DJs in the country. Most of the guys that I work with are happy to play anywhere as long as the show’s good.”
Green sees that as his most important task moving forward.
“My goal is to make it a regionally or nationally known event. Kind of like 80/35: really big names. I really want to continue to progress the festival,” he concluded. “It’s in its 11th year, and I want to be here when it hits 20.” CV
Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines who would love to take his talents abroad if the rent were not so much more affordable in Des Moines.