OK, so I realize it has already felt like summer in Des Moines for a little while now, but there are still a few days until the official first day of the season, so technically this post isn't ridiculously overdue. Technically.
Mrs. Des Noise and I arrive in town June 29. I imagine we will have a lot of unpacking to do. I don't know when the first show is that we'll be able to check out, and I'm sure there are local artists (including recs from the Poison Control Center's Patrick Fleming and Vaudeville Mews booker Ladd Askland) who I will end up seeing but haven't had time to visit on MySpace yet. But in the meantime, here's an extreeeeemely provisional round-up of shows that I'll be trying to check out around town this summer.
One example of what I'm hoping to do here: Jonathan Richman played in town the other night. Not everybody would love him, but anybody could-- he's a warm, giving, funny entertainer, not some kind of "difficult" listen, and he has a big catalogue of great songs. If you didn't already know that, though, there doesn't seem to be a publication yet in town to tell you. The Register's writeup just says, "Modern Lovers frontman, perhaps best known for his role in 'There's Something About Mary'"-- not exactly a ringing endorsement, especially if you've never heard of the Modern Lovers (in which case, please check out their first album right now-- it's one of my favorites of all time). I'm basically hoping to help identify deserving performers like that and let people know about fun shows to see that might have otherwise slipped under their radar.
Such as, ahem: Josh Ritter on July 8, and Japandroids on July 20.
So, without further ado... and all that good stuff...
Thursday, July 2-- Toots and the Maytals @ People's Court
I've never seen Toots and the Maytals. They're legendary in ska/reggae circles, with a couple of tracks on the influential soundtrack to 1972 Jimmy Cliff film The Harder They Come. Barring family responsibilities or other move-in related happenings, I'm so there. No idea how good they'll still be, but it's gotta be interesting. Check out: "Pressure Drop"
Friday, July 3-Saturday, July 4-- 80/35 Festival
You probably know all about 80/35, so I'll just list a few of my favorites. You may not even need me to type these next paragraphs:
July 3, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Main Stage
7:30 PM – Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks -- The former lead singer for Pavement is one of my music heroes. I will not miss this. For an example of Malkmus's wry, slightly offbeat wisdom, here he is performing Pavement's "We Dance" at the 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.
9:30 PM – Public Enemy -- With a screeching, urban sound and politics just as hard to ignore, Public Enemy's impact on hip-hop upon arrival in the 1980s can hardly be overstated. I caught them at Pitchfork last year, but I didn't have a really good view. Let's see if clock-wearing emcee Flavor Flav mentions his VH1 reality show again-- he received boos for it when I saw them. Here's "Rebel Without a Pause" from the 2008 p4k festival.
July 4, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Main Stage
3:15 PM – Man Man -- I'm told I will probably start the day in Urbandale for a parade and beer, so I have no idea if I'll be at the festival by 3:15 p.m. But if I am, I will definitely see these crazy gypsy carnie boho-hobos. Here's something I wrote about them once; here they are acting weird with their song "Hurly Burly" in the background (sorry, not trying to shill for p4k-- these are just the links I know!)
7:00 PM – Broken Social Scene -- Confession: I don't love these dudes the way some of my friends do. But I do love Feist, who was associated with this free-flowing Canadian collective. And Broken Social Scene-ster Dave Newfeld produced the first album by Los Campesinos!, last year's fantastic Hold On Now, Youngster!. All of which will probably be more than enough to have me watching their set. Here's "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl", from my favorite BSS album, 2002's You Forgot It in People.
Meredith West Stage
5:15 PM – Cymbals Eat Guitars -- Another band I don't love the way my friends do, but still feel like I might come to like. These New Yorkers recently self-released their debut album, Why There Are Mountains, and it draws on a bunch of classic 1990s indie-rock reference points. I'm still not convinced they have the songs that bands like Built to Spill or Modest Mouse had, but I'll gladly check out their live show. Check out: "Wind Phoenix".
So, that's 80/35. I'm sure I'll see some other stuff and write about it here.
Wednesday, July 8 -- The Veronicas @ People's Court
Slick, catchy Australian electro-pop with mall-punk energy-- um, think Avril Lavigne. Color me curious. Especially after this single. But I'll be at the next event instead...
** Wednesday, July 8 -- Josh Ritter @ Vaudeville Mews
Josh Ritter is a folk-tinged, occasionally rockin' singer, guitarist, and songwriter from Moscow, Idaho. He has steadily expanded his songwriting range-- from the rootsy Americana of "Harrisburg" and "The Other Side" to the war-weary allusiveness of "Thin Blue Flame" and "Temptation of Adam"-- and his sound, too... the last time I saw him he was at Central Park with the New York Pops, but I've seen him probably about a half a dozen times since 2002 or so. One of my favorites. Here's something I wrote about him once; here's one of his many, many great songs, "Lillian, Egypt".
