Earlier this month came official news that the Rock Gone Wild festival in northern Iowa-- a four-day metal event featuring the likes of Twisted Sister and Skid Row-- had been unceremoniously canceled. Country singer Jamey Johnson, opening for Brooks & Dunn Friday night at the Iowa State Fair grandstand, had beard and hair enough for the hardiest Midwest glam-metal stalwart. He and a skillful five-piece backing band played an emotive, outsider brand of country, tackling such subjects as breakups and drug use with a lonesome twang and freight train croon, as the 10,000-strong crowd trickled in amid the darkening twilight. Johnson came recommended to me by everybody from hip-hop critics to Springsteen-adoring roots-rock fans, and his breakthrough album, 2008's That Lonesome Song, is as deeply resonant a record as you can expect from mainstream Nashville these days, if not quite as raw or irreverent as forebears like Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson-- you wonder how successful Ryan Adams could have been if he had played to average fairgoers instead of fickle indie fans. Still, even if the crowd finally perked up most for power ballad of sorts "In Color", Johnson's biggest hit as a performer, it's one of Johnson's more disappointing songs-- almost like a post-grunge ballad for people who think Pearl Jam and Nickelback are just too darn loud. Lyrically, it's powerful stuff, though, and the final tune of the night, upbeat divorce song (!!) "Give It Away", which George Strait took to the top of the country charts, only underscores that Johnson is a talent to watch.

Brooks & Dunn were a trip. The long-running duo recently announced that they'll be breaking up... sometime next year, after a cash-in tour and hits compilation. It was hard to tell if they still like each other, but I was more curious whether they still like their songs. Kix Brooks, still the one in the black hat and mustache, cops licks from Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, among others, while redhead Ronnie Dunn's gorgeous vibrato recalls Roy Orbison and Elvis. Their songs show a great business acumen, never failing to throw in a marketable angle, be that beer-commercial sexuality ("Put a Girl in It", where the 10-piece group's backing video-screen-- usually full of cheap-looking screensaver-style visuals-- suddenly shifted to images of buxom young women on Slip and Slides) or Jesus Christ (but you get the feeling they'd sing the praises of Allah if Nashville were located in the Koran belt-- the last thing these guys want is to be called nonconformists). And for the first several songs, at least-- including hit after hit ("Rock My World (Country Girl)", etc.)-- they made it all fun even for a hipster city slicker like me. Dunn, wearing a ridiculous tunic, came across pretty endearingly with a long, rambling pony-buying story that had little point except to shout-out Iowa and to lead vaguely into the next song, "Cowgirls Don't Cry". By that point, though, they'd played three or four snoozers in a row, songs for the many faithful in attendance only, not for skeptical noobs like me, and I decided to let my companions-- both of whom had been up since before 6-- get home for some much-needed rest. After all, we were going to the fair again the next day. And to the farmer's market.

All I know is: When I start my band, we're definitely going to take a cue from Brooks and invest in a T-shirt launcher.

Fried cheese curds (extra hot, way better than anything you can find in restaurants)
Pork tenderloin sandwich (my first! I understand this is an Iowa specialty)
Gizmo (beef and sausage in a hoagie... delicious)
Funnel cake with glaze (it's the state fair, after all)

We had to ride our bikes 20-plus miles (round trip) up to Cumming on Sunday just to make up for all this fun. And we placed third again during Bob Nastanovich's trivia night over at the Hessen House. Congrats to O-Trivia Newton John on this week's best team name ever.



