80/35 Your complete guide to who’s who, what’s where, and when you can see it
It is time once again, boys and girls. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the 80/35 Music Festival has returned to Western Gateway Park. For two days — July 8 and 9 — downtown will become a bastion of music, art and street food, as the Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC) throws a party for 30,000 of its closest friends. Last year’s event, featuring headliners Wilco and Weezer, saw an attendance record set, as 36,000 people filled the western downtown corridor. This year, for the ninth installment of the festival, the DMMC is bringing almost 40 acts to town, including headliners Nas and The Decemberists. What follows is a rundown of who’s playing, when you can catch them, and where you’ll need to be. Keep your eyes and ears sharp while you’re there, though. You never know who you will see or where you might hear your new favorite band.
The 80/35 Main Stage is the only area of the festival that requires paid access to view. However, even if you do not have a ticket, fear not — you can hear the music just fine from outside the fence. There are perks to paid admission, though, especially if you come up with the extra dough for the VIP experience. Not only does a ticket allow you to get up close to all the touring acts, but the VIP section has its own food and drink vendors, as well as VIP bathrooms, which are worth the price of a ticket itself.
When: Friday, July 8, 9:15 p.m.
When the DMMC releases its annual teaser video offering hints to the soon-to-be-announced lineup, there is at least one completely obvious gimme so even the laziest of music fans can get excited about something. This year, it was when Mars Cafe stalwart Daniel Boseman loudly announced to a nay-saying child “Man, that’s a lot of Nas!” The Brooklyn-born rap legend turned out one of the greatest rap albums of all time with 1994’s debut effort, “Illmatic.” Hip-hop has done well on the main stage in recent years, with last year’s Run the Jewels set being one of the most highly regarded of the festival, and Wu-Tang Clan’s 2013 headlining turn setting attendance records. Friday crowds are the smaller of the two days, but if anyone can bring ‘em out, it will be this guy.
When: Saturday, July 9, 9:15 p.m.
If Nas is 80/35’s regular attempt to say “See? We’re not what you think we are,” then The Decemberists is the festival saying “Never mind. We’re exactly who you think we are.” The Portland, Oregon-based indie-folk five-piece will have the potential to draw every bit the crowd that Weezer did the year before and encapsulate everything you either love or hate about 80/35. Its seventh album, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” was released in 2015 and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. The band has not been through town since it played Vaudeville Mews in 2003, so this will be its first time playing in front of a Des Moines crowd.
When: Friday, July 8, 5 p.m.
Canadian indie rockers hailing from Montreal, Wolf Parade’s sound follows in the footsteps of post-punk revival acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Vines, though Wolf Parade’s own sound is less refined than either of those. Its last two albums, 2008’s “At Mount Zoomer” and 2010’s “Expo 86,” both came within sniffing distance of the Billboard Top 40, peaking at 45 and 48, respectively. Wolf Parade announced a hiatus in 2011, with 2016 marking the band’s comeback and its 80/35 debut.
When: Friday, July 8, 7 p.m.
Lotus is an instrumental jam band formed in Indiana in 1999. Relentless producers, Lotus has released a dozen albums between 2002 and 2014, largely on indie label Sci Fidelity, including “Escaping Sargasso Sea,” which was nominated for Guitar Player Magazine’s “Best Live Album” award in 2007. The band maintains a heavy touring schedule, averaging 100 shows a year. Lotus has become known for its laissez faire attitude towards bootlegging and fan trading of live recordings.
When: Saturday, July 9, noon
Kicking off the festival’s biggest day, Waterloo-based four-piece TWINS comes back for its second 80/35 appearance and first main stage experience. Consisting of Luke, Harper and Joel Sires, playing along with bassist Devin Ferguson, TWINS has honed a bright, upbeat sound reminiscent of early Elvis Costello. The band self-released its debut album, “Funny Faces,” in 2012 but really found its groove on 2014’s “Tomboys on Parade,” off the Maximum Ames label. TWINS released a four-song EP this past March, and its latest full-length, “Square America,” dropped July 1.