Thursday, July 9-- Boys Like Girls @ People's Court
I'm pretty sure I don't really like these guys. Only one way to find out...
Friday, July 10-- Gov't Mule @ Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheatre
Allman Brothers offshoot rambles on. I might not go to this. But then again, I've never seen 'em, and I like guitars, so.
Thursday, July 16-- American Idol winner David Cook @ Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheatre
Bigger confession than the one about Broken Social Scene: I have never watched an entire episode of American Idol. So I should definitely write about this.
Thursday, July 16-- Patrick Fleming @ Des Moines Social Club
...Unless I go to this. I probably won't be at 80/35 in time to see the Poison Control Center at noon on July 4 due to family obligations, but tonight their lead singer will be playing solo.
** Monday, July 20-- Japandroids @ Vaudeville Mews
These Canadians have what might be my favorite album of the year so far. When they play Vaudeville Mews, I will have already seen them the previous weekend at the p4k festival. I will go see them again, probably screaming my lungs out along with their scrappy two-man punk songs about girls and growing up. Here's what I already wrote about my favorite song by them. Here's the song, "Young Hearts Spark Fire".
Tuesday, July 21-- Gomez @ People's Court
Never been a huge fan of these anthemic Brits, and I'll probably be too exhausted to go. But I do know of people who like 'em.
Tuesday, July 21-- Steve Earle @ Hoyt Sherman
I would, on the other hand, gladly go see this alt-country legend. He's currently touring behind Townes, an album of Townes Van Zandt covers.
Wednesday, July 22-- Gogol Bordello @ People's Court
If you like Man Man at 80/35, you may want to check out this band led by Ukrainian-born Eugene Hutz. I think Man Man are better, but these dudes will still probably be interesting to check out. Madonna thought so.
Sunday, August 9-- Patrick Fleming @ Ames Progressive Space
Another chance to see Poison Control Center's lead singer play solo.
Friday, August 14-- Gary Allan @ Iowa State Fair
Hey, this is one of the new country guys I kind of like.
Saturday, August 15-- Peter Frampton and Gin Blossoms @ Iowa State Fair
Um, it's an option. I was just ranting rudely at a good friend about how I like Gin Blossoms better than R.E.M. I don't think that was actually true, but I do think they got a bad rap from the critics.
Sunday, August 16-- Big & Rich @ Iowa State Fair
I feel like my buddy Tom in Chicago would want me to go to this one.
Friday, August 21-- Brooks & Dunn and Jamey Johnson @ Iowa State Fair
Oh, hell yeah. I went to high school with Dunn's daughter (for a year-- it was in Nashville, of course). And I like Jamey Johnson, even if I don't think he's as good as other rock critics dabbling in country might say he is.
Saturday, August 22-- Kelly Clarkson @ Iowa State Fair
I think I'm the only human being who wasn't impressed by "Since U Been Gone". (I'd rather listen to that Strokes-Christina Aguilera mash-up, Freelance Hellraiser's "A Stroke of Genius", thanks.) But I will totally try to check this out, if only to do my duty as a music journalist.
Sunday, August 23-- Journey with Heart @ Iowa State Fair
This will probably be my day of rest. Sorry. "Don't Stop Believing" isn't even that great! (Mrs. Des Noise, like the rest of America, disagrees.)
Friday, Sept. 11-- Britney Spears @ Wells Fargo Arena
This is the way I always pay tribute to the victims of September 11.
Saturday, Sept. 26-- The Airborne Toxic Event @ People's Court
When I read the Don Delillo book from which this band got their name, I thought it was overrated, the sort of thing a celebrity might say is great just to feel smart-- the postmodern Old Man and the Sea. OK, I was still just a freshman in college. There's a very good chance I was wrong.
Other picks (I'll probably attend some of these):
Patrick Fleming: Casper and the Cookies Aug. 6 at the Vaudeville Mews, David Dondero July 31 at Ames Progressive Space, and Alexis Gideon in September
Ladd Askland: Soy Un Caballo on June 21, Francis Harold and the Holograms on July 7, Josh Ritter on July 8, Poppets on July 14, Japandroids on July 20, Those Darlins on July 22, Theodore on July 30, Casper and the Cookies on August 6, Red Pony Clock on Aug 21, and It's True on August 28.
OK, I know I'm missing a lot. So what is it?