Sorry I've been away. Here are too many songs I've liked this year to count, in some kind of order that could totally change after I've had a few more months to process 'em:
  • Japandroids: "Young Hearts Spark Fire"
  • Bat for Lashes: "Daniel"
  • Atlas Sound [ft. Noah Lennox]: "Walkabout"
  • Neon Indian: "Deadbeat Summer"
  • Big Pink: "Velvet" [simply, huge]
  • Delorean: "Seasun"
  • Black Eyed Peas: "I Gotta Feeling" [i heard Erika's "Relations" and DJ Sammy's "Heaven" again last weekend at a wedding reception. i want to go out and hear this song and have it feel the way those dumb-sounding but euphoric and catchy dancepop songs did when i was going out more. this one is way better.]
  • Fever Ray: "If I Had a Heart"
  • jj: "my life, my swag"/"my swag, my life" [grouping these two together is kind of cheating, i know]
  • Yo La Tengo: "More Stars Than There Are in Heaven"
  • Animal Collective: "My Girls"
  • Taken by Trees: "Watch the Waves (Memory Tapes version)"
  • Thom Yorke [ft. Andy Yorke]: "All for the Best"
  • Young Jeezy [ft. Jay-Z] : "My President Is Black (Remix)"[my iTunes has this from January... but was I late?]
  • Gloriana: "Wild at Heart" [pretty sure this group has not one iota to do with the Quickspace song "Gloriana". i found this song through the tumblr blog of a teenage girl whose other musical loves were apparently Taylor Swift and John Mayer (not sure how i found the blog, but anyway). as i've written elsewhere, this is just a happy song that makes me wish i was a 15-year-old just out of school for the summer, thrilling to the warmth and the wide open possibilities ahead, aware i'm about to grow up but not quite able to comprehend it just yet. and utterly twitterpated on a hopeless crush that's not so hopeless after all, at least for one song.]
  • Das Racist: "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (Wallpaper Remix)"
  • Drake [ft. Bun B and Lil Wayne]: "Uptown"
  • Black Eyed Peas: "Boom Boom Pow" [i wish i liked the Gucci Mane and 50 Cent version better, because I feel like that one is, well, COOLER, but i think this original is more coherent and fun-- "HD flat"! and of course, there's ingeniously crafted seeming casualness: "i'm so 3008, you're so 2000 and late"]
  • Phoenix: "1901"
  • Major Lazer: "Keep It Goin' Louder [ft. Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze]" ["Girl, I wanna party with you" --> Diplo is the new Black Eyed Peas, and that's a GOOD thing] [title is awfully forgettable tho]
  • Morrissey: "It's Not Your Birthday Anymore"
  • Röyksopp [ft. Robyn]: "The Girl and the Robot"
  • Nodzzz: "Is She There?"
  • Atlas Sound [ft. Laetitia Sadler]: "Quick Canal"
  • Neon Indian: "Should Have Taken Acid With You"
  • Gucci Mane: "Gorgeous" ["have ya seen me lately?"]
  • Dan Deacon: "Snookered"
  • Air France [ft. Roos]: "GBG Belongs to Us"
  • Joker: "Digidesign"
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs: "Skeletons"
  • John Rich: "Shuttin' Down Detroit" [The bailout is already yesterday's issue, and I can't ride for Rich's ignorance-flattering model of populism anyway. But Naomi Klein once went on Maddow and called the financial rescue "the greatest heist in monetary history." She hasn't been invited back. And Rich manages to stage a great old-fashioned protest here, catchy and emotionally resonant, with the likable if slightly wrong-headed bravado of a late-1960s country standard like "Okie from Muskogee".]
  • Rich Boy: "Drop"
  • jj: "ecstasy"
  • Deerhunter: "Famous Last Words"
  • So Cow: "Shackleton" [no blood on HIS hands, Villalobos]
  • Animal Collective: "Brothersport"
  • Delorean: "Deli"
  • Roy Davis Jr. [ft. Erin Martin] : "I Have A Vision (The Juan MacLean Remix)"
  • Phoenix: "Lisztomania"
  • Skooda Chose [ft. Twista and Mikey Rocks]: "Loungin'" ["still hated by internet bloggers ... i'm just makin' money and loungin'."]
  • Taken By Trees: "My Boys"
  • Drake [ft. Trey Songz and Lil Wayne): "Successful"
  • Morrissey: "Something Is Squeezing My Skull"
  • The Embassy: "You Tend to Forget"
  • Dum Dum Girls: "Catholicked"
  • The Smith Westerns: "Be My Girl"