When: Saturday, July 9, 1:30 p.m.
Formed as a drum and bass two-piece in 2008 before expanding into a three-piece act, Druids draws its inspiration from heavy classics like Iron Maiden and Mastodon. The Des Moines-based act has released two albums previously, 2009’s “Pray For Water” and its 2013 follow-up, “The Sound of Meditation.” This year saw the release of its third full-length album, “Cycles of Mobeum.” This is the band’s first appearance at 80/35.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
When: Saturday, July 9, 3:15 p.m.
This alt-folk three-piece formed in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2003, released its debut album, “Like the Linen,” in 2005, but it was the 2008 follow-up, “We Brave Bee Stings and All,” that established the band’s name, landing on several “Best Of” lists for ‘08. The band released its fourth album, “A Man Alive,” this past March, which has garnered the band’s best critical reception to date. This is its 80/35 debut.
Jeff Austin Band
When: Saturday, July 9, 5 p.m.
Best known as a founding part of the Yonder Mountain String Band, Illinois native Jeff Austin left that act in 2014 after the birth of his daughter. The mandolinist released his first solo effort, “The Simple Truth,” in 2015, and 2016 sees Austin hitting the road for his first major solo tour. Austin has been through Des Moines several times as a part of Yonder Mountain, including for a 2008 appearance at 80/35, but 2016 marks his solo debut in the capital city.
When: Saturday, July 9, 7 p.m.
Black Lips is a four-piece garage rock act formed in Atlanta in 1999 that released seven albums between 2003 and 2014, with 2014’s “Underneath the Rainbow” cracking the Billboard 200 and peaking at 143. Probably the most unpredictable and controversial act to ever grace the 80/35 stage, the Black Lips’ live show is notorious for featuring vomiting, bodily fluids and copious amounts of nudity. The band prematurely ended a 2009 tour of India after fears of being arrested for homosexual acts during a show in the city of Chennai. This is their first 80/35 appearance.
Even in the unlikely event that nothing on the main stage interests you, there is still plenty of entertainment to be had. In addition to the paid entertainment, 80/35 boasts three free stages showcasing some of the best local and regional talent the area has to offer.
Courtney Krause — The Des Moines-based singer/songwriter released her debut album, “Thoughts and Sound,” last winter with a follow-up coming later this year. She is an alum of the DMMC’s Little BIG Fest and the fan-selected act for this spring’s Gross Domestic Product festival as well. This is her 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 5 p.m.
The Pistol Whippin Party Penguins – This Minneapolis-based bluegrass five-piece is self-described as “two guitars, a mandolin, a bucket of fiddles, an upright bass, a banjo, and a four-part vocal harmony that will make Rush Limbaugh wanna pay taxes.” The band has released three independent albums, including 2014’s “Way Back Home.” This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 5:45 p.m.
Dilly Dally – Canadian neo-grunge rockers from Toronto, Dilly Dally released its debut full-length, “Sore,” in 2015 on Partisan Records. Anchored by the sludgy, frayed vocal stylings of front woman Katie Monks, the band sounds like what Hole could have been if Courtney Love gave more of a shit. This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 6:45 p.m.
Craig Finn – Best known as the vocalist for Brooklyn-based rock act The Hold Steady, Finn is renowned for his storytelling ability and powerful, direct songwriting. His latest album, “Faith in the Future,” was released September 2015 on Partisan. This is his 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 8:15 p.m.
Jeanna Calvert – Des Moines based DJ and host of the monthly “Pop up Party Brunch,” Calvert has performed for some of the biggest EDM crowds in the state. She and boyfriend Brad Goldman have served as the anchors for the DMMC’s continued inclusion of dance music in 80/35’s late-night lineup. This is her second appearance at the festival. Kum & Go Stage, 9:30 p.m.