  • Super Furry Animals: "The Very Best of Neil Diamond"
  • Salem: "Redlights"
  • Jeffrey Lewis: "Roll Bus Roll"
  • Passion Pit: "Moth's Wings"
  • Real Estate: "Black Lake"
  • avner: känslor [the title means "feelings". this is the swedish electropop "clocks" meets the swedish electropop "some things last a long time" plus full-on psych/noise coda]
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs: "Zero"
  • Big Pink: "Dominoes"
  • Basement Jaxx: "Raindrops"
  • Breeders: "Fate to Fatal"
  • Wilco: "You and I"
  • John Talabot: "Sunshine"
  • Mount Kimbie: "Maybes"
  • Washed Out: "Feel It All Around"
  • Memory Cassette: "Surfin' (Save a Whale Version)"
  • Lil Wayne [ft. Pharrell]: "Yes"
  • BBU: "Chi Don't Dance"
  • Art Brut: "Mysterious Bruises" [they might be more of an albums list pick this year, though]
  • Super Furry Animals: "Inaugural Trams"
  • God Help the Girl: "Come Monday Night"
  • Bill Callahan: "In Hindsight" [the best song I own about John Tyler]
  • Floating Points: "K&G Beat"
  • Bibio: "Fire Ant"
  • The Flaming Lips: "Silver Trembling Hands"
  • Zomby: "Fuck Mixing, Let's Dance"
  • Rainbow Bridge: "Big Wave Rider"
  • Sexy Kids: "Sisters Are Forever"
  • Röyksopp: "Happy Up Here"
  • John Mayer: "Heartbreak Warfare" (03/28/09, Lido Deck of the Mayercraft) [here's your lo-fi! "red wine and ambien/ you're talkin' shit again", "if you want more love/ why don't you say so?", strummy strum stum lighters strum]
  • Pains of Being Pure at Heart: "Young Adult Friction"
  • DJ Kaos: "Love the Nite Away (Tiedye Mix)"
  • Gold Panda: "Quitters Raga"
  • Guido: "Way You Make Me Feel (Punchdrunk)" [i still don't OWN this. which is a crime.]
  • M. Ward: "Stars of Leo"
  • Drake: "Best I Ever Had"
  • Girls: "Lust for Life" [all right, all right-- this is sneaking up on me like the Strokes did]
  • Sebastien Tellier: "Kilometer (Aeroplane Italo '84 Remix)"
  • Decemberists: "The Wanting Comes in Waves (Repaid)"
  • Jay Reatard: "It Ain't Gonna Save Me"
  • The-Dream: "Kelly's 12 Play"
  • Dan Deacon: "Surprise Stefani"
  • El Perro Del Mar: "Change of Heart"
  • Ganglians: "Cryin' Smoke"
  • Wavves: "So Bored"
  • Arctic Monkeys: "Cornerstone"
  • Young Jeezy [ft. Lil Wayne and Drake]: "I'm Goin' In"
  • A Sunny Day in Glasgow: "Close Chorus"
  • K'Naan: "Kicked, Pushed"
  • Tiny Vipers: "Dreamer"
  • Gucci Mane [ft. f. OJ Da Juiceman, Rock City & LA the Darkman]: "Overboard"
  • Kurt Vile: "Beach on the Moon (Recycled Lyrics)"
  • Pissed Jeans: "Dream Smotherer"
  • Rick Ross: "Rich Off Cocaine"
  • Young Dro [ft. Yung LA]: "I Don't Know Y'all"
  • Ellie Goulding: "Starry Eyed"
  • Eve: "Me and My (Up in the Club)"
  • Patten: "Version (Test Mixxx)"
  • Pisces: "Drea One"
  • Kurt Vile: "Freedom"
  • Blue Daisy [ft. LaNote]: "Space Ex"
  • YACHT: "Psychic City (Voodoo City)"
  • HEALTH: "Die Slow"
  • Name the Pet: "Get on the Bus"
  • Bearsuit: "Muscle Belt"
  • Best Coast: "Sun Was High"
  • Future of the Left: "The Hope That House Built"
  • Small Black: "Depiscable" Dogs"
  • Nosaj Thing: "Coat of Arms"
  • TVO: "Dwyer"
  • Babe, Terror: "Summertime Our League" (I like this concept a lot-- theoretically, this would be the Loveless of the recent ethereal, electronically enhanced summer music thing-- but people are probably right to say it drags a bit unless you're in exactly the right mood)
  • A Sunny Day in Glasgow: "Walking Pneumonia"
  • Desire: "If I Can't Hold You"
  • Jean on Jean: "Tonight"
  • John Mayer: "Who Says I Can't" (05/06/09 at Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles)
  • Kid Cudi: "You Can Call Me Moon Man" (OK, I really only like the last 20 seconds or so, but I really like those last 20 seconds)
My big non-current discovery of the year so far, through a covers compilation and a couple of reissue-ish promos in my pile, is Kath Bloom. Sad slow gorgeous simple folk from the 1970s and 1980s in New England (best known through filmmaker Richard Linklater). A little Joni Mitchell, a little Vashti Bunyan, a tiny smidgen Patsy Cline. I bet people who like Tiny Vipers will like this.