Jade Reed & Brad Goldman – Goldman has been one of the most recognizable faces in the city’s DJ community and has served as 80/35’s de-facto EDM ambassador since the inaugural event. Reed has been one of the pioneering names in Iowa techno, working with Sub Sonic Social and appearing at 515 Alive. Eschewing much of the heavy production prevalent in modern EDM, Reed’s more simple approach relies heavily on samples and looping. This is Reed’s fourth 80/35. Goldman is the current 80/35 record holder, with this being his sixth appearance. Kum & Go Stage, 10:30 p.m.
The Smoothsayers – Des Moines-based four-piece experimental rock act The Smoothsayers was founded in 2012. Its crowd-pleasing, groove-focused jam stylings should be a perfect fit for the post-work crowd hitting up the festival’s first day. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 5 p.m.
TIRES – Tires is a Des Moines-based, ostensibly instrumental act featuring some of the most singularly talented musicians in Iowa’s indie-rock scene in Phil Young and Jordan Mayland. The band released three EPs between 2011 and 2013, and most recently played the DMMC’s Gross Domestic Product festival this past spring. This is its second 80/35 appearance. Nationwide Stage, 6 p.m.
MarKaus – Hip-hop virtuoso MarKaus is originally from Kansas City but now resides in Des Moines. He is the host of the monthly Freshen Up hip-hop showcases at the Des Moines Social Club and released his debut album, “White Man’s Burden,” in 2015. He played Gross Domestic Product and is making his 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 7 p.m.
Holy White Hounds – Holy White Hounds is running neck and neck with Green Death for the title of “the next big thing out of Des Moines.” The band released its debut LP, “Sparkle Sparkle,” independently in 2015, with the album re-released in May of this year after the band signed with Razor & Tie. It recently completed a tour with The Cult then did a west coast swing all its own. This is the band’s second 80/35 appearance. Nationwide Stage, 8:15 p.m.
Odd Pets – Des Moines-based two-piece garage punk act, Odd Pets, consists of drummer Andy Buch and guitarist Lisa Burner. It released a seven-track EP in 2015 and lists its “influences” on its Facebook page as Bill Murray, existentialism, cats and sex. Front-runner for “band most likely to earn the most new fans from its set.” This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, noon
Genome – Chicago-based instrumental six-piece Genome combines elements of jazz, funk, electronic and worldbeat music. A jam-heavy experience that usually works well on the main stage but has a spotty history of success on the free stages. This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 12:45 p.m.
Ravyn Lenae – Chicago-based, 17-year-old R&B solo act Ravyn Lenae released her debut EP last fall, and it is pure baby-making music. Funky, breathy and confident, expect to see her in an evening spot on the main stage next time she comes to town. This is her 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 1:45 p.m.
France Camp – Minneapolis four-piece France Camp delivers a pop punky, guitar-driven sound that should do very well in its time slot. Its independently-released album, “Purge,” came out in May 2015. The band has a higher production value than the average punk-influenced act with better musicianship than you’d expect — unless you are a Fugazi fan. This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 2:45 p.m.
Mikel Wright & The Wrongs – Minneapolis three-piece Mikel Wright and The Wrongs is most heavily influenced by acts like Umphreys McGee and Lettuce and has a sound that is best appreciated live. It released a studio full-length in 2012, with a few live albums after that. This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 3:45 p.m.
Vic Spencer – Chicago-based hip-hop artist Vic Spencer is artistic and incredibly evocative. Spencer’s work is among the best that the Second City’s hip-hop scene has to offer. Spencer has five mix tapes available online, with the most recent coming out last spring. This is Spencer’s 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 4:45 p.m.
Colleen Green – Hailing from Los Angeles, Colleen Green will most immediately remind you of Liz Phair, most often performing as a rhythm machine-enhanced solo act. She lacks Phair’s sardonic wit, but the guitars and vocals will still draw favorable comparisons. This is her 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 5:45 p.m.