Still have a lot of new music to digest. Including new stuff by the Twilight Sad. Also need to listen to the new album by Des Moines locals Why Make Clocks, among others. And those last couple of Radiohead tracks will probably factor somewhere in the list... I don't have to file my final top 50 until after Thanksgiving, usually, so there's plenty of time to winnow these down. And to figure out what I forgot.

(Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks" and "While You Wait for the Others" are both still on my playlist for further consideration-- I ain't givin' up that easy.)



All right, it's official: I gotta lot to learn about covering live music in a mid-sized city. When Slug, the MC for Minneapolis hip-hoppers Atmosphere, paused a few songs in to acknowledge the impressively amped Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater crowd-- right between the synth-zapped drug/relationship misery of "Shoulda Known", from last year's When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, and the dub trash talking of "Blame Game", off of 2002's recently reissued God Loves Ugly-- I had a humbling moment. I'd written about the duo, playing live last night as a more rock-style five-piece, at least once before. I knew their long history in the indie hip-hop world had won them their share of fans. But I hadn't expected all this. At first I was thinking the impassioned, arms-waving, rhymesaying crowd was more of a bro-down type of assemblage, based on the dude with the backwards white hat who stepped in front of me to take pictures with a REAL camera and the other dude with the forwards black hat who stumbled next to me to proclaim Atmosphere's set "awesome." But the girl behind me knew all the words, too, from both the albums I've mentioned and probably a lot in between. Atmosphere gets as much hate as love in rap-nerd circles, with that "emo" tag affixed a little bit too permanently to his puckishly not-ugly mug; despite good beats, Slug's obvious lyrical talent, and his development from cathartic chronicler of self to a vivid chronicler of down-and-out working men and women, his records' self-congratulatory old-school leanings (yup, there was a Soulja Boy joke) and predilection for lyrical weightiness over simple play (yup, didactic drugs-are-bad tales, kids) will probably still send me either back to the originals or forward to the next crazy mixtape. But hey, I'm a guy who got bored at a Company Flow reunion-- what the hell do I know? What I do know: Atmosphere put on a deftly entertaining two-plus-hour show last night, doing ninja battle with the mosquitos flocking thickly by the river and keeping his fans-- and those of us who were undecided-- bobbing our heads and listening to his stories. And Des Moines put on a great show, too.

My moment came when Slug asked the crowd what they do when they come up to Minneapolis. "You drive to First Avenue to see a band that's too fucking shitty to come to your city?" After Brooklyn and Chicago, I kind of forget what that means-- and what it means when someone DOES come. Here I've been trying to write about my experiences so far from some kind of omniscient, authoritative voice, when I don't know the slightest thing about what it's like to see a show in Des Moines. Here I've been thinking I was writing about music on this blog, when the most informed perspective I have to offer is as an outsider getting to know a new city. The couple of times I've covered music festivals in the past, those settings and their idiosyncrasies have always become part of the story, and that's how it needs to be here-- in fact, that's really all I'm qualified to speak to, because who cares if I still like Lil Wayne a lot better than Atmosphere if the closest Lil Wayne will probably ever come to my new home city is Saint Paul, and he probably won't play there until too late for many Iowans to get home safely the same night. Slug admitted that he's been "shitty," too, and it may have just been showmanship, but he seemed truly thrilled by the knowledgeable, accommodating reception he was getting-- people willing to shout back something stupid like "asparagus!" just 'cause he told them to. And there I was, proudly wearing my new Fluxblog T-shirt for the first time, presuming I was able to critique an event where a lot of people got to see an act they loved put on a good show in a town that doesn't get its rightful share of shows, because-- what, I've reviewed a lot of indie-pop albums?

"I feel like I'm in somebody's backyard right now," Slug announced as he took the stage, backed by a guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, and backup singer. "Like this is somebody's graduation party or something." The band was best at mostly 1960s-style soulful moodiness with gospel-tinged vocalizations, though a couple of piano-tinged numbers from the new album mixed things up a bit, and God Loves Ugly finale "Shrapnel" closed with a "Kashmir"-size modal-psych freakout. It wasn't long into Atmosphere's set when Slug had everyone shouting back that "God loves ugly"-- self-deprecation, I've always found, comes easier in the Midwest than on the East Coast, where people would sometimes seem concerned that I had a self-esteem problem or something, or else would miss the "deprecation" part entirely (I think the super-competitive culture in New York takes being self-effacing for a sign of weakness). The 2007 Sad Clown Bad Fall #10 EP's "Rooster", with a bluesy guitar lick, came as a reminder that Slug's empathy for blue-collar characters preceded When Life Gives You Lemons..., and its depiction of betrayal recalls Mike Skinner's bleary awareness he's being cheated on in the Streets' 2004 story-album A Grand Don't Come for Free. Over ominous Neil Young-like (ca. On the Beach) guitar chords on the new album's "Guarantees", Slug reminded me of what I imagine to be another less than idyllic quality of mid-sized city life-- "My neighbors ain't doin' much better/ And we makin' competition instead of stickin' together"-- before taunting the audience, "You think you know my stuff?", and giving them a new verse turning Black Eyed Peas and Fergie into a vulgar joke (...turning? *rimshot* Hey, I really like "Boom Boom Pow" AND "I Gotta Feeling"): "I could be your Internet punchline by lunchtime." Slug quoted LL Cool J's "I Need Love" at one point, and I probably enjoyed Atmosphere most when Slug was smoothing out his sing-songy voice to bring a bit of LL's ladies' man composure to jams like the new album's "Yesterday"-- which, despite its warm, almost sensual piano, turns out to be about not a woman at all but the narrator's dad. After a silly mid-encore freestyle including this blog post's title phrase, Atmosphere finally ended a good night by the river with what my notes indicate was the Sad Clown Bad Summer #9 EP's "Sunshine", another song of redemption, this one as easy to understand as the Fresh Prince (even if you're a parent, which, let's face it, a lot of us who heard "Summertime" as kids actually are by now).



I haven't been ignoring you. I've been going to shows! Nothing particularly earth-shattering to report (other than: 515 Alive? Fun!) so let's keep this casual:

The highlight of the past few days would have to be the 515 Alive festival here in downtown Des Moines on Saturday night. Compared to the higher-profile 80/35 earlier this summer, this free event skewed younger, with lots of high school kids walking around. Hardly a crowd worthy of the kind of fun-hating done by local business owners last week (I didn't stay until the end, but "drunkfest"? Have you been out on a weekend night around my building lately? No comparison).