Lucky Chops – With a bombastic, horn-driven sound from New York City, Lucky Chops could be the biggest party of the evening. The band released a full-length album, “Danza,” in March and recently returned from a European tour. This is its 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 6:45 p.m.
Lizzo – Lizzo is Minneapolis-based, but the voice is pure Houston soul. Her sound is a solid mix of R&B and rap (think Missy Elliott, if Missy had the pipes to do Macy Gray.) She released “Big GRRRL, Small World” earlier this year, of which the lead single is titled “Good as Hell” — it describes her well. This is her 80/35 debut. Kum & Go Stage, 8:15 p.m.
Dem Boyz vs RAGEThat – Des Moines-based EDM party time kicks off with four DJ/producers on one stage. For anyone not interested in The Decemberists, but not looking to go home, this is where your late night dance groove will be found. This is the second 80/35 appearance for Dem Boyz and the first for RAGEThat as a duo. Kum & Go Stage, 9:30 p.m.
DJ RAJ & Strobe Trotters – Raj has ties to the Des Moines DJ community that stretch back to the ‘90s. He has also had a hand in a lot of festival action, including being a co-owner of 515 Alive and playing a role in both Bushwack and Kosmos festivals as well. This is his third straight 80/35. Kum & Go Stage, 10:30 p.m.
FRO – A Jazz/funk/rock fusion, FRO (AKA Harold Davis) is a New York native, Norwalk-transplanted force of musical nature who shared the stage with locals like Scott Sutherland and Bonne Finken, as well as holding his own opening for a bevy of national acts. This is his 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, noon.
Easy Fruit – A self-proclaimed “fucking rock and roll band from Des Moines,” Easy Fruit does its thing loud, fast and really, really well. Its debut EP — released in 2014 — has songs that stretch to more than 5 minutes, and get out of your way in 45 seconds. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 1 p.m.
The Dead Line String Band – This bluegrass jam band’s description will be enough to either drive you away or draw you in all by itself. More than a little influenced by the Grateful Dead, its set may be negatively effected by Genome, who will be wrapping up its set just before Dead Line begins, and who may tap out the crowd’s taste for jam bands. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 2 p.m.
The Cardinal Sound – The Cardinal Sound is more Americana/Bluegrass/Jam action from Des Moines. 80/35 has always had a penchant for jam acts, and this year’s festival gives fans nearly three straight hours of it. The band released an album, “On the Run,” in April of 2013, but like most jam acts is really best appreciated live. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 3 p.m.
Goldblums – Goldblums is garage punk that is as raw and ragged as you are going to find, especially coming out of Des Moines. Its most recent release, “Heels,” came out this past April, and is five tracks that take up less than seven minutes of your time, total. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 4 p.m.
SIRES – Waterloo-based indie pop Sires sports a highly polished sound that has been featured in radio commercials and on several end-of-year “Best Of” lists. Along with Holy White Hounds, Sires is possibly the most polished-sounding Iowa act on the bill. This is its second 80/35 appearance. Nationwide Stage, 5 p.m.
MaZoo – Des Moines hip-hop with a serious hard streak will be delivered courtesy of MaZoo. She brings some of the tightest rhymes around but will be a bit of a wild card. Hip-hop on the free stages has been a dicey proposition, and MaZoo is definitely harder than most. But if the same folks who showed up for Run the Jewels show up again, this could be the set of the night. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 6 p.m.
MAIDS – Maids is a Des Moines indie-disco duo. Upbeat, poppy and practically forcing you to dance, MAIDS’ music has developed a rabid following in the capital city. This is its second 80/35 appearance. Nationwide Stage, 7 p.m.
Green Death – Des Moines metal that can do no wrong, Green Death is one of the best put together acts on the stage, good enough to make converts out of just about anyone. The band was signed to the EMP label earlier this year, which saw its “Manufacturing Evil” LP re-released. A welcome left-field selection for 80/35, these guys will turn some heads. This is its 80/35 debut. Nationwide Stage, 8:15 p.m. CV