No way I would've been allowed to go to something like 515 Alive when I was 15 or 16, but man, it must've been an exciting experience for those kids-- out in the downtown at night, dancing under the stars to music you'd usually have to be 21 to check out at a bar or club, if you even knew where to find it. I tried to put myself in their frame of mind. Three stages-- the middle one felt the hottest, so we mostly stuck to the main stage and the techno stage at the opposite end of the event. (Oh, and there were people performing in a few of the local bars, too, but with everything looking too crowded-- last year's event brought out 14,000-- we braved the muggy heat outdoors.) At the techno stage, we saw a couple of DJs spinning some relatively minimal, straightahead stuff, beneath an empty building with a flashing applause sign in the window. Wish I caught their names, but the first guy did a great job of letting the beats build, so you'd get peak after peak and hands would go into the air. The second guy would just sort of alternate between peaks and valleys, but the beer must've been flowing because there always seemed to be someone who was really feeling it.

Over at the main stage, I actually caught the performers' names. Journalism! Jurassic Five apparently split up, but former member Akil the MC made the trip to Des Moines in support of a new solo album, Soundcheck. I can freely admit the things that separate Akil's music from some of my favorite rap: It looks backward rather than forward, it means exactly what it says without a hint of mischief or wordplay, and it can be super preachy. But I'm not gonna pretend he didn't put on a charming, good-time show the other night. Akil seemed sort of sad and uncertain without his group, and that vulnerability made him more likable-- you felt like he actually wanted to be here. It didn't hurt that he kept shouting out Iowa, with a hint maybe of effort but not sarcasm. We got to the stage right in the middle of Jurassic Five's "I Am Somebody", and Akil-- now backed by the DJ from his pre-Jurassic crew-- also briefly did an a cappella snippet of "Concrete Schoolyard" (I guess the whole song is a little too group-centric to fit in at a solo show, bummer). All in all, lots of old-school beats and unbridled positivity. Local MCs came up to join Akil on stage to show off their stuff, and the highlight had to be when one woman opened her mouth and sang in a gorgeous gospel voice instead of reciting her (in one would-be Asher Roth's case) crisply delivered but not exactly spontaneous-sounding verses. Akil did new stuff, too, including one song based around the whole "one for the money, two for the show..." shtick. Not so great, but it was an uncritical kind of evening and any musical shortcomings couldn't dim the overall enthusiasm. Akil later came back to do a verse with local funksters Cleo's Apartment, who were fun to dance to and had a lead singer whose hairdo and tie gave her a space-age look reminiscent of Janelle Monae. Never did see the Jungle Brothers, though... anybody have a recap?

Christopher the Conquered, Casper & the Cookies, Nuclear Rodeo, and Bradley Unit and the Members played at Vaudeville Mews on Thursday night, and I was there, too. I don't really feel like I retained enough observations from that night for a thorough review, but I was pleased by Bradley Unit's wry, low-key jangle-pop, complete with a cover of my beloved Scottish group Belle and Sebastian. I realized I had seen Nuclear Rodeo before-- catchy power-pop, highlighted by a song about Iowa's own Shawn Johnson. Athens, Ga. power-poppers Casper & the Cookies were energetic performers with lots of stage moves, and I know they've toured with Ames band the Poison Control Center, but the crowd was REALLY thin this night, and I gotta say I don't remember any of the songs well enough to run out and bring everybody I know next time-- maybe I just wasn't in the right mood. And locals Christopher the Conquered headlined, with a fine set of piano pop that culminated in a ballad for singer Chris Ford's girlfriend, away in Chicago that night. The PBR was getting to me by that point, but I seem to recall Chris (who is a reader and a nice dude, so in other words someone difficult to write about objectively) coming out into the crowd and singing that one from the floor.

Which is about where I want to be right now, unless I can make it as far as the bed.

Atmosphere tomorrow night at Simon Estes, and I'm already definitely going to see Jamey Johnson at the State Fair. Caught the I-Cubs on Friday, too, but you don't need a recap of that (they won!). What else is going on?

This post would've been a lot more interesting if I had taken pictures as I was people-watching on Saturday night. Really varied crowd that night, from hippies to just about everybody else. The common thread was people looking like individuals-- always refreshing.



Sam Summers, of concert promoter First Fleet Concerts, shares some thoughts about what he sees going on musically here in Des Moines. (Neither of us are really fans of the word "scene.") Where he used to compare turnout against Boise or Madison, now the benchmark targets are Minneapolis or Kansas City. He digs not only Ames/DSM overseas sensations the Envy Corps, but also Wolves in the Attic, who I saw play a little while ago. And I curse myself for missing Gogol Bordello... even to see an I-Cubs game. (I'm hoping to check out Silversun Pickups on Sept. 19, also maybe Atmosphere next Tuesday.)

Sorry I've been quieter lately, keeping busy with writing and getting settled and stuff, I guess. Sounds like there are some great things going on over at Des Moines Social Club these days, from a short film screening of local screenwriter Ben Godar's short film Fatherland last night to a Readymade issue release/launch party (the do-it-yourself magazine recently relocated to Des Moines from Berkeley) on Wednesday night. I may hear a Grain Belt calling. Oh, and the 515 Alive Urban Music & Arts Festival hits the East Village this weekend-- I want to check this out, too. [Previous Five Questions: Derek Lambert, Amedeo Rossi, Patrick Tape Fleming, Ladd Askland]
1. I've never been to People's Court... what should I expect?
SS: People’s Court is really Des Moines’ first “venue”. On the small club level you can afford to have “indie”, “metal” and “rock” bars but when you start getting to the mid-sized to large-sized venues your programming really has to feed all the people. People’s is conducive to all genres. No one is going to feel out of place when going to People’s.

2. More generally, what's the Des Moines music scene like?
SS: The music scene here is greater than ever before. I look at it in terms of numbers. When I started doing shows I would base the success of any given show based on how the show did compared to places like Boise, ID or Madison, WI. Now my bar has been raised to.. “how did this show do in Des Moines vs. how it did in Minneapolis or Kansas City”. The great attendances have really made me take chances on things like Gogol Bordello or MGMT or The Kooks. Things I never would have thought about booking when I started. As a whole the good attendances are still heavily influenced by what is played on the radio. Des Moines should look to online music outlets as an alternative so I can start [to] bring more bands I like ;)

3. What shows are you most looking forward to this summer?

SS: shit… my favorite show of the summer was Gogol Bordello. You really get your money’s worth on Gogol shows. No bathroom or bar breaks. You have to make sure you catch their whole set. Pretty pumped for Silversun Pickups this fall.
4. Any local bands we should be watching?
SS: I would have to say The Envy Corps. Their hugely energetic set at 80/35 just reminded me why I back this band so much. Wolves in the Attic are great too. I was able to get them on my Faint show last year and I feel like they went over really well. Outside of Des Moines... will whitmore and old panther are a couple of my favs.

5. What would you change or improve about what's going on musically in Des Moines?
SS: I feel like with a lot of bands locally they are trying to create music that they think they are supposed to be making. There are very few bands that I feel have a natural sound. Poison Control Center is really one of the only bands that I get a “real” vibe from. Their energy and passion is so natural. I would love to see more bands writing music that is less predictable and more from the heart.
EDIT: P.S. Don't let me forget, free Why Make Clocks CD release party at Vaudeville Mews on Aug. 14. Sorry to the nice guy who e-mailed me from locals Hanwell for sleeping on their show at House of Bricks the other day-- next time, I hope. Oh, and I also happened to correspond with (I think-- Googled the name) a member of Iowa band the Postulates (a clever Newton pun